Sewer service expansion could lead to housing boom in Warren County

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Sewer service expansion could lead to housing boom in Warren County

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Lawrence Budd
Oberer Develoipment wants to build a new subdivision on the edge of this town between Springboro and Lebanon. Staff photo by Lawrence Budd

Thousands of new homes could be built on as much as 1,000 undeveloped acres in and around Red Lion, a rural area south of Springboro, if sewer service is extended to the area.

This potential residential development could turn Red Lion into Warren County’s next boom town.

Warren County has begun studying the extension of sewer service to the area around the intersections of Ohio 741, Ohio 123 and Ohio 122 in Clearcreek Twp.

The county commissioners gave the green light this month for an in-house study.

“Is this an area where the commissioners wish to see growth in?” Chris Brausch, who heads the county’s water and sewer department, asked the commissioners during a recent meeting.

“It seems to me inherently reasonable,” said Commissioner Shannon Jones, who lives just outside Springboro in Clearcreek Twp.

Dave Young also supported the study.

“I don’t even have to talk about it anymore. Yes, look at it,” Young said.

Commissioner Tom Grossmann was absent.

The Clearcreek Township trustees asked for the study as the county moves toward conclusion of a planning process designed to map out the eventual land uses in the Red Lion and Hunter areas.

Hunter is in Franklin Twp., west of Red Lion.

“The Clearcreek Township Board of Trustees are seeking to expand the tax base in this area and would rely on a sewer system to help facilitate the growth (commercial, office, industrial and higher density residential),” Jeff Palmer, Clearcreek Twp’s director of planning and zoning, said in a letter to Brausch.

Sewers would enable development of as many as four homes an acre in a typical housing subdivision, more if apartments or condominiums are built.

Sewers would also enable commercial and industrial development.

The trustees envision plans for residential development of more than 150 acres north and east of the center of Red Lion, approved in January, as a catalyst for commercial development, perhaps a “walkable ” community, around the intersection of Ohio 122, Ohio 123 and Ohio 741, Twp. Administrator Jack Cameron said.

Already there are clusters of homes, a church and a few businesses around the center of Red Lion and leading along the state routes out of town.

A United Dairy Farmers gasoline station and convenience store opened recently on the corner of Ohio 741 and Ohio 122.

Still most of the land remains undeveloped farm fields.

Brausch declined to project a completion date for the study, but estimated it would take “a couple” months.

“At this point, we are short on time,” he told the commissioners. “Our focus has been on other projects. Quite frankly, we’re backed up.”

The size of the study area hasn’t been determined, Brausch said. Some of the available land might not be ideal for sewers, due to topography, he added.

Greg Orosz, the county planner overseeing the planning process for the Red Lion-Hunter area, estimated the available acreage at 1,037 acres, not including the land in a plan by Oberer Development to build about 80 homes on 157.2 acres northeast of the Ohio 741-Ohio 122 intersection.

Brausch said he plans to talk with an engineering firm already studying the area for land owners. The sewers could be in the ground within two years, if there was a plan to pay for them, Brausch said, but could otherwise take 10 years or longer.

The Stolle family has owned more than 600 acres in the area, some on option to RG Properties.

Last December, Robert Majors told the Clearcreek Twp. Zoning Commission he had a contract for 500 acres in the plan area.

It was unclear how much of Majors’ land was optioned from the Stolles.

The land in the study area is generally south of Springboro.

Continuing south along Ohio 741, drivers quickly pass the Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices retirement campus, part of more than 1,400 acres to be developed as Union Village.

Ohio 741 then heads south toward Mason and crosses Ohio 63, which heads east to Lebanon and west past the Miami Valley Gaming racino, a Premium Outlets Mall and other development around an Interstate 75 interchange.

“This is an area of big change,” said Greg Smith of Oberer Development during the Dec. 5 zoning commission meeting.

He explained Oberer planned to replicate plans used by developer Bob Abernathy on Stone Ridge and Countrybrook, two upscale, large-lot housing developments in the area.

“We haven’t quite figured out how to beat gravity in this particular instance,” Smith said, suggesting the development would use septic systems and leave creeks flowing through the area, mostly at the backs of the home lots.

Oberer has since withdrawn plans to include commercial office or retail development.

On Jan. 9, the Clearcreek Twp. trustees approved Oberer’s plan for a housing subdivision to be served by a septic system and called Country Creek on 157.2 acres with frontage on Ohio 122, east of Red Lion, and Ohio 741, north of the center of town.

The sewer study is expected to project how far a sewer system relying on gravity, rather than pumps, can extend and how much residential, commercial or industrial development could be supported.

Palmer’s letter also asked Brausch to provide a cost estimate as well as “an explanation of funding strategies for the public sector, private sector and any public/private partnerships.”

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