Plans to start construction of a 4,500-home development are on hold while the county and the project’s developer, Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices, work out who will pay for more than $50 million in road improvements around the development.
Existing traffic along Ohio 63 and Ohio 741 could triple or quadruple, depending on how soon Union Village’s residential sections are completed, according to a consultant’s traffic report finished last week.
“We could easily spend $45 million,” Warren County Engineer Neil Tunison said Wednesday, gesturing toward Ohio 63, one of two main roads leading to the proposed development and Otterbein’s existing retirement campus.
“There’s just no funding source right now to fund that kind of project,” he said.
Each mile in the stretch of Ohio 741 past Otterbein’s campus and the main entrance to Union Village could cost as much as $7 million in road improvements, Tunison said.
An agreement spelling out the terms of the Stage 2 approval would hold Otterbein responsible for road projects ODOT or the county’s transportation improvement district found were needed due to Union Village, according to Tunison.
During Tuesday’s Warren County commissioners meeting, Otterbein CEO Jill Hreben said it was unwilling to commit to anything beyond what is required by Ohio Department of Transportation standards.
Bruce McGary, the assistant county prosecutor, was directed to work up language ensuring Otterbein would pay its share.
Provided the projects didn’t delay the development, “Otterbein recognizes the need to step up to all expenses associated with the roads to meet ODOT defined requirements,” Gary Horning, Otterbein’s vice president for marketing and communications, said Wednesday via email.
“We’re going to have to do it in phases,” Tunison said. The section of Ohio 63 from the racino to Ohio 741 is to be the first to be improved.
The special districts, where commercial development and a sports complex are planned, were excluded from the areas up for the next stage of approval.
The sports complex has stalled over problems approving a 1 percent lodging tax hike to help pay for it and continued negotiations over sharing proceeds from two special taxing entities to be created to help offset the cost of the development and government services to it.
Tunison said he also hopes to include Otterbein in a task force to figure out how to keep travel on the two roads safe and relatively free of congestion, as Union Village and other developments add to the traffic flow.
The commissioners plan to continue the discussion of Union Village plan’s commitment to the road costs during its next meeting, March 8.
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