Developer Looks to Build Green Houses in Liberty

HUBBARD, Ohio — Standing along Lakeview Drive in Old Warner Trails, Hubbard, Donald Anderson eyes the wooded 20 acres where he plans to expand the development he started some 15 years ago.

Looking over the preliminary drawings of the third phase of the development, the president of Villa Homes for America says the expansion will prepare some 40 lots for the construction of “5 Star Plus energy-efficient” villas. Much of the wooded area will remain intact, he says, creating his vision of a green planned-unit development, or PUD, that features wooded lots, two lakes, quiet walking trails and energy-efficient houses.

“That to me is a paradise,” he says. “And that’s what I designed.”

Originally a 50-acre property, Anderson bought the land about 15 years ago and started building out its first two phases of wooded, half-acre lots. Construction at Old Warner Trails halted in 2009 after the housing market collapse, he says. Now that the market is beginning to turn around, he says it’s time to develop the rest of the neighborhood.

Houses are built according to the four energy-efficient models available, and base floor plans range from 1,386 to 1,821 square feet, according to OldWarnerTrails.com. Houses start at $258,475 and are built in the Western Reserve style, Anderson says. All employ green building materials, techniques and appliances to improve energy efficiency.

Paints and stains contain low to no volatile-organic compounds, or VOCs, which is a benefit for residents with difficulty breathing, and any carpet installed is free of formaldehyde, he says. Heating and air conditioning units remove 98% of air particulates and a continuous exhaust system helps remove moisture in the air and ventilates the house, Anderson says. Garages are built with hookups for electric lawnmowers and vehicles, and houses feature LED lighting.

“In today’s society with the technology and materials out there, people ought to be entitled to a low-energy home,” Anderson says. “And that’s what we try to do.”

All houses have individual wells and reverse osmosis water systems. An on-site sewage-treatment plant is operated by the Trumbull County sanitary engineer, he says. Other infrastructure in the community includes storm-water drainage. Each house has drain spouts that run to storm sewers, which discharge into the lake, he says.

“You don’t have water laying at the corner of the house and in the yard,” he says. “It goes in the storm sewer.”

Buyers can pick only from the existing models, but some personalization is available, Anderson says. Certain features, such as floor coverings, ceiling fans, windows, doors and other items “that don’t affect construction quality” can be altered. 

Interested buyers can go to the Villa Homes office at 214 Churchill Hubbard Road, Unit A, to learn more. Buyers pay a $1,000 deposit to reserve a lot while they decide on their floor plans, Anderson says. Financing is available with as little as 3% down, he says.

“We put together a financing package through an Ohio bank and we can get them a loan for 5% down, 3% down, and good rates,” he says. “That’s what’s been holding this whole market up.”

Villa Homes offers buyers a $10,000 credit off the sale price if they agree to allow the company to use their house as a model.

“We’re going to use their house during our construction phases to show to other people,” he says. “We find people get more involved in the project that way.”

There are still about 10 lots available between the first two phases of the development, he says. Ideally, Anderson would like to have five or six new houses under construction before he starts on Phase 3.

But before work can begin on Phase 3, Anderson must put together a detailed proposal to present to the Planning and Zoning Department of Liberty Township. He will also have to apply for a zoning change where he plans to build the PUD, says James Rodway, zoning inspector.

“PUDs are a very strict form of zoning,” Rodway says. “You basically have to build exactly what you represent in the plan. But you also get more leniency in how you can develop.”

That leniency allows a developer to build on smaller lot sizes or to cluster houses – “Things you normally couldn’t do on a single lot,” he says.

Other residential projects are underway in the township, and some contractors are using green-building techniques, but “nothing to the extent that Anderson is doing,” he says.

Before Villa Homes can submit the proposal, he’ll need to clear brush from the area, which will begin this winter and should only take a month, Anderson says. Workers will remove only dead trees or trees within 10 feet of the foundation of a proposed lot.

Villas will include grounds maintenance and lawn care as well as access to an on-site water treatment plant to be constructed as part of Phase 3. Anderson plans to target empty nesters who are downsizing or who saved money after the recession but don’t want to invest in their current home, he says. He will also market to millennials who don’t want to pay rent.

Petrosky Brothers Construction Inc., Cortland, is the builder for the villas project. It will give the residential real estate market a much needed shot in the arm, says Don Petrosky, jobsite superintendent.

It will also give a needed boost to his business, which has focused on “a tremendous amount” of remodeling work since the recession, he says. The 36-year-old company works with area subcontractors who would benefit as well, he says. 

“This would be a good boost to the area to start up with new construction development. It’s what this area needs,” Petrosky says. “I’m excited about it.”

Cutting in a new access road would benefit the job, he says, because currently the only way in is through an existing development. Once the project gets rolling, Petrosky says they could build 12 to 15 units annually.

Pictured: Initial plans for Phase 3 of Old Warner Trails include some 40 lots for villa homes in 20 acres of wooded land, Donald Anderson says. Before work can begin, he needs to put together a detailed proposal to submit to Liberty Township zoning.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.