Hamilton City Council approves $1.5M purchase of 86 acres near Tylersville Road: What’s next for it?

Hamilton City Council on Wednesday approved the purchase of 86 acres of land along Tylersville Road for $1.5 million using city electric funds.

The city used that money, according to a report to council, because the land may be needed to create green energy in the future.

In response to questions from this media outlet, officials did not specify what kind low-carbon energy might be generated there by the city, which operates its own electric and other utilities. Windmills may be difficult to position there because of proximity to the Butler County Regional Airport.

When the council voted 7-0 to make the purchase of land that’s known as Hogan Farm, council members had no public discussion about the reasons for the purchase. The property is near the rapidly filling Hamilton Enterprise Park, which is now occupied by such companies as the 80 Acres indoor farming operation.

Some of the land could essentially be used as a nearby extension to the industrial park.

According to a report written for council by city Executive Director of Infrastructure Dan Moats, the property may be needed to generate green energy in the future. The seller is Hogan Financial Co. LLC.

Moats wrote: “With President Biden Administration’s climate plan to be carbon free by 2035, city staff is recommending the purchase of this greenfield site off of Tylersville Road (also known as the Hogan Farm) for $1,500,000.00 using Electric Funds, to be held by the Electric Utility.”

He added: “The property may not be needed entirely for a future generation project. If the city would decide to sell some of the land for conventional development in the future, the land would either have to be paid for by the developer (at the per acre price at which it was purchased) or the General Fund would have to reimburse the difference.”

When asked about windmills and other carbon-free options the city might consider, City Manager Joshua Smith’s office answered by email: “The size and type of infrastructure and potential generation opportunities are currently being evaluated as part of our long-term power planning. The purchase would be for the potential construction of an electric generation project in the event that the city’s load increases in the future or if further divestitures of current generating resources occur.”

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The email added: “Due to the explosive growth of electric consumers in East Hamilton (iMFLUX, Bilstein, 80 Acres, Saica, Tri-Health, etc), this site was deemed the most desirable. The Electric Utility is finishing construction of our Gateway substation in this same area, and we need to ensure long-term reliability.”

Hamilton Enterprise Park contains 214.8 acres, and, “As of the end of 2020, the City retained ownership of approximately 75 acres of land in Hamilton Enterprise Park,” Smith’s office wrote.

The sale price was set through negotiations with the property owner, and “the price per acre was favorable when compared to other recent property acquisitions in the area,” according to Smith’s office.

Electric funds were used for the purchase because “the property was acquired for utility use,” Smith’s office said, “but if an economic development prospect wished to purchase part of the property, the city would entertain that opportunity, provided the Electric Fund were to be made whole financially for the original purchase price.”

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The city last year started discussing items on its caucus agenda during public meetings, but since the coronavirus pandemic, verbal reports and public discussion has been halted. Although no verbal report was given to council during a meeting, city staff said, “This item first appeared as a caucus item on the Feb. 10 council agenda, so there were at least two meetings of City Council at which public input was possible.”

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