Senior Staff Reporter, Cincinnati Business Courier
Forget golf course living. The region’s first “agri-community” is coming to Warren County.
Aberlin Springs, a 141-home community in Union Tonwship owned by Leslie Ratliff, will be a single-family residential community with a working farm as its central feature.
All residents of Aberlin Springs will be part of a community supported agriculture, or CSA. The cost will be $850 per household per year, but will provide residents with fresh produce, meat and eggs.
Ratliff said the farm will allow “people to reconnect to the land that feeds them. “The community will demonstrate that farming is profitable,” she said.
Maureen McDermott, partner with downtown-based NorthPointe Group, is working with the Ratliff family on the development. They spent three years looking at the agri-community model because Ratliff’s mother didn’t want to see the family farm go away.
“They wanted to keep the farm but develop the farm at the same time,” McDermott told me.
While agri-communities, or agrihoods, are not new, they are new to the Cincinnati region. In fact, McDermott said Aberlin Springs is the first community of its kind in Ohio.
It is estimated there are about 200 agrihoods across the U.S. One of the largest, Agritopia outside of Phoenix, is expanding to include about 950 residences by this fall.
At Aberlin Springs, about 70 percent of the property will remain as farm or protected wooded space, McDermott said. That means many of the design features you’d find in a typical suburban community won’t be part of Aberlin Springs.
In most suburbs, you’ll find homes on both sides of the streets. A number of the lots at Aberlin Springs are wooded in the back with views of the fields in front.
“This is breaking a lot of rules,” McDermott said.
Three different home types are planned for Aberlin Springs: cottage, which will be on 40-foot-by-100-foot lots with homes starting in the $300,000s; manor, which will be 70-foot-by-120-foot lots with homes starting in the $400,000s, and estates, which will be 100-foot-by-150-foot sites with homes starting in the $500,000s.
The cottage homes are designed to be part of their own “neighborhood within a neighborhood,” McDermott said. In the first phase, 10 cottage homes are planned. The houses will face each other with front porches, green space and sidewalks in between them. All of the homes will have rear-entry garages.
In the same way that not all who live on a golf course play golf, not everyone who lives at Aberlin Springs has to be involved in working on the farm.
“People are trying to find a different way of living,” McDermott said.
The first phase of Aberlin Springs has 22 home sites. Without formally announcing the project, there are already holds on 13 of the home sites.
Pendragon Homes, which Ratliff co-founded, will be the exclusive builder for at least the first phase of Aberlin Springs. Home designs are still being finalized.
Future phases of Aberlin Springs are expected to include a wellness center and an educational facility. The first tour of Aberlin Springs, located at 3470 Snook Road, is scheduled for March 19 from 1-4 p.m.