1,400-acre Union Village still on drawing board in Warren County

Sports complex, other commercial districts, excluded from next approval.

Developers of Union Village, a proposed community that will include as many as 4,500 homes in Warren County, are moving ahead with the project, although plans for a sports complex there have stalled.

On Thursday, the Warren County Regional Planning Commission's Executive Committee recommended approval of the next stage in development of the 1,430-acre project, excluding special districts in the plan approved in October 2014.

The special districts include the proposed sports complex, as well as a college campus, medical facility and other commercial development expected to offset the heavy residential development of other parts of the property off Ohio 741 in Turtlecreek Twp.

“Those are going to come in separately when they have more details,” Matt Obringer, a planner for Warren County, said. “They are ready to start on other portions of the property, mainly on the village center across from the existing campus.”

Union Village is being developed by Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices, a retirement community non-profit, on more than 1,200 undeveloped acres on both sides of Ohio 741. The plan also includes its existing main campus on both sides of the road, as well as the undeveloped land that stretches to Greentree Road and Ohio 63.

Otterbein is expected to first develop 250 acres, including the Union Village town center retail area, and single- and multi-family homes. The entire $445 million plan, including $360 million on residential development, is to be executed over 45 years or more.

Last week, Otterbein officials said the start of construction was more tied to an agreement on sharing of taxes and expenses from the development between Otterbein, Turtlecreek Twp. and the Lebanon City Schools. Negotiations on this began more than a year ago, shortly after the October 2014 approval.

“Stage 2 approval has no impact on roll-out of Union Village, if approved. Roll out remains dependent upon the tax increment financing and New Community Authority (NCA) plans, still in development but making good progress, with Turtlecreek Township,” Gary Horning, Otterbein’s vice president of marketing and communications, said in an email.

Last week, Turtlecreek Twp. said there were no agreements or drafts to release in response to public records requests.

On Jan. 11, the Lebanon school board approved a letter of intent agreeing to accept 62 percent of the property taxes it would have received without formation of a tax incremental financing (TIF) district.

Property taxes from the development would be diverted into a fund to be split among the township, developer and school district. The letter, which said the final terms could be different, also laid out the splitting of revenues from assessments through a new community authority.

Eric Sotzing, treasurer of the school district, said the reduced tax revenues from the TIF would be offset by the higher property values.

“The anticipated development is significantly different than the typical residential and commercial property distribution throughout the district,” Sotzing said via email, adding that it has a much lower residential density than other developments in the area.

Otterbein is expected to include commercial development in the town center. But much of the remaining commercial development would be done in the areas not included in the Stage 2 approval recommended for approval considered Thursday.

Obringer said the Stage 2 approval had no bearing on assuring the commercial development took place. The committee recommended approval by the county commissioners at a meeting to be scheduled in February.

Before the sports complex can be developed at Union Village on land to be transferred from Otterbein to the county or Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the tax sharing plan must be in place, according to Horning.

Also, the visitors bureau needs to work out a solution to problems with enacting the lodgings tax hike, which is expected to pay for development of the sports complex.

“All of the machinations take time,” Horning said. “The land donation remains contingent on approval of the TIF/NCA and the support required to move forward with Union Village. Work is underway daily to make it happen.”

About the Author