The Village of Indian Hill is one of the most scenic areas in the Cincinnati metropolitan region. Its physical characteristics run the gamut from flat, open, grassy fields to heavily wooded, steeply sloped, mature canopy forest. There are meandering streams, dark pine stands, and intriguing geological formations with a plethora of fossils. This presence of natural beauty is even more valued because of Indian Hill’s proximity to densely populated Cincinnati. The Village is home to about 5900 people, most of them aware of its unique beauty and sensitive to the changes that come with urbanization.
The Village Charter of 1941 states that “It is the purpose and intent of the people of Indian Hill that the character and uses of the area within the Village may not be changed, and it shall continue to be a rural neighborhood.” As Indian Hill evolved from a farming to a residential community, and as it continues to be a desirable neighborhood for family life, it is the preservation of this characteristic of a green and rural community that is its most noticeable quality.
In the 1940’s, a program was initiated to acquire property for permanent preservation, and substantial acreage has been purchased of donated since this early impetus. The first Green Areas concept was inspired by the idea of a ring of green surrounding the “hill”. This far-sighted vision of a border of green soon evolved into “areas” rather than a “belt”. Parcels of land scattered throughout the Village were added, so that the green look of Indian Hill permeated the entire landscape.
A Forest Preserve and Greenbelt Areas Committee, established in 1954, later became today’s Green Areas Advisory Committee in 1962.This group, made up of 17 interested residents, and is appointed by the mayor. Their role is to advise the Council about the Green Areas maintenance and related matters, and their goals are to seek land donations, educate residents about the Green Areas, and preserve the open space and the natural landscape of Indian Hill.
In the Village’s 19 ½ square miles, there are about 2800 acres in the Green Areas Trust and about 600 acres protected by conservation easements- approximately ¼ of Indian Hill! Some of the acquired land came in large parcels, such as 200 acre Albers Woods ( behind the Little Red Schoolhouse) and some of it came in smaller portions, such as Steer Meadow (on Keller Road), a parcel of green field traversed by one of the Village’s horse trails.
Some of the land now owned and preserved by the Village was acquired from land developers as new subdivisions were opened. To explain, a large tract, of say 100 acres, in a five acre zone, could have 20 building sites, but the Village has a unique program of permitting house construction on some three acre tracts of land in a five acre zone if a desirable adjoining two acre plot for each exception is donated to the Green Areas Trust. Thus the remaining land could still be divided into 20 building sites, the five acre zone provision is upheld, and the home owners could then enjoy an area surrounded by and/or interlaced with green, permanently preserved land.
Indian Hill continues to be very receptive to gifts of appropriate Green Areas land. Property owners are encouraged to consider preserving a portion of their land to the Green Areas, adding to the green legacy of the Village.