The Ross Twp. trustees have ensured the schools will be made whole when the tax increment financing district becomes operational for the new UDF store downtown.
Two identical agreements, one for the Ross Local School District and another for Butler Tech, were passed Thursday. Township Administrator Bob Bass said they won’t know how much the TIF will bring in until the store is built and open for business, but they felt the need to protect the schools.
“Ross is more than thrilled with what we’re giving them because we didn’t have to do it,” Bass said. “We could have kept all the money for ourselves but we’re both serving the same people so it just didn’t make sense to not work together with them and make sure they were covered as well.”
Ross Local Treasurer John Kinsel said the schools are very grateful the township made this move.
“I think it’s a vote of confidence from them in terms of their support of the schools,” Kinsel said. “We very much appreciate what they did.”
The 10-year TIF doesn’t kick in until there is an actual operational store where the old Venice Castle restaurant once stood. The township and UDF reached a $600,000 deal last April to build the store but there is still a vacant lot at the corner of Ohio 128 and Cincinnati Brookville Road.
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Construction was expected to start last July but Bass said there are issues still being worked out for site access and storm water retention.
Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens said the state has some issues with the planned access off of Ohio 128 and his office is working with UDF on the Cincinnati Brookville Road side.
Because gas tanks can’t be in the flood plain they have to build up the property, which means a pretty steep driveway. The location of the entrance also concerns him.
“They want full access which puts us in the middle of a turn lane so that means they’ve got to cross three lanes of traffic getting out,” he said. “Which we would prefer not. We’re still working with them to see if they can provide access somewhere else, but I don’t know if that’s going to work.”
Bass said another factor in the hold up is that UDF apparently is opening a large number of new locations. He said the person he dealt with during the sale of the property told him they are opening more than 20 new stores.
“I don’t know the exact number but it’s in the 20s as to the number of new facilities he’s dealing with right now and each one of them has its own unique set of circumstances that delay and hold things up,” he said. “I was hoping by now they’d be under construction but I don’t get to make that call.”