Oakley church fights proposed apartment construction project

Posted at 12:58 AM, Sep 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-07 00:58:57-04

CINCINNATI -- A proposed Oakley apartment complex will not be receiving the blessing of its would-be neighbor, St. Cecilia Catholic Church.

St. Cecilia clergy and parishioners, some of them holding signs, packed the room at an Oakley Community Council meeting Tuesday night to make their voices heard. Some said they believe the proposed five-story building, which would house both restaurants and apartments, could be a positive addition to the city -- just not to the street across from the church.

Father Jamie Weber summed it up: “Good idea, bad location."

"We are worried about the safety of our children," said parishioner Susan Kellison.

Around 350 children attend St. Cecilia School, and attendees such as Kellison and Father Jason Williams said they worried that increased vehicle traffic could be dangerous for children walking to and from classes.

Other concerns raised by attendees included parking space and permanently altering Oakley’s skyline with an out-of-place structure.

"There’s a certain quaintness to the community," Father Williams said. “It’s a small skyline. You’d kind of lose the homecoming feeling of driving down the street, coming into Oakley."

Development director Stephen Dronen said the Fortus Group, the Indiana-based developer behind the project, has already made major changes to its plan, including making the complex shorter (the original plan called for eight stories), adding green spaces and reducing the number of entrances to the building.

"We’re going to continue to press this issue until it becomes not a safety issue for that corner," Dronen said. “(We will) try to understand what reservations they have about seeing new development in the neighborhood and try to address those and move forward."