Land of Illusion owner withdraws expansion plan, will prepare new proposal

Deciding the future plans of an entertainment complex in Butler County will have to wait.

The Butler County commissioners were set to meet Monday with representatives from Land of Illusion after a proposed expansion plan earlier was denied by the county Rural Zoning Commission.

But on Wednesday afternoon, Cincinnati-based attorney Jonathan Wocher, who represents Land of Illusion, contacted the commissioners and said he was withdrawing the zoning application, said Judi Boyko, Butler County administrator.

She said the commissioners will meet as scheduled, but the zoning application won’t be reviewed. The county commission could have accepted, modified or rejected the recommendation from the Rural Zoning Commission.

Earlier, Wocher sent an email June 18 requesting the public hearing be postponed to allow his team additional time to “respond and modify plans” based on community comments expressed at the June 15 Rural Zoning Commission meeting.

Six days later, the commissioners said the request to delay the hearing was denied. The hearing was legally advertised and publicly noticed to the property owners contiguous to and across from the subject property, the letter read.

Land of Illusion owner Brett Oakley on Wednesday said he’s preparing “a different concept” and looks forward to presenting it to the commissioners and the public at a future date, he said.

At the previous hearing, more than 35 residents commented and nearly all were in opposition with many concerned about safety, road capacity and increased traffic that an expansion would create, said county Planning Administrator Zeb Acuff.

Oakley sought the zone change for 227.5 acres on the north side of Thomas Road, east of Ohio 4, and west of Franklin-Madison Road. The expansion project was to include a family entertainment facility, campground, water parks, hotel, an outdoor adventure area, amusement rides and other entertainment activities, he said.

Madison Twp. Trustees Alan Daniel and Brian McGuire issued a letter of opposition to the commission saying Thomas Road would be negatively affected by increased traffic and road blockage, excessive wear and tear, and smooth access to Ohio 4.

Oakley said the project could create 400 to 500 jobs for the area and the investment would be between $75 million to $250 million. He wants to make the park a year-round destination location for visitors.

The area is already zoned for residential, but Oakley believes expanding the entertainment complex would complement Spooky Nook, the athletic complex being built in Hamilton. He thinks Land of Illusion could offer options for families visiting Spooky Nook.

“We want to create something good,” said Oakley. “Bring people to Butler County and help Middletown and Madison Twp.”

He said the complex would provide “long-term, reoccurring revenue” for the region.

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