LIBERTY TWP. — A zoning proposal for hundreds of new apartments and hotel near Liberty Center won approval but also drew sharp criticism from one trustee during this week’s Liberty Twp. meeting.
The planned project, which would be in the southwest corner of Liberty Center near Liberty Way street, would include 264 luxury apartments and a 145-room hotel.
Trustees voted 2-1 to approve the zoning changes recommended by the township zoning commission to allow the project to move to its next step, but not before hearing objections by Trustee Todd Minniear, who contended the area already has too many rental apartments.
Minniear said he supports the hotel but not any new apartments.
After the meeting Minniear said, “I think we have gone too far with the number of apartments along Liberty Way.”
Minniear said the original township approval plan for the $350 million Liberty Center, which opened in 2015 and is the largest development in the township’s history, included 239 apartments on the grounds.
“Since that time, there have been additional approved, not yet-built apartments along the 1.5-mile stretch of Liberty Way, now totaling 1,713. That’s far more than what the township plan envisioned,” he said.
But fellow Trustee Tom Farrell said adding apartments meets a statistically proven need for such structures.
“The apartment boom in America is real,” said Farrell, who added “you don’t want to be the township that has none.”
“And we don’t want to see our economic engine not grow because we don’t have what the rest of the world wants us to have. We don’t want to be dependent on apartments, but we also don’t want to be left behind.”
According to preliminary plans provided by the developer, the bottom floor of Liberty Center’s Taylor Street Garage would be reserved for residents of the new apartment complex.
Adding to the pending population density along Liberty Way are 70 luxury townhouse homes that just opened some units and remains under construction across the street from proposed new apartment complex and hotel.
And dozens more rental apartments – and other multi-housing complexes - will soon be constructed about a half mile east on Liberty Way as part of the $139 million Freedom Pointe project anchored by Butler County’s first Costco, which opened in November.
Almost all Liberty Twp. residents, outside of small, specially designated taxation neighborhoods, pay no income tax to help fund essential township services such a fire departments, EMS and police among others.
“My key criteria when considering development along Liberty Way is it must be commercial, which is the strongest support for our tax base and draw people from surrounding communities to spend in Liberty, and provide amenities to Liberty Township citizens,” said Minniear.
“The apartments do not check any of these boxes,” he said.