Environmental groups are working to designate 22 miles of the Mad River in Clark County as recreational space. The process is being delayed due to controversy as to what that label will mean for residents.
It's a win-win situation for Clark County according to Aaron Rourke, he's with the group Rivers Unlimited, that's working with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to designate the area as recreation.
That means the state agency will manage that portion of the river which Rourke says is a good thing because it will improve the landscape.
"It also has the benefit of adding sort of a cachet to a river which attracts outside interests too. So, most river corridors along scenic rivers find some increased tourism. Paddlers, fishermen, bird watchers they like to come to these newly designated scenic rivers to see what the buzz is about and one can build on that," Rourke said.
Rourke points to the nearby Little Miami River as an example. Since it became a recreation site, it attracts 300,000 users each year.
But Tom Lagos says this amounts to government overreach. He's a Springfield attorney and developer who owns several properties along the Mad River. Lagos says this infringes on the rights of homeowners and developers.
"Now it is true that the statute says it is not supposed to but the practicality is if you are an individual and you are developing anything they're going to make you make it to the higher standard. For all of those aforementioned reasons, I think it's a bad idea. We don't need any additional level of bureaucracy to determine what we can do in Clark County," Lagos said.
And that's part of the reason Five townships and the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce all have said no. Advocates say they don't actually need township approval to move forward, but it does delay the designation because now more public hearings are needed. Rivers Unlimited are in the process of scheduling more meetings to gain support in Clark County.