XENIA — Eleven acres of trees will not be cut down on a piece of land that the Greene County Board of Commissioners have been working to certify for commercial development in Xenia.
The 151-acre site, otherwise known as the Ohio Veterans Children’s Home (OVCH) Park, is located on Innovation Drive off of US Route 35. County residents have begun discussions at recent commissioners’ meetings, stating that the section of wooded area on the site may be home to an endangered species of bats.
In June, Xenia resident Kim McCarthy asked the commissioners at a regular meeting to reconsider the removal — or “wanton destruction” — of the trees.
According to JobsOhio and Ohio Development Services Agency, the SiteOhio Certification Program helps identify, certify and market eligible project sites — industrial, manufacturing and commercial locations — that are ready for immediate development by businesses.
Commissioner Bob Glaser explained that having certification gives the site national exposure to businesses looking for property. In order to get the entire site certified and “shovel ready” through JobsOhio, he continued, the trees would need to be removed.
If the trees were not removed, members of the board explained, the potential buyer would have to add tree removal to the cost of purchasing the land, making the investment less attractive.
A Yellow Springs resident expressed similar concerns in an email to the Gazette, citing the potential decimation of the colony of bats and possible misuse of tax payers’ money.
“We think that there is an easy compromise to make here: the trees being condensed on one area, can the commissioners separate the empty tree-free lots from this one and get these empty lots on the Ohio Jobs platform? If they fill these up, then we can consider the need to clear the trees on that wooded lot,” Dorothee Bouquet wrote.
McCarthy brought up the topic again Aug. 10, but this time was met with a different response.
“You’re going to be happy that we … are re-certifying that property to exclude those woods from that certification so they will not get cut down,” Commissioner Tom Koogler said during the public comment portion of the meeting.
According to Koogler, the board reached a conclusion that was largely based on the potential cost of removing the trees.
“We’re all business people and I always say let the numbers tell the story … It’s just going to cost too much to cut those trees down,” he said.
The costly-effort of cutting the trees and clearing the roots would still not guarantee that the property would sell, he continued.
“The trees will be staying and the bats will have a home,” he said to McCarthy, who was pleased upon hearing the news.
According to County Administrator Brandon Huddleson, the 140 acres will be certified and shovel-ready. The 11-acre parcel of trees will be available to businesses, too, but that section won’t be certified.
Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.