Proposed outdoor resort near Kings Island gets first approval

The developer behind a proposed 52-acre outdoor resort near the Kings Island amusement park has said he will spend as much as $30 million on the project and have the development be subject to local property taxes benefiting the local school district.

But the developer, Dick Haglage, told a county land-use board during a meeting last week that he is unsure which of the 334 sites proposed at the resort would be subject to lodgings tax being used to pay for the $15 million Warren County Sports Park at Union Village.

Haglage was responding to questions last week from residents and officials during a review of plans for the Kings Mills Outdoor Resort by the Warren County Regional Planning Commission Executive Committee.

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“If money is going to be made off it, it needs to contribute to the schools,” resident Keri Arinsmier said during comments and questions last Thursday at the Warren County Administrative Building in Lebanon.

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After the hearing the committee voted to support Haglage’s request to rezone the land, along Interstate 71, just north of the Ohio 741-Kings Mills Road interchange.

Plans for the resort call for 182 sites for recreational vehicles, 114 one- and two-bedroom cabins and 38 3o-foot diameter two-bedroom yurts, which are circular tents. Staff indicated 145 homes would have been permitted on the site, which is behind the McDonald's restaurant on the northeast corner of the interchange.

After the meeting, Deputy Administrator Martin Russell said he anticipated that only visitors staying in the cabins or yurts would pay the lodging tax, not visitors who used the RV sites.

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Arinsmier, who attended the meeting, asked how the project would affect Kings Local Schools. Haglage said the development would not be a burden to district, since school-age visitors staying at the resort would not be attending local schools.

Haglage said the upscale development would bring people from near and far likely to visit local restaurants and attractions including Kings Island, as well as the Great Wolf Lodge, sitting where Kings Island’s campground previously was located.

“We feel like we are adding something to that,” he said.

Haglage said the resort would be more upscale than traditional campgrounds.

He said his company Terrra Firma, purchased the land intending to develop a shopping center or office campus on the land, but had been unsuccessful.

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Property records show the land was purchased in January 2003 for $1.3 million and the 2018 property tax is $35,186.

After the meeting, Phillip Smith, president and CEO of the Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said he supported the project even after learning that the people staying on the RV portion of the resort may not be subject to the lodging tax.

Lodging taxes are being earmarked to pay for development of the sports park, which the visitors bureau will be managing. The sports park is expected to open later this spring or in early summer on Ohio 741, east of I-71, north of the proposed resort.

“The combination of recreational vehicle sites, cabins, yurts, and the other resort amenities could be an excellent addition to the lodging choices already here in Warren County,” Smith said earlier this month.

In addition to the lodgings and RV sites, Haglage and partnersSmall Brothers Developmentare proposing on-site lodges, a theater, gift shops, convenience stores, an event center, game courts and swimming pools.

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Other questions at the hearing involved plans to extend Kings Island Drive through the property.

A traffic study is required before final approval.

Mason resident David Milenden urged Haglage and his team and local government officials to consider traffic and environmental impacts from the continued development in Mason and Deerfield Twp.

“Everything’s exploding,” he said.

Haglage said they were considering shuttles to ease movement from the resort. He also pointed out swaths of green space were in the plan.

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The rezoning request goes next to the Deerfield Twp. Zoning Commission meeting at 6:30 p.m., Monday, April 8.

The township trustees could discuss it at an April 16 work session, set to begin at 5:30 p.m.

A decision on the rezoning could come as soon as the 6 p.m., May 7 trustee meeting.

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