By Alan King
As many of you may already know, I’ve decided to take on another part time job around Xenia that I think needs doing. I am running for Xenia Township Trustee in this November’s election. I think that there are some things that need fixing and I think that I have some good thoughts about how to go about making them better. As part of my campaign, I would like to share a few of these thoughts with you. This will be the first of about 6 emails along these lines. The Township Trustee job is non-partisan and I am running with the hopes of serving all of the residents of Xenia Township.
Here’s what I think about 5 acre lots:
I love to live in the country. My home is on a little over 2 acres in Xenia Township. When I first moved here in 1973, there was a field next door that was so big that only one house was within a half mile of me on that side. There were other homes nearby, but if I wanted to go outside and see farmland, there it was. Corn or beans or cattle always alternated outside my windows. Then they built the 35 bypass and now I live next to a busy highway with the sound of semis so nearly constant that I only notice the silence when it arrives in the middle of the night.
Irreplaceable farmland is vanishing slowly but inexorably from much of Xenia Township as our rural population grows. And I blame 5 acre lots for part of that loss. Sometime in the past it was decided that the best way to prevent farmers from selling off their land for houses would be to restrict Township lots to 5 acres or more. The reasoning was that the average new home buyer couldn’t pay for 5 acres, so he would just stay in town. This may have worked at one time, but as housing prices climbed into the 6 digits, the cost of 5 acres has become a smaller part of the investment. People still want to move to the country, so farmers are selling off long skinny lots stretching way back into their most fertile fields. A typical 5 acre lot in Xenia Township is 250 feet wide and almost two tenths of a mile deep.
Five acres is too much land to take care of, but not enough to do much with. Newcomers to the country often think that they will build a barn and keep a horse or two out back. This is a charming fantasy, but it soon becomes evident that 5 acres is enough to raise a horse, but not enough to go for a ride. After a few years of killing themselves mowing it all, many of these homeowners never venture into their “back three” and it devolves into useless scrub brush. And that is a terrific waste of good farmland! Wouldn’t it be better to allow smaller lots and leave more of the good land in crops?
If it is inevitable that we are going to have more people moving to the country, we need flexible zoning in Xenia Township based on intelligent land use, not one-size-fits-all lot sizes. Many of the older homes in the township, like mine, are on an acre or two and they have ample space for a nice country home and a well and a septic system. There is plenty of space for a garden and a barn and you can’t hear what your neighbors are watching on TV. Even a couple of acres is a lot to take care of. Rather than try to mow it all, my son Eric and I planted an acre of walnut trees on our lot back in 1976 and now we have a nice woods. An acre or two is plenty of room for real country living.
There is plenty of land in the township that is really unsuitable for farming. Some of it is too hilly, or the soil is poor, or it is too wet to farm. That land would be great for small country homes and should be zoned that way. The good, rich farmland should stay in farms and farmers should be encouraged to hold their land together. But if we are going to welcome 50 new families into the Township next year, wouldn’t it be better to put them all on a total of 50 or 60 acres than to use up 250 acres of our best farmland just to put them each on a 5 acre lot?
Some of you are probably asking who is this guy, Alan King? He is a Xenia native. He and his partner of 24 years, Karen, are proprietors of Kiddie Kingdom Childcare and Express Yourself Coffeehouse. In case you haven’t guessed, he digs land ( BS in Geology), and likes working with children (MS Teaching). He is also an Army veteran.
Have you got questions? He can be reached at King1075@sbcglobal.net or 937-372-4986