Office, medical space a priority in Hamilton, Fairfield Twp. district

  • Mike Rutledge
  • Staff Writer
March 22, 2017

Fairfield Twp. and Hamilton are moving to expand the joint development district they created in 1996 to include a 184.2-acre area southwest of the intersection of Ohio 129 and the Ohio 4 Bypass.

The current embodiment of the district helped attract Walmart and Home Depot to the township. The two local governments hope the expanded area will lure other kinds of development nearby.

“A master plan will be created,” with the goal of providing “first-class office, medical and commercial space to complement what already exists in the area,” Hamilton City Manager Joshua Smith said.

All the property owners approved being part of the district, which is entirely located in the township. As part of the proposed agreement, Hamilton will have the right to provide electric and natural-gas services to the expanded area, with the cost of those expanded utilities possibly paid partly through special assessments or other charges to property owners.

Smith called the proposed amendment “a win/win for Fairfield Twp. and the city of Hamilton.”

Hamilton already approved its legislation to amend the district agreement. Fairfield Twp. trustees will hold a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. today, March 22, at the Fairfield Township Administration Building, 6032 Morris Road, to discuss the proposed agreement.

Signs along highways near the area will welcome motorists to the Fairfield Twp. and city of Hamilton Joint Economic Development District.

The existing “Hamilton-Indian Springs Joint Economic Development District” (JEDD) between the two governments was created in August 1996, and was expanded August 2004 to include what is now the Bridgewater Falls development.

“This JEDD is an outstanding regional economic development for both Hamilton and Fairfield Twp.,” said township Trustee Shannon Hartkemeyer. “It is my hope that these two communities can work together in such a fashion that we will help both our communities and our region as a whole.”

“Encouraging economic development in this area is critical to the financial position of Fairfield Twp.,” Hartkemeyer said. “This new development opens the door for this project and hopefully, many more to come.”

There are other key changes to the JEDD agreement, in addition to expanding its territory.

Under the original pact, 75 percent of revenue went to the city, and 25 percent went to the township, Smith said. When the agreement was amended in 2005, the governments agreed that 75 percent would go to the township and 25 percent would go to the city.

“In the current amendment, which was voted by City Council at the (March 8) meeting, it splits the income-tax revenue 50-50,” Smith said. “The reason I believe it’s a 50-50 is the city is putting a lot of money up-front, into the infrastructure,” Smith said. “We’re helping improve the road at the intersection of Gilmore (Road) and Hamilton-Mason (Road).

Under the proposed pact, the city is responsible for up to $2 million in roadway improvements by 2020, which the city likely will finance over 20 years at a 3.5 interest rate. To meet the annual debt payments of $144,000, the area would have to have $14.4 in annual payroll.

“We (Hamilton) are also putting utility infrastructure in, and we’re handling the economic-development marketing efforts of that area,” Smith said.

The city already has utility infrastructure nearby, “because we have an industrial park right across the street,” he said.

Tim Abbott, a Fairfield city councilman representing Duke Energy, where he is a regional manager, attended Hamilton’s March 8 council meeting and noted Duke serves the exiting JEDD areas, “and we intend to serve the expanded JEDD as well.”

“It’s in Duke Energy’s territory, and we will vigorously defend our rights to serve our gas and electric service territory in Ohio,” Abbott said, voicing objection to Hamilton serving as gas and electric in the JEDD.

Hamilton operates its own municipally-owned electric.

“We get it,” Smith said in an interview after Abbott’s comments. “Duke is also out there with utilities, and they would like to serve it also. We believe the law is on our side on that issue, and I’m sure it’ll be resolved soon.”

Water and sewer service would be provided by Butler County.

Staff writer Michael D. Pitman contributed to this story.