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Butler County puts funds for large development on hold

Butler County Commissioners could grant $44 million in bond money to pave the way for a new assisted and independent living facility could bring more than 100 new jobs to Fairfield Twp. .

Michigan-based StoryPoint, which offers independent living, assisted living and memory care, is looking to build its facility on roughly 16 acres of the property known as the Grace Lutheran site at Hamilton-Mason and Gilmore roads.

But commissioners on Monday voted to table consideration of the Butler County Port Authority issuing revenue bonds for the project until Hamilton and Fairfield Twp. officials finalize expansion of a special tax district known as a joint economic development district, or JEDD.

Commissioner Don Dixon said the expansion will open “a couple of hundred acres” of development, but commissioners want to see JEDD documents before proceeding.

“This is a very complicated process,” Dixon said. “This involves Fairfield Twp., it involves Fairfield Schools, involves the city of Hamilton and us and this is, I think, the first time this type of collaboration has gone on. It’s something I believe is going to be a trendsetter for the county.”

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Dixon said it was the job of the commission to look at the issuance of the bonds and ensure they are in the best interest of the county.

“Everybody has to understand what the agreement is because this is a multi-million deal,” he said. “We’re looking at 200 additional acres, which is a huge, huge impact to all of us.”

Fairfield Twp. Trustee Shannon Hartkemeyer said the JEDD process “is on track to move forward.” A timeline or details of the JEDD are premature to be released, she said. However, the district will expand the original Hamilton-Indian Springs JEDD contract from August 1996 to include 209 acres that includes property on both sides of Gilmore Road, according to a Dec. 6, 2016, non-binding letter of intent signed by Fairfield Twp. Administrator Julie Vonderhaar and Hamilton City Manager Joshua Smith.

“This is a win for Fairfield Twp.,” Hartkemeyer said. “Developing that Gilmore Road corridor will help our community, and I hope it will help Fairfield Twp.’s financial position.”

Fairfield Twp. Trustee President Susan Berding said the township will also have a compensation agreement with the Fairfield City Schools if this tax district is approved by both local governments.

The StoryPoint development could serve as a catalyst for development for the Gilmore Road corridor, she said. And by working together, both communities will benefit from tax dollars generated from development.

“A rising tide raises all boats,” Hartkemeyer said. “I think Fairfield Twp. and Hamilton share the goal of economic development, and it’s my hope that we can work together to grow both our communities.”

StoryPoint estimates more than 1,500 units for independent and assisted living, and memory care are needed within a 15-mile radius around the township.

The company is headquartered in Brighton, Mich., with three locations in Michigan and two in Ohio — Grove City and Troy. The company also owns a line of 10 Independence Village facilities in Michigan and Ohio.

The Journal-News reached out to Hamilton officials Monday, but they were meeting about the project and unavailable for comment.

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