Developer creating alternate design for housing development on former Middletown hospital site

By the middle of June, the future of 16 acres formerly owned by Middletown Regional Hospital should be a lot clearer.

Oaks Community Church, which purchased the land from the hospital in 2016 for $500,000 according to the Butler County Auditor’s Office, wants to sell the property to developer D.R. Horton that has proposed building 50 ranch-style homes.

But residents who live in and near the historic district expressed their concerns about the project’s density at a Middletown City Council meeting last month.

Now representatives from D.R. Horton are preparing at least one alternate design and hope to present it to city staff this week or early next week, Acting City Manager Paul Lolli told council during Tuesday night’s meeting.

Once the option has been received, Lolli said a meeting will be scheduled with city staff, Horton officials and neighborhood residents to review the new plan.

Then, he said, a public hearing can be held at the June 7 council meeting. He said at the June 21 meeting council members can vote to accept or reject the new plan or the original plan.

Council voted unanimously to reopen the public hearing on June 7, while councilman Tal Moon, a member of Oaks Community Church, abstained.

Lolli told council members: “I don’t see a downside” to considering another option.

In the end, he said, the goal is ensure the “right decision can be made for Middletown.”

Middletown City Council was scheduled to vote on the Horton plan at its May 3 meeting, but the legislation was pulled from the agenda to give the developers and city leaders more time to “evaluate,” according to a city official.

At the April 19 council meeting, a large crowd of concerned citizens said they were against the housing development.

Pastors from the church, a representative from D.R. Horton and a Middletown attorney spoke in support of the project, while 10 residents voiced their concerns about the project due to its density and potential problems it could create near the historic district.

If approved, as a part of the Planned Development process, the property would be rezoned to “Planned Development District” to acknowledge there is a development plan associated with the property, according to the city.

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