Third public hearing on proposed Middletown housing development set

Acting city manager also addresses damage, response to June 13 storms.

The next step in the possible development of 16 acres in Middletown, called the “last piece of prime real estate in the city,” and the way the city of Middletown and county responded to the recent storms were the major topics during Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

The legislation involving the Hill Property was pulled from the agenda and Paul Lolli, fire chief and acting city manager, said the possible developer D.R. Horton asked for more time to create another option for residents to review and for council to consider.

If approved, as a part of the Planned Development process, the property would be rezoned to “Planned Development District” to acknowledge there is a development plan associated with the property, according to the city.

Lolli said representatives from D.R. Horton want to create a fourth option for the land formerly owned by Middletown Regional Hospital and purchased by Oaks Community Church for $500,000 in 2016, according to the Butler County Auditor’s Office.

The first three options were opposed by residents of the Historic District during the first two public hearings.

Neighbors said they’re against building 50 ranch-style homes on the property due to the density of the development, the size of the homes and the additional traffic the neighborhood would generate.

Lolli said he expects the next proposal to include 40-44 homes. He said D.R. Horton wants to have time to address residents’ concerns during a town hall meeting before the next vote by City Council. The next public hearing, the third on the project, probably will be held July 19, he said.

City Council voted 3-1 to give D.R. Horton additional time to make another presentation. Mayor Nicole Condrey voted no and council member Tal Moon, who is affiliated with the church, abstained as he has throughout the process.

“It can’t hurt to see an alternative plan,” said Vice Mayor Monica Nenni.

If Moon doesn’t vote on the ordinance, three of the four other council members would have to vote for it to pass. That vote is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 2.

Lolli also addressed the storms on June 13 that brought 72 mph winds and left behind “major damage” in parts of the city.

He said there were five reports of structure fires within the first 36 hours, mostly weather related. He said the department received numerous calls from residents who were on oxygen at home and had lost power. Some of the residents were transported to Atrium Medical Center or Kettering Health Network, he said.

The city received assistance from the Butler County Emergency Management Agency, Lolli said.

Jim Bolen, deputy director of the EMA, said his agency surveyed 244 storm sites throughout Butler County and Middletown and Hamilton were the two “hardest hit” cities.

He said the Butler County Fairgrounds were used as the logistical staging area for the 150 Duke Energy trucks and 400 Duke employees who responded to the storm damage.


TIMELINE OF PROPOSED HILL DEVELOPMENT

2016: Oaks Community Church purchases 16 acres from Middletown Regional Hospital for $500,000, according to the Butler County Auditor’s Office.

March 9, 2022: Planning Commission approves the Hill Preliminary Development Plan and Map Amendment for a new subdivision that proposes 50 single-family homes with public streets.

April 19: A large crowd of concerned citizens say they’re against the housing development. Pastors from the Oaks Community Church, a representative from D.R. Horton and a Middletown attorney speak in support of the project, while 10 residents voice their concerns.

May 3: The legislation is pulled from the City Council agenda to give the developers and city leaders more time to “evaluate,” according to a city official. Council was scheduled to hear the second reading, then vote on the legislation.

June 7: Representatives from D.R. Horton present three options for the property. Nine Middletown residents say they’re against the development during a public hearing.

June 21: Legislation is pulled from the City Council agenda.

July 19: Another public hearing is scheduled during 5:30 p.m. City Council meeting.

Aug. 2: A possible vote on the legislation.

SOURCE: City of Middletown, Journal-News archives

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