Middletown may waive fees to spur stalled home construction in subdivision

Members of Middletown City Council, the Planning Commission along with city officials toured a five-bedroom home in Amelia in July 2017 that was developed by Ryan Homes. The home builder is interested in building new homes in the $150,000 to $220,000 in the Sawyer Mill area of Middletown. ED RICHTER/STAFF
Members of Middletown City Council, the Planning Commission along with city officials toured a five-bedroom home in Amelia in July 2017 that was developed by Ryan Homes. The home builder is interested in building new homes in the $150,000 to $220,000 in the Sawyer Mill area of Middletown. ED RICHTER/STAFF

As many as 260 new homes are being proposed for the Sawyer’s Mill subdivision over the next three years, which officials hope can re-energize Middletown home construction that virtually stalled after the Great Recession.

Middletown City Council will consider an ordinance that would allow waiving 50 percent of the water and sewer tap-in fees for each house constructed to spur the project.

If council approves the proposed ordinance at its Tuesday meeting with NVR, Inc., which does business as Ryan Homes, the city will waive $2,500 for each tap-in to make the new homes more viable financially for Ryan Homes and the homeowners. In exchange, the houses to be built will have brick and/or stone materials on the front elevation.

If the ordinance is not approved, the exterior will likely be all vinyl with little distinguishing features, said Susan Cohen, city administrative director in her staff report.

City officials said the remainder of the water and sewer tap-in fees will be collected under current policy. Middletown charges $5,000 for a water tap-in and $5,000 for a sewer tap-in.

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Middletown officials said in the late 2000s, homes were constructed in that neighborhood in the northeast part of the city. However, during Great Recession, new home construction virtually stopped across the city. In 2017, NVR expressed interest in constructing homes in the Sawyer’s Mill neighborhood, which is in the Franklin City School District. The neighborhood is located off Dixie Highway, just north of Manchester Road.

Ryan Homes is preparing to start construction in the undeveloped portion of the neighborhood and expects to be in line with the city’s housing needs as well as the Development Code and the pending housing policy.

At a special meeting held by the city Planning Commission in August 2017, Ryan Homes representatives said the prices for the new homes would range between $150,000 and $220,000.

Council will hear a presentation of the city’s proposed housing policy and hold a public hearing at its Tuesday council meeting. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Middletown City Building. The proposed housing policy was developed for more than a year by the city’s Housing Committee that consisted of residents and other volunteers as well as real estate professionals.

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“The city is trying to rebalance its housing stock to be competitive in southwest Ohio,” said City Manager Doug Adkins. “Whether you are moving up or down in size, price, or amenities, we want Middletown to have several attractive options for whatever your current housing needs are. The Danter study from 2016 noted that we needed additional four bedroom homes in this price range, consistent with our overall housing goals.”

City Planning Director Ashley Combs said the amended Sawyer’s Mill subdivision plan will go to the city Planning Commission for review on Sept. 11 and return for final approval by council at its Oct. 15 meeting.

Construction of model homes could begin later this fall with new home building beginning in 2020.