Monroe, Liberty Twp. team up to create I-75 district supporting development

Monroe City Council approved the annual street paving and concrete rehab contract for 2017. ED RICHTER/STAFF

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Monroe City Council approved the annual street paving and concrete rehab contract for 2017. ED RICHTER/STAFF

A recently launched program by two Butler County communities is designed to spark and support economic development along the Interstate 75 corridor.

Monroe and Liberty Twp. have teamed up to create the I-75 Energy Special Improvement District (ESID), a program aimed at providing a convenient way for commercial/industrial properties to finance energy efficient improvements by accessing Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, according to Jennifer Patterson, Monroe’s assistant to the city manager for economic development.

“There were businesses who wanted to invest in our area, whether it’s new construction or expensive remodeling, that if there was a way to make that easier for them, that would benefit both of our communities from an economic development perspective,” Patterson said.

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The two communities have been working for the past 18 months on the ESID, which has already had its first meeting. Board members representing Liberty include Economic Development Director Caroline McKinney and Trustee Steve Schramm. Representing Monroe are Patterson and Council member Robert Routson. Rounding out the board is Andrea Pinho, REDI Cincinnati’s site selection and real estate manager.

Projects brought before the board are first vetted by a design professional, architect or engineer to verify the measure is a more energy efficient solution than what would be required under a community’s building code, Patterson said.

The board would then review the improvements and forward them on to each individual community’s elected officials for final approval.

“Once everybody’s on the same page, the building or property owner ... they do the project normally, but there’s a special assessment that recoups those costs down the road for them,” Patterson said. “Instead of having cash up front for the project, they basically get to borrow through case financing.”

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Both communities were proactive in setting this up by using a “demonstration project” in each to move the district forward, said Liberty Twp.‘s McKinney.

“It’s just another tool in the toolbox, and another tool that developers, property owners can look at, if it makes sense (for them),” McKinney said.

The program can spread energy improvement costs out over 15 to 25 years.

McKinney said the program embodies intergovernmental cooperation as both communities try to make investments in new construction and renovation as easy and economical as possible for area commercial and industrial businesses.

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Qualified projects reduce the demand or increase the production of clean, renewable energy and are based on six categories: solar, geothermal, wind, gasification, biomass and energy efficiency improvements.

That may include lighting, roofs, windows, HVAC systems, air sealing, insulation, demand reduction controls, high velocity ceiling fans and similar market-proven technologies.

For information in Monroe, call 513-539-7374, ext. 1023. Those in Liberty should call 513-759-7510.

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