ROSS TWP., Ohio — The Butler County commissioners received a round of applause Monday morning after they unanimously voted against creating a community authority for a proposed $353 million mega development in Ross Twp.
Commissioner Don Dixon has expressed strong opposition to the project and his fellow commissioners agreed after an impromptu vote on the matter. Residents packed the commission chamber to voice their deep concerns about the project.
Developer Ron Coffman asked the board a week ago to create a community authority to help finance $46.6 million for infrastructure improvements. He told the commissioners without the funding source he could not afford to build the project.
Coffman said it is essential for the development to proceed, because he is not going to “commit financial suicide” to build it without the new community authority (NCA).
“It won’t work financially at the current price the seller is asking for the property,” Coffman said. “If it’s not going to have the NCA I’m sorry I’m out, I can’t make it work.”
The 350-acre farm tract at the corner of U.S. 27 and Ohio 128 could have been developed with 339 mid-level and estate homes, senior cottages and assisted living,185 rental units and 124 units of “active adult housing.” A small portion, about 25 acres, would hold a hotel and neighborhood retail.
“I know we’re not supposed to vote today, but I can tell you I’m out,” Dixon said. “It doesn’t make any sense, I don’t think it’s good for Ross, I don’t think our constituents have had the input they need to have on this issue.”
A new community authority would have had the power to sell bonds to pay for infrastructure — including improving the major intersection — for the project and impose a 10-mill tax levy on new developments within the farm property. It is similar to the Liberty Community Authority formed for Liberty Center. The NCA could also impose higher sales taxes.
Commissioner T.C. Rogers said he agreed to the Liberty Center Community Authority because it largely was initiated to collect sales tax, not impose higher property taxes on residents which the Ross NCA would do.
“In this case they’re asking for an NCA to put additional property tax,” Rogers said. “As I look at it I really don’t think anybody should be adding a property tax which is continual on a year-to-year basis and never change.”