Ross Twp. trying to balance growth with ability to provide services

Ross Twp. Trustee Tom Willsey said  too much growth too fast places a heavy burden on the township’s ability to provide services.
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Ross Twp. Trustee Tom Willsey said too much growth too fast places a heavy burden on the township’s ability to provide services.

United Dairy Farmers project in Ross Twp., which marks the first piece of the township's downtown redevelopment plan, is on track to open by December.

The township's Venice Downtown Redevelopment Plan, a blueprint for future development that trustees unveiled three years ago, envisions older houses being redeveloped into offices for professionals such as lawyers and accountants. New retail shops, restaurants and possibly a park are also part of the plan.

MORE: Ross Twp. downtown plan unveiled

Ross Twp. Trustee Tom Willsey said the goal for the new UDF wasn’t to spur droves of people wanting to redevelop downtown. He said a community without growth will eventually “die,” but too much growth too fast also places a heavy burden on the township’s ability to provide services. He said township officials are walking a fine line, trying to make smart growth decisions.

“We’re kind of taking baby steps on this thing,” he said. “If you live in Ross you hear both sides of the story. A lot of people want conveniences and a lot of people want to stop every building that would ever be built again. You know — lock gate on (Ohio) 128 and keep everyone else out.”

MORE: Ross Twp. poised to see Butler County’s ‘next burst in development,’ commissioner says

Willsey said the township modeled its downtown plan after Olde West Chester — a walkable place people can easily get to businesses. But, he said, the township does not want to become another big, bustling West Chester or Liberty Twp.

“We’re just trying to tether growth and keep it within the boundaries of what we think the people in the area moved out there for,” Willsey said. “For us to make Ross become a Liberty or a West Chester, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but for us to do that we would be defeating the wishes of the people we represent.”