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HARRISON, Ohio - Right now, the property at 9901 Simonson Road in Harrison Township is little more than a haven for butterflies.
Both the township and the city of Harrison have zoned it to be much more, according to Harrison's mayor, Joel McGuire.
"For the development of industrial and commercial, tax paying, job creating developments," he said.
But the buyers of the property appear to be planning none of that. The Jehovah's Witnesses want to build an assembly hall there to service their members in the region. Their status as a religious organization makes them tax exempt.
"It won't produce any jobs or any tax revenue," McGuire said.
Next door to the property, the owner of 3S Incorporated is not putting out any welcome mats.
"We couldn't be more against it," said Matt Euson.
Euson says he moved his plant here from Indiana to be a part of an industrial park.
"In a time when we need to develop jobs and a tax base for this city, this is a project that's taking up a massive area of land that's not going to create any of those things," he said.
For those reasons the rural zoning commission denied the application to build the facility.
The Jehovah's Witnesses are appealing to the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners who have scheduled a public hearing on the matter for next week.
Until then, representatives of the denomination refuse to make any comment on the issue, saying they "Don't want to fan the flames of debate."
The hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday Aug. 8 during the commissioner's regular meeting.
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