Springboro leaders drove 2.5 hours to meet with Austin South developer

Springboro City Council met in March with developer Larry Dillin during an overnight trip to Perrysburg as part of nearly a year of work on Dillin’s proposed development of Austin Landing South.

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Preparations for the meeting, which was publicized as a special session, and other communications between city officials and Dillin, were included in emails provided to this newspaper in response to public records requests.

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The council drove north nearly 2.5 hours to Dillin’s Levis Commons development in Perrysburg, on the recommendation of Springboro City Manager Christine Thompson, Dillin said in an email provided by Springboro officials.

Thompson was familiar with Levis Commons from personal visits and urged the council to make the road trip after discussions with him, Dillin said.

“To cement her point, Chris has scheduled her entire City Council and Planning Director to travel to Levis on March 2 for an unguided tour of the property, dinner at Biaggi’s and an overnight stay at the Hilton Garden Inn,” Dillin said in the email to members of a Perrysburg board that provided oversight on Dillin’s project there.

The newspaper made the records request after Springboro declined to provide information about the development following passage of an agreement with the Warren County Port Authority to help put together public subsidies for the project.

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The emails indicate investment specialists working with Dillin began communicating with Thompson and other city officials last year before the Fourth of July holiday.

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The communications continued at least into May, when Dillin told Thompson and Assistant City Manager Chris Pozzuto about a party featuring skydivers “on the current vacant field that will soon become Austin Landing South (or other more catchy name…) “

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On Monday, Thompson said she felt the trip to Perrysburg was necessary to help the council decide whether to work with Dillin on the development of land connected to one of the city’s industrial parks and comprising one of its last large of undeveloped tracts.

The land also was the source of litigation with the previous owner, settled with a consent decree limiting what could be built and preventing construction of a Walmart there.

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“It’s got a high level of importance for Springboro,” Thompson said. “Imagine if we’d put a Walmart there.”

She said the city would provide more details on the development once a formal proposal was made by Dillin.

Dillin did not respond to a request for a response.

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