Union Village is to straddle Ohio 741. This rendering shows the first section to be built, across from Marble Hall, one of the oldest buildings on the Otterbein retirement campus.

Final vote looms on 4,500-home development in Warren County

Sports complex part of 1,400-acre plan for Turtlecreek Twp.

At 8 a.m. Tuesday, the trustees are to open a meeting to consider tax incentives on residential and commercial development, and formation of a new community authority, for Union Village, a new urbanist community expected to cover more than 1,400 acres, including the existing main campus of Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices.

“It’s such a huge project,” said Dan George, who in 15 years on the board of trustees said he has never dealt with a more complicated project.

The three trustees will vote on the tax incremental financing (TIF) district that will forgive half of the property taxes on homes and all the property taxes on commercial developments for 20 years to offset the cost of construction of roads and other infrastructure for the project.

“We’re a little concerned about the length of time on the TIF agreement,” George said. “It looks as though we may go ahead with it.”

In addition, after a public hearing, the trustees are expected to approve formation of a new community authority to assess property owners and other users and use the proceeds to maintain the development, build amenities and fund services.

If the trustees approve the tax incremental financing district and authority, as well as agreements to provide fire protection and other services to the development — projected to exceed 12,000 residents — Otterbein will transfer 109 acres to Warren County for a sports park.

County commissioners have already signed off on the tax sharing and community authority, as well as plans for the development and sports complex. In May, they are expected to raise by 1 percent the county lodgings tax to finance the $15 million complex.

“We at Otterbein are really excited about that development and look forward to the park anchoring the northern end of Union Village,” said Gary Horning, vice president of marketing and communications at Otterbein.

As much as $130 million is to be invested in big-box store shopping centers and retail areas.

The first commercial development is to be in the Union Village town center, across from Marble Hall, one of the original buildings at Otterbein, built by the United Methodist Church on land formerly a Shaker settlement.

Small retail stores would be operated at the street level; business offices, condominiums or apartments would be on upper floors of the buildings. About 50 homes would also be built during the 50-acre first phase.

“Next spring remains realistic,” Horning added via email.

According to the tax-sharing agreements, Union Village is expected to create 3,400 jobs, more than 400 a year in construction.

Depending on demand, it is to take shape over 35 to 50 years.

“It’s going to be a long, drawn-out affair,” Jones said.

Other amenities proposed include medical facilities, a college campus and an arts center. The new development is expected to mesh with the existing senior-citizen facilities, creating a multigenerational community connected by paths, trails and roads.

Otterbein has formed a development company for the project.

The seven-member board formed to oversee the new community authority — permitted in Ohio only in developments of at least 1,000 acres — is to meet for the first time on Wednesday.

Turtlecreek Twp. and the land to become Union Village are between Interstate 75 and Interstate 71.

“I had a concern it might grow in a negative direction,” said Turtlecreek Twp. Trustee Jon Sams. “Union Village is a blessing and a gift.”

Plans call for 20 percent of Union Village to be set aside for “civic spaces:” parks, trails, playgrounds, squares and a cemetery. A school is also envisioned.

The boards of the Lebanon City Schools and the Warren County Career agreed to forgive taxes from the phases of the project for 20 years.

“This is an opportunity for positive growth,” said Sams, who also sits on the board of the Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) and represented the CVB as a lawyer in its negotiations for the sports park.