Warren County OKs new 1,400 acre planned community

The Union Village community is described as walkable, bikeable and new urbanist.

Plans for a 1,430-acre planned community - including up to 4,500 homes, along with retail centers, offices, hospital and athletic facilities, and an arts center on land outside Lebanon - were approved Tuesday by the Warren County Board of Commissioners.

The commissioners voted 2-0 to approve plans for Union Village, a development proposed by Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices on land including and surrounding its original retirement campus on Ohio 741 in Turtlecreek Twp.

“A town called Union Village will once again appear on our county maps,” Commissioner Pat South said, referring to the land’s previous owners, the Union Village Shakers, a religious order that sold the land to the churches that formed the Otterbein retirement community more than 100 years ago.

Commissioner Tom Ariss abstained from the vote, ending months of discussions, because he is also on the Otterbein board.

Otterbein’s plan sets aside 93.4 acres for a sports complex, on land across Ohio 741 from Warren County’s Armco Park, as requested by the commissioners. The complex would be operated by the Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

No land or funding was set aside for schools, as originally requested by the commissioners.

But officials from Otterbein and the Lebanon City Schools said the school district would be part of negotiations of a tax incremental financing district used by Otterbein to fund roads and other infrastructure improvements on the land.

The district is expected to receive a portion of property taxes on improvements.

“At this point, I’m comfortable with what they’ve decided,” Eric Sotzing, treasurer for the school district, said after the meeting. “In the future, the school district will have to be part of the discussion.”

Union Village is to be a walkable, new urbanist community designed by architects and planners known for designing large planned communities around the country.

“I love the feeling we’re building a new village of Mariemont,” said Commissioner Dave Young, referring to a planned community in Cincinnati.

Otterbein is expected to seek $40 million in financing for a 250-acre first phase to include retail and residential development, across Ohio 741 from the existing retirement campus, over the next decade.

The entire development is expected to take shape over 30 to 40 years. Otterbein is also expected to create a community authority to fund services to Union Village.

“We move forward to the next hurdle,” Gary Horning, vice president for marketing and communications at Otterbein, said after the meeting. “This is going to be a slow and methodical process.”

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