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Ashley Builders, St. Walburg settle with Villa Hills residents on Sanctuary; Drees, Fischer join project

Ashley Builders Group and Saint Walburg Monastery of Benedictine Sisters of Covington, Kentucky have agreed to settle a zoning appeal by Defend VH Group, LLC and 12 Villa Hills residents who sought to overturn a decision by the Villa Hills City Council that permitted construction of a mixed-use residential development project by the developer on real estate owned by the religious order.

After a two-year process in which the developer and monastery worked closely with the City of Villa Hills and Kenton County PDS to conduct an in-depth land-use study for the proposed project — known as the Sanctuary Village — City Council voted to approve rezoning to allow the project on March 3, 2018. Defend VH Group and the 12 residents, who opposed the scale and density of the project, appealed this decision to the Kenton Circuit Court shortly after the city council vote.

Bill Kreutzjans Jr.

“We are pleased that we have been able to work with our development partner and our neighbors in Villa Hills to resolve this matter and move forward with development of Sanctuary Village,” said Ashley partner Bill Kreutzjans Jr.

“We also are honored to announce at this time that both Drees Homes and Fischer Homes – two local homebuilders recognized as among the best in the country – have agreed to serve as our building partners in constructing new homes in Sanctuary Village.”

As part of the settlement agreement, Ashley agreed to eliminate 187 apartments from the development plan previously approved by the city and to build single-family homes on this land instead. Ashley also agreed to reduce the total number of residential units permitted under the approved plan from 493 units to 325 residential units.

Kreutzjans said that current development plans for Sanctuary Village show the following product mix:

 216 single-family homes;

 35 master townhomes;

 28 ranch-style cottages; and

 15,000 square feet of neighborhood-serving commercial/office as well as residential-HOA amenity space, such as work-out facilities and community meeting space. Ashley will have an opportunity to construct another 15,000 square feet of this type of space if Ashley determines that market demand exists for this space.

The new development will include 18 single-family homes on lots with river views and other custom-built homes that will comply with architectural-control guidelines. The attached townhomes and cottages both will have alley-loaded garages.

Residents in the new development will be able to enjoy a community pool with a river view and a town center that includes a community club and exercise facility as well as neighborhood-commercial retail uses.

Residents also will be able to enjoy public walking trails with a river overlook, tree-lined streets, and planned green space.

Kreutzjans said that site-development work on the property would likely begin this spring with construction of new homes is expected to start next spring.

Ashley also agreed to support a new traffic study — if the city elects to pursue one – that may reduce the traffic-infrastructure improvements required under the previously approved development agreement.

“The changes we’ve agreed to in the settlement agreement will result in a reduction of traffic to Sanctuary Village,” said Ashley partner Jason Yeager. “However, any proposed reductions in the approved traffic-infrastructure improvement plan, if they are to occur, must be reviewed and approved by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.”

During the zoning hearings and throughout the year following the development’s approval by the city, Ashley heard from a large group of Villa Hills residents who make it clear they did not agree with some of the recommendations set forth in that study or development parameters.

“We heard those concerns and we decided that we needed to find a solution we all could agree on,” Yeager said. “We felt it was in the best interest of our company, the Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg, and the Villa Hills community to settle this appeal and move forward with a high-quality Traditional Neighborhood Design development project in the community.”

The Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg Monastery issued the following statement:

“The Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg Monastery are grateful and relieved that the Settlement Agreement has come to closure. We look forward to seeing the Sanctuary Village project developed by Ashley enhance the city of Villa Hills. Thank you so much.”

This will be Ashley’s fourth residential development project in Villa Hills, Yeager said. “We thought that resolving this matter with the residents was the right thing to do because we wanted to make sure this project had the same strong community support we had for our other Villa Hills projects and I now think that we do,”  Yeager said.

Dan Knecht, the attorney for the Defend Villa Hills Petitioners, said his clients “were willing to resolve their claims on terms that would eliminate the originally planned 187-unit apartment building, reduce the overall potential density of the project, and still secure the Sisters’ retirement through the sale of their land.”

“The Agreement gives the Petitioners, and the residents of Villa Hills generally, the certainty for the next quarter-century that the land will be developed in a more measured way that better preserves the character of the Villa Hills community,” Knecht said.

Ashley Builders

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