A new road would loop around Red Lion in a long-range plan being developed in Warren County.
So far, this is biggest idea to emerge from work on the plan for Hunter and Red Lion, two old towns along Ohio 122 feeling growing pains.
Hunter, west of Red Lion on Ohio 122, is experiencing the effects of growth coming east from Middletown and Interstate 75 and all around it in Warren County.
The $8.2 million relocation of the five-points intersection, south of Springboro in the middle of Red Lion, sets the stage for the commercial or residential development of more than 600 acres along Ohio 123, Ohio 741 and Ohio 122.
The proposed loop road, encircling the crossroads community, is on Clearcreek Twp.’s long-range plan, but is not part of the county’s thoroughfare plan. It would cross 122, east and west of town, 741 on the north and south sides and 123, as it headed northwest toward I-75 and south toward Lebanon.
“That would certainly open up land for development,” Warren County Engineer Neil Tunison said, adding the loop was among alternatives considered before the intersection project was completed.
Tunison said there was no money or plan currently calling for it to be built.
While the road may never be built, the planning process is expected to result in a common vision for what the communities should look like over the next 20 years or so.
“It will certainly have an impact on how the area grows in the future. It’s important for residents to participate,” said Stan Williams, executive director of the Warren County Regional Planning Commission, the group heading up the planning process.
Not everyone is excited by growth in the area.
“I’m OK with it the way it is. I’d hate to see it grow up,” said Gene Lamb, a resident of Red Lion for 30 years and the owner of the Red Lion Barber Shop.
“It’d be good for business,” Lamb added. “You go five miles in any direction, you hit a major megacenter. I think it’s grown up enough.”
A committee of elected, business and community leaders have been meeting since August to begin mapping the area’s future.
So far, the group has established that both towns want to build and retain on existing identities.
“We’d like to build an identity for Red Lion the way Hunter has an identity,” said Paul Pomeroy, who on the edge of Red Lion.
Hunter wants rezoning to allow for development of smaller homes sought by older residents looking to downsize. “Right now, the older residents have been moving out,” Williams said.
Red Lion’s growth in large part will be on nearly 650 acres owned by the Stolle family, among the largest land holders in Warren County. RG Properties is marketing land near where Ohio 123 now turns south, east of town.
“As residents, we want to try and maintain the rural living environment,” Pomeroy said.
Although they share Ohio 122 access, Red Lion is in Clearcreek Twp., generally associated with Springboro.
Hunter is in Franklin Twp. and near Franklin.
The commission enlarged the project area, originally limited to Red Lion area, to include Hunter, this year.
All meetings on the plan are public, but residents and businesses are encouraged to offer opinions at a session beginning at 6 p.m. Oct. 19 at Bishop Fenwick High School in Hunter.