Traffic near $430M project along Ohio 63 a divisive issue

Lebanon council to vote Jan. 24 on huge development proposal along Ohio 63.

Residents who live near a proposed $430 million mixed-use housing development west of Lebanon continue to raise concerns about traffic along Ohio 63, just days before city council is scheduled to vote on the project.

The huge proposed Parkside at Lebanon development — 574 single-family homes, a 280-unit apartment complex, a 230-unit senior living facility, 178 townhomes, a park and a retail/office complex — was the focus of a public hearing Tuesday.

Some residents said developers RJ Real Estate and Doyle Hughes Development LLC have been receptive to concerns previously raised on Nov. 16 before the Lebanon Planning Commission. The developers have agreed to tree screening and no traffic connections to the Keeneland Estates subdivision.

However, residents remain concerned about traffic congestion on Ohio 63, which is only a two-lane road for most of its path from Lebanon to Interstate 75.

Chief among the concerns raised were the number of crashes along Ohio 63 as well as blind spots and the hill off McClure Road.

Kevin Leichliter, who lives off Ohio 63 and McClure Road, said he’s seen a number of crashes there as well as some of his property being taken for a possible turn lane for a widened state highway.

City Manager Scott Brunka said plans include widening Ohio 63 to three lanes along the frontage of the development. He said land for the widening would come from the north side of roadway.

Brunka said there would be two access points that will have traffic signals and another “right turn in, right turn out” access point at the west side of the development. He also said ODOT would have to approve the access points and signalization because Ohio 63 is a state highway.

Harley Shook, who also lives nearby, said the property is zoned rural residential and is supposed to have two-acre lots. He noted the developer does not live in Lebanon and asked council to deny the request.

“The developer knew this was rural residential and now he wants to make a buck,” he said. “... We need to stand up and not bend rules for a developer who wants to make money.”

Tuesday’s public hearing was to consider rezoning those 277 acres in the 1700 block of Ohio 63 from rural residential to a mixed use Planned Unit Development.

Lebanon City Council will consider approving the Parkside development at its Jan. 24 meeting.

One resident questioned the need for such a development, as Union Village is also planned to become a large housing development nearby on Ohio 741.

Janet Porter purchased her property in the 2500 block of Ohio 63 west of the proposed development 14 months ago and asked for a tree buffer along the property line. She said she was not informed of the project until recently.

Another resident raised concerns that McClure Road would become a bypass around Ohio 63 and said the road is dangerous now and may not meet Ohio Department of Transportation standards.

Developer Neil Hughes said the mixed-use, multi-generational development is being designed by land planners and architects at Nelson/Wakefield Beazley. He said the development features a senior village with cottages, independent living apartments, assisted living and memory care facilities.

“There was an extensive study (to develop the project),” Hughes said. “This will be a desirable area as a future corridor.”

Hughes said there will be a fully integrated mix of single-family homes, patio homes, townhomes and condominium flats, and luxury apartments.

Hughes’ company has been working on the project for the past two years with the property owner, city officials and ODOT’s District 8 office. He said the plan has been revised more than a dozen times after meeting with neighbors and city staff.

He said in addition to the 60-acre park, “it will be heavy on amenities” such as a trail system, a small fishing lake, club house with swimming pool, playground and dog park.

The project includes:

  • 60-acre park with public parking and walking trails;
  • 469 single-family homes in the $300,000 to $900,00 price range;
  • 105 single-family age-restricted homes in the $250,000 to $350,000 price range;
  • 178 single-family townhomes in the $250,000 to $300,000 price range;
  • 230-unit senior living facility at $200,000 per unit;
  • 280-unit multi-family at $200,000 per unit;
  • a $3.85 million retail/office development.

“The growth is coming,” Hughes said. “Do you want a chopped up hodge-podge, or a high caliber, well-designed project? We’ll be offering homes of up to $1 million and this will raise the property values in the community.”

Hughes said final engineering will start after council gives final approval for the project.

Brunka said construction on Phase 1 single-family homes could begin this summer. He said the project is planning a 10-year build-out and projected to add another 2,600 residents to the city.

The city has already annexed the land and is working with the developer and the Lebanon school district to develop a tax increment financing district that will generate the revenues for the improvements to Ohio 63.

Last year, the city purchased 60 acres in the development for a new public park.

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