A public hearing on the proposed regulations will be at 9 a.m. Sept. 10.
By STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Regulations proposed by the Trumbull County Planning Commission could dramatically increase the amount of land needed to build a house in rural parts of the county.
In what will be first full-fledged revision of county subdivision regulations since 1959, officials propose tripling the minimum lot size to 1.5 acres for single-family homes in areas without water or sewer service.
The county's subdivision regulations control how properties in townships can be split into smaller parcels.
Under current regulations, each home site split off a larger property without water and sewer must run 100 feet along a road and be at least 20,000 square feet, about half an acre.
Besides tripling the area requirement, the proposed changes would require more frontage, 150 feet.
Some townships have zoning requirements more stringent than the county's subdivision regulations.
"If you want country living, you have to have enough land for your septic system and well," said Gary Newbrough, planning commission director.
"If you don't have enough land, you shouldn't live out there."
Higher cost likely
If the proposed changes go through, it would likely increase the cost of buying a house in rural areas of the county, said Debbie Barber, president of the Warren Area Board of Realtors.
"It is going to make a difference for buyers and sellers," Barber said. "Affordability is key for buyers, and this will limit the number of buyers."
About half of the 30 or so property splits requested each month would not meet the size requirement of the proposed regulations, said Dave Dubiaga, the planning commission's plats and zoning coordinator.
Large developers, who prefer to build in areas with water and sewer, will not be as greatly affected by the proposed change as landowners looking to make some money by selling a portion of a field along a road, he said.
Cutting septic problems
Officials hope the larger parcel requirement will help reduce the county's septic problems.
The EPA has ordered the county to fix sewage problems in about a dozen high-density residential areas where there are no sewer lines.
"We have a $54 million problem out there right now," Newbrough said. "We need to stop some of it."
Home sites big enough for approval under the new subdivision regulations would also be big enough for the health department to require the use of on-site septic systems, as long as soil conditions are acceptable, he said.
Many of the county's septic problems are in densely populated areas with off-lot septic systems, which discharge into ditches. Untreated waste can also be discharged if the system is not well maintained.
"We do not want high density development in the rural areas," Newbrough said. "It is also a way to limit urban sprawl."
Another new regulation will require the construction of sidewalks in new developments, where five or more houses on a new street and water and sewer are available. Officials estimate the cost of sidewalks at $2,000 per house.
A public hearing on the proposed regulations will be conducted after the regular planning commission meeting at 9 a.m. Sept. 10.
Newbrough said that with approval by county commissioners, the new regulations could be put in place before the end of the year.