Monroe City Council trying to ‘balance’ needs of residents, business owners

Tom Ratterman, who owns 109 acres off Lawton Avenue in Monroe, told City Council this week that he doesn't want the land rezoned to residential. Monroe resident Lisa Frye said neighbors she talked to don't want the land rezoned from light industrial to industrial/commercial. FILE PHOTO
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Tom Ratterman, who owns 109 acres off Lawton Avenue in Monroe, told City Council this week that he doesn't want the land rezoned to residential. Monroe resident Lisa Frye said neighbors she talked to don't want the land rezoned from light industrial to industrial/commercial. FILE PHOTO

A Monroe property owner and a Monroe resident were on opposite sides regarding the future use of 109 acres in the city.

At last week’s City Council meeting, members heard the first reading of the Advance Monroe 2040 Comprehensive Plan. They plan to hear the second reading in early November when Mayor Jason Frentzel returns after missing two meetings.

At its Sept. 21 meeting, the Planning Commission voted 3-1 for City Council to adopt the update to the comprehensive plan. The plan is “community driven” and articulates the long-term goals and objectives for the city’s growth and development, the city said.

Kevin Chesar, Monroe’s development director, said while the plan intends to give a 20- to 25-year look into the future, it should be continually reviewed and updated.

Before the vote, Tom Ratterman, who bought the 109 acres off Lawton Avenue nine years ago, said he believes the property should remain industrial/commercial instead of being rezoned residential.

But Monroe resident Lisa Frye said neighbors in the area don’t want to live in “an industrial city.”

She said if Monroe continues attracting large industrial businesses, it will drive out residents.

“The word is balance,” she said. “We don’t want big buildings in our back yard.”

Ratterman told council that location would be the “least impactful” to Monroe residents because the trucks would enter and exit off an Ohio 63 that would be built. He called it “a very good location for business.”

He said one study called the acreage the top development site in Butler County.

“You have a gem here,” he told council.

Council member Tom Callahan asked Ratterman, who doesn’t live in the city, why he invested in Monroe.

“It was an opportunity,” said Ratterman, who owns acreage throughout Warren County. He called Monroe’s land “the best of all. I want to be part of Monroe.”

Chesar told council that the city’s comprehensive plan was a policy document and hadn’t been updated for more than 10 years. He said if council approves the changes it would take a least six months for some of them to take effect.

“The clock is ticking,” Ratterman said. “I’m under the gun.”

Instead of waiting for the right industry to build on his property, Ratterman said he may meet with an engineer to start the development process.

Council member Christina McElfresh said residents have expressed their desire to limit the amount of semi trucks and warehouses in the city. She said it’s a balancing act between what the residents want and what the businesses want.

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