Sewer service key to development east of I-75

Butler County serves growth area in Warren County.

Who pays for sewer service and when it will be available likely will dominate debates over development of some of the last large undeveloped tracts between Dayton and Cincinnati, including land in Turtlecreek Twp., east of Interstate 75.

It was a key issue this week as developer Jeff Wieland appealed to the Warren County commissioners for a waiver permitting him to build about 420 homes on the eastern half of 323 acres of land where the Greentree Golf Course now operates.

Wieland said he needed the waiver from zoning rules because of a lack of existing sewer service and because of his inability to pay for its extension to the western half of the golf course property.

Butler County has a plan to sewer this land and hundreds of other acres around Union and Greentree roads, once developers are ready to fund extension of an existing sewer about a mile and a half away.

“The timeline for that sewer going in would be developer driven,” said Martha Shelby, engineering and construction manager for Butler County.

“He could wait for it or he could put it in,” Shelby said in a phone interview after the meeting.

Butler County is already providing sewer service in Warren County to the Miami Valley Gaming racino and housing developments along Greentree Road near Wieland’s proposed development, served by a gravity feed.

Wieland said he couldn’t afford to underwrite the multi-million-dollar sewer extension needed to enable development of the property with the mixture of residential and commercial uses required by the zoning. Instead, he wanted to go ahead with the subdivision while using the rest of the property for a personal home and range for his cattle herd.

After a more than three-hour hearing, the commissioners rejected Wieland's waiver request.

However, the commissioners suggested Wieland seek rezoning of the eastern half for the residential development.

This upset residents living near the development and supporters of county policy holding fast to the idea of requiring commercial, along with residential, development of the area.

It will be up to Butler County officials to decide if, how and when sewers are extended onto the land - owned by the Likes family - and to other parts of Turtlecreek Twp., east of Interstate 75, expected to be develop in coming decades.

While lift stations can be used to elevate sewer or water lines, Butler County relies on gravity and topography to dictate where its lines run, according to Shelby.

“We discourage lift stations. They are costly and they are not the most economical way to transport sewage,” she said.

Instead, Shelby said, extensions to the network come in response to demand for development of the land to be served.

This fit Commissioner Dave Young’s viewpoint at Tuesday’s meeting.

“My concern is the free market might be telling us something. We may be getting ahead of ourselves,” Young said.

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