Developer eyeing 65 acres in Warren County for possible housing

Lebanon City Council is expected to vote today to option to a residential developer about 65 acres of land along US 42 previously designated for expansion of one of its industrial parks.

It’s also the same piece of land the city tried to sell to the developers of more than 400 acres just south of the city property annexed into Mason and since developed as a housing subdivision. Under the pending deal, the city would option the land for a year to developer Mike Williams for $10,000.

Williams has agreed to pay the city $580,000 if he decides to buy the 64.9 acres off US 42 in Lebanon for a housing development.

The development would be connected by a trail to Highlands at Heritage Hill, a residential development off Columbia Road, across the city line in Union Twp. that is to be part of Homearama 2018 presented next July by the Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati.

MORE: Sewers key to 481-acre development

“The land is currently vacant and being utilized for agricultural purposes,” Lebanon City Manager Scott Brunka said in an email. “The property is surrounded by residential development to the north and south, with the city’s Columbia Business Park being to the east of the property.”

Also to the north is a compost center that was the subject of controversy several years ago. But there have been no recent complaints about odors or drainage from the facility, which has since limited the materials accepted.

MORE: Warren County limits compost centers

The city at first opposed the Highlands, because it is next to one of its industrial parks and business owners there opposed the development.

But the city is now providing sewer service to the Highlands and is ready to sell the other parcel, off US 42, along a stretch of the road between Lebanon and Mason where housing developments are changing the corridor from agricultural to residential.

Williams’ plan shows 17 1-acre lots between the compost center, like the Highlands in Union Twp., and the Ambleside Meadows residential development in Mason.

MORE: Lebanon, Mason vying to provide services on US 42

Williams is expected to develop the Lebanon land, which is inside the city limits, according to conservation design standards under which at least half of the land remains undeveloped to preserve “rural character and open vistas, and provides recreation and greenspace opportunities for the entire community,” according to city planning regulations.

Williams could not be reached for comment.

“Highland Development anticipates it being an expansion of their existing development. They are planning on connecting the two properties with a trail system,” Brunka said.

Plans call for a green space buffering the residential developments from the business park to provide screening and ensure separation between the two uses.

The optioned land was to be used to expand the city industrial park and create jobs.

“However, there are three federally designated wetlands on the property which make non-residential development very challenging and unlikely,” Brunka said. “The concept plan submitted by Highland Development does include the creation of a 2.5 acre parcel along U.S. 42 that would be commercial in use.”

The council meets at 7 p.m. at city hall, 50 S. Broadway in Lebanon.

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