Middletown leaders consider new housing options in city

Members of Middletown City Council, the Planning Commission along with city officials toured a five-bedroom home in Amelia July 25 that was developed by Ryan Homes. The home builder is interested in building new homes in the $150,000 to $200,000 in the Sawyer Mill area of Middletown. ED RICHTER/STAFF

Among the issues Middletown leaders see with the city’s current housing stock is being unable to provide homes for families leaving the city to find larger housing.

New construction of larger homes would help attract families to Middletown and also retain families in the community, according to City Manager Doug Adkins.

“Calling this ‘a 50-year decision,’” he said three-bedroom homes in the $150,000-plus price range “hit a lot of things we’re missing.”

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According to a recent housing study completed by Danter, it is estimated that Middletown has an annual demand for 127 new homes ranging in price between $150,000 and more than $500,000.

About 70 percent of Middletown’s housing stock is valued at less than $150,000, according to city officials.

Over the past few months, Ryan Homes have expressed an interest in building new homes in that price range in the Sawyer Mill area north of Manchester Road.

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Members of Middletown City Council and the Planning Commission toured a Ryan Homes development July 25 in Amelia, located in Clermont County about 50 miles from Middletown.

While the tour was a starting point, Adkins said there are many months of discussions ahead with City Council, the Planning Commission, Ryan Homes and other parties before any development could begin.

John Langhorne, a Planning Commission member, was initially skeptical about the homes in the Amelia Park subdivision that start at $159,990, according to the developer’s website.

“I was unsure of the quality of these homes, but I was pleasantly surprised with the quality I saw,” he said.

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He said that these types of homes at this price point fills a gap identified by the city’s housing study and would fill “a great need” that would allow young people a chance to build a next-level home in Middletown.

“This is the right type of product for what we need in Middletown,” Adkins said. “We could easily add 200 homes like these and the demand is there right now.”

According to Mark Locke of Ryan Homes, the homes in its “Simply Ryan” product line could be built on lots with 50-feet of frontage to 70-feet of frontage, with a price range of $150,000 to $200,000. The home sizes range from 1,296 to 1,366 square-feet for the smallest homes to as much as 1,980 square feet.

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Jeffrey Green, the city’s zoning officer, said if the city decides to work with Ryan Homes with this product line, it will require variances or other amendments to a federal consent decree from 2004 for the use of certain building materials on the first floor and the minimum sizes for one and two story homes.

Les Landen, Middletown law director, said if new homes built in the remaining phases of the Sawyer Mill development are constructed within the terms of the federal consent decree, the city would be bound by that. If the homes to be constructed outside of those terms, there would have to be a discussion with the parties involved in the consent decree, he said.

Landen said after the discussion on any amendments to the consent decree would have to be filed with the court.

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