New regulations could take effect by 2003.
By STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
WARREN -- Developers charge that proposed Trumbull County subdivision regulations will hurt their business and hurt people who want to buy inexpensive homes.
The regulation change developers are criticizing would triple the amount of land required to build a home in township areas with no water or sewer service.
Subdivision regulations control how property in the townships can be split into smaller parcels. Under the proposed regulations, the minimum single-family home lot size in an area without services would be 1.5 acres, with 150 feet of frontage.
Current regulations require about .5 acres and 100 feet of frontage.
"What you are proposing will affect new home sales for affordable homes," said Jerre Hentosh, a home builder. "The affordable house will be gone."
Why the size increase?
The larger lot size is intended to prevent septic problems in rural areas, already a major problem in the county. The Environmental Protection Agency has identified more than a dozen areas where untreated sewage is escaping off-lot septic systems and contaminating ditches and waterways.
"Right now, there is a $54 million-dollar problem out there, and I can look at that on the balance sheet and say we have to do something about the high-density development in areas where there is no water and sewer," said Gary Newbrough, planning commission director.
The $54 million refers to the estimated cost to bring sewer lines to all the areas of concern to the EPA, a highly unlikely prospect, said Thomas Holloway, county sanitary engineer.
By increasing minimum lot size, the proposed regulations would ensure that most new houses in unsewered areas will be able to have on-lot septic systems. This type of system does not normally discharge water or waste off the property.
If it is an on-lot system, the evidence of its failure is in the homeowner's yard, said Frank Migliozzi, the county health department's director of environmental health. Off-lot systems typically discharge into roadside ditches.
He added that off-lot septic systems, used on smaller lots, are often poorly maintained and prone to failure.
Requiring larger lot sizes could compel many new homeowners to build outside Trumbull County, without solving the septic problem, worried Don McConnell, owner of Hubbard Lumber.
Other people at a hearing Tuesday also voiced concern about a regulation that would stymie development within 65 feet of most streams.
The planning commission will consider refining this regulation before it passes the proposed regulation changes, Newbrough said. As it reads, a 65-foot buffer area is required from the center of all water courses that drain in an area greater than 0.5 square mile.
The new regulations won't take effect until after they are approved by the commission and the county commissioners.
Officials say they hope to complete the process before the end of the year.