Lebanon maps future development of 500 acres: ‘This is huge’

Columbus-based consultants will map out future uses of more than 500 mostly undeveloped acres west of Lebanon, land that borders a proposed 1,400-acre planned community in neighboring Turtlecreek Twp.

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“This is a gateway entry into the city. There is a lot of activity going on there,” Lebanon City Councilman Jeff Aylor said during a council meeting this month. “It’s really important we have a comprehensive approach to how we want to develop that property.”

The Lebanon council approved a $59,000 contract with consultant OHM Advisors to put together a five-year plan for the West Main Street Corridor, land adjoining the section of Ohio 63, which is Main Street in Lebanon, west of downtown.

The land includes about 200 acres outside the city limits in the adjoining township, as well as more than 300 inside Lebanon’s current limits.

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The study area extends close to the southeastern corner of Union Village, a community expected to grow to 4,500 homes over the next 30 years. The first phase — including a downtown center — is to begin taking shape early next year.

Roughly three miles west of the study area is a busy commercial hub featuring a Premium Outlets Mall, the Miami Valley Gaming racino and a busy business park next expected to add an Amazon distribution center.

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Development advocates also look forward to the sale of hundreds of acres of state land around the two prisons on this section of Ohio 63, expected to lead to more growth in this area about halfway between Dayton and Cincinnati and leading on Ohio 63 from Interstate 75 to downtown Lebanon.

“When you take all of those things combined,” Martin Russell, economic development director and deputy administrator in Warren County, said. “You’re going to see a completely different corridor” within 15 years.

Recognizing the changes under way, Lebanon officials want to map out the available land to identify development opportunities on the undeveloped land within or near their municipal limits and within reach of the city’s existing sewer system.

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“We want to try to, if not get ahead, at least make sure we have a plan,” Lebanon City Manager Scott Brunka said during a Nov. 20 work session discussion.

The study area is still subject to change, but currently begins just east of the intersection of West Main and Neil Armstrong Way, a new extension of Ohio 123 that has sparked development plans, including the proposed relocations of the local Ford and Chrysler dealerships.

The city itself owns 90 acres previously acquired for water wells no longer needed since the city contracted with Cincinnati for water service.

The city plans to form a committee largely made up of affected land owners to guide the process with the consultant over up to two years.

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The city is footing the bill for this study, although 200 acres of the area to be mapped out lies in Turtlecreek Twp.

“We have a great relationship with Lebanon,” Township Trustee Jon Sams said, noting the local governments have collaborated on other plans, including one mapping out a trail system.

As the West Main Corridor Study process gets going, Sams said regional leaders were putting the finishing touches on the Crossroads at Union Village plan, focused on the area along Ohio 741 leading past Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices's main campus and the land where Union Village and the Sports Complex at Union Village are to take shape.

“Roads are the No. 1 issue,” Sams said.

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So far, transportation officials say there is no money to improve Ohio 63 or Ohio 741 in anticipation of coming development.

Dan and Marg Cunningham live on an 80-acre farm on the stretch of Ohio 63 in Turtlecreek Twp. east of Ohio 741, leading into Lebanon.

The land has been in their family since 1971 and is to be part of the West Main Street Corridor Study area.

“You cannot stop development,” Dan Cunningham said. “Our way of life has changed.”

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The Cunninghams were planning to continue living there, but changes have made it difficult to enjoy their rural locations.

Already traffic makes it difficult to turn out of their driveway, and they are considering the likely future use of their land.

“The city should look broadly at this,” Cunningham said. “This is the biggest thing in Warren County that I can remember. This is huge.”

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