Residents of West Enon and the Green Meadows subdivisions adjacent to the boundary of the former Wood Farm located on Stine Road have continued to experience problems with the new owner of the land this past week.
The current owner of the farm has elected to remove any and all vegetation on the property up to the subdivision, including some of the tree limbs that overhang the property from the surrounding home sites. Crews removed long standing trees and piled them onto the land, setting them ablaze—leaving the surrounding community to experience the unpleasant odors associated with the burning of green wood. Following complaints to the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency, a site visit was made, and the owner was ordered to discontinue any burning on the property of green wood. According to the agency, wood is allowed to be burned on a clearing site under EPA permits once it has been allowed to age for six months or more, but the crews on Stine Road were burning brush and large trees immediately upon removal. Residents acknowledge that the property owner has the right to clear the land, but say he must remain in compliance with the EPA guidelines.
In response to the problem, the Enon Eagle spoke with Anna Bucy, a resident of the Green Meadows subdivision. The Bucy home is directly adjacent to the location of the clearing, and exposed to the smoke from the burn pile. Bucy reported that her son developed a cough and other symptoms of respiratory distress after the burning began. Bucy sought medical attention for her son and learned that he is suspected of having an allergic reaction to the toxins in the smoke. A number of residents have complained about the rancid smell as well as burning eyes and throat and other reactions to the smoky conditions in the community. The RAPCA representative reported that the farm owner will be removing the remaining vegetation off-site for disposal, and all burning was put to an end based on the burning of unseasoned wood.
The stripping of the land has been explained as a necessary procedure for preparing for a fall crop to be planted on the land. As reported in the Eagle the woodland/wasteland would account for a small portion of the 112 acres of the property at around ten acres. The impact on homeowners in Mad River Township continues to spark complaints and speculation as to why the new owner, Cal Hahn, has elected to strip vegetation on and around the existing wire farm fencing.
According to information from both homeowners and Mad River Township Trustee President Kathy Estep, Hahn plans to remove all of the trees and undergrowth to allow for the placement of agricultural drainage tiles. He also plans to replace the existing fence with a new “farm-style” fence. Hahn has insisted in his conversations with Estep and homeowners that people will be pleased with his changes once completed, but currently, many homeowners are anything but pleased with the method being used to remove the vegetation and work being done by the crew members.
Homeowners Pam Weaver and Kathy Crager invited the Eagle to visit their homes and view the remains of trees located on their property following the clearing of the Hahn property adjacent to their homes. Crews left trunks of trees standing over 15 feet above the ground with single limbs growing on property owned by the Weavers and Cragers. According to the women, all limbs and the main growth portions of the trees had been removed with Mr. Hahn present at the site during the work. Originally, Hahn had told the homeowners they could select trees to be left untouched, but then removed them anyway. As reported in the Enon Eagle last week, support from the Clark County Sheriff’s Department became necessary multiple times during the tree removal process, as a property line dispute occurred.
On Saturday, the Eagle met with Russell Oost, a descendant of the Wingate family. Oost made the initial contact with the Mad River Township Trustees concerning the Shellabarger Cemetery that is located on the Hahn property. The cemetery contains the remains of a Revolutionary War soldier and several other pioneering members of the community, including the Wingates. According to the survey of the Hahn property, the “graveyard appears to be abandoned” and Hahn is “intending to file a quiet title action to acquire the graveyard lands.”
In conversation with Anna Bucy, who permitted the Eagle to view the site of the cemetery located on the west side of her property, the homeowner who had built the first home in this section of the Green Meadows subdivision would visit the site and place flowers on the graves and remove weeds back in the 1960s. Bucy moved into her home about 14 years ago and noted that she too had seen multiple grave markers at this location, explaining that she had contacted the Enon Historical Society regarding the grave markers that began to fall into disrepair. Bucy explained that the land has been farmed for the time that she has lived there and volunteer plants began to invade the site. Mr. Oost discovered a number of headstones tangled up in the large roots and brush left in piles by workers clearing the land on Saturday. It was unclear if the stones had been broken prior to the work or if they were broken into pieces because of the work being done to clear this area. According to Oost, the cemetery measures 167 feet long running north and south and 53 feet wide running east and west. Oost’s mother Virginia also came to the site, but refused to comment on the situation. Property owners with grave sites present can till over them, but cannot build upon the land.
Mad River Township has also seen costs associated with the clearing of the land. During the removal of the undergrowth next to the end property on Ginger Drive, a large retaining wall was exposed. When the Green Meadows subdivision was developed, it appears that Ginger Drive was significantly higher than the Wood Farm property, leading the developer to build the wall to allow for building of this final home on the street. The roadway dead-ends at the property line and also has a significant drop-off. Trustee Joe Catanzaro visited the site while the Enon Eagle was meeting with Mrs. Weaver. The Eagle contacted Mr. Catanzaro for an update on how the township would be marking the drop off at the end of Ginger Drive. Catanzaro reported that crews had placed a stop sign in the middle of the roadway and added additional signage to restrict access to this pavement which ends abruptly. He also explained that Clark County Utilities came to the scene to inspect and pressure test the fire hydrant adjacent to the newly cleared land.
The Eagle contacted a resource for farming practices in the tri-county area. The individual confirmed that agricultural tile would be placed prior to the beginning of any planting on newly cleared land. Our source also indicated that it is unusual to clear all trees and brush from agricultural land as the costs are significant, however any land not cleared does impact on the total yield of tillable land. This individual indicated that grain prices have increased significantly to allow a farmer to recover the cost of clearing land in a couple of seasons.
Mr. Hahn has declined our request to go on record regarding his plans for the property beyond stating that he intends to farm the land. He stated that he would be willing to sit down for an interview in the future, but no date has been set for an interview. The Eagle sent a request to Mr. Hahn regarding a report that he also plans to hire a company who specializes in stream restoration in regards to rumors that he is planning to change the course of Mud Run which flows across this property and has been known to be the source of significant flooding. Mr. Hahn did not reply by deadline.
The Enon Eagle will provide continuing coverage of the Stine Road development as details become available.