FERGUSON TOWNSHIP — Dave Hill’s voice sounds resigned to the fact that trees are falling and dirt is rolling behind his and other Greenleaf Manor homes on the Circleville-Corl Farm property.
Fellow resident Pete Arnett used the word “resigned” to describe the feeling of the neighbors who have pushed back against the coming nearly 900-unit Turnberry development and negotiated for less density near their homes.
The group has remained active since the development first was proposed but has stopped meeting now, Hill said. However, they are concerned about what they feel is an excessive number of trees coming down.
The project is in the grading stage — which includes tree removal — and soon will begin its first of many construction phases. Total buildout won’t take place for about 20 years.
“I think, really, the thing that was most upsetting to people was all the trees along the border that were taken down,” Arnett said of a grove of trees that he said shielded some of the homes in his neighborhood.
Greenleaf sits southwest of Turnberry. “It was just a bit of a concern about how closely things are being monitored.”
Arnett went to township planning and zoning Director Trisha Lang with his concerns, and she said she investigated. She said she received more than one call about trees coming down between the bike path and Circleville Road near an apartment building.
“I was surprised, because the apartment residents didn’t say anything,” Lang said. “I’m not sure I realized how much tree cover there was or wasn’t, so I hadn’t expected that they would be taking down a lot.”
However, upon inspection, Lang said she thinks the tree removals are consistent with the approved development plans.
Lang also pointed out that there are “significant” wooded areas on the site that are part of a conservation easement and can’t be touched. She said the area is marked to prevent construction in those areas.
Manager Mark Kunkle said single-family homes will be constructed near Circleville, which would required more trees to come down.
“I can see where they would be concerned,” he said of residents.
Development plans didn’t include any special agreements related to trees, but the traditional town development ordinance allows removal of up to 40 percent of a site’s trees.
“Which seems like a lot, but we don’t have any other ordinance,” Lang said.
“Most people just go in and clear the property. We think they’re being conscientious, in part, because they have to be.”
Project engineer Matt Harlow, of ELA Group Inc., said the plans show tree removal for the new street between Blue Course Drive and Circleville Road, and for stormwater management.
“It’s always been on the plan,” he said. “We are not removing any more than we absolutely have to.”
Nonetheless, neighbors feel disillusioned, Hill said.
“We realize this is the way it is,” he said. “We realize we may have had some minor effect on what might go on out there. But, as they say, it’s progress. It’s a shame.”
Jessica VanderKolk can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter@jVanReporter.