Warren County delays charge for assisted living apartments

Tap-in fees delayed while possible reduction options studied.

The Warren County Board of Commissioners agreed to hold off on collecting $1.2 million in tap-in fees from the developer of a $26 million, 160-unit apartment complex that will cater to senior citizens.

Developer Bruce Rippe will not have to pay any tap-in fees while the county considers a reduced rate for Hopkins Commons, a complex proposed on Ohio 48 north of Maineville.

The commissioners declined Rippe’s request for the nursing-home rate for tap-in fees — which would have basically cut the fee in half — but agreed to hold off on collection while studying how the project, billed by Rippe as unique in Ohio, fits into the county’s tap-in fee structure.

“It puts a huge stake in the ground for the state of Ohio,” Rippe said during the discussion.”There’s not another one of these in the the state.”

Hopkins Commons is billed as the center of an intergenerational community fueled by connectivity and mixing between residents of an adjoining residential subdivision, nursing facility, the Hamilton Twp. government center and fire station, nearby downtown Maineville and visitors to a restaurant and conference center to be built into the apartment complex.

Hopkins Commons is expected to receive more than $9 million in state assistance, as a project expected to help seniors otherwise forced to spend down their assets on nursing care.

In exchange, Rippe has agreed to set aside 33 units as subsidized housing for low-to-moderate-income seniors.

Warren County Community Services, a nonprofit catering to seniors, is to invest $2 million in the restaurant, convention center and a senior center to be included in the three-story, three-building complex.

Sinclair Community College is also studying a collaboration at the restaurant-convention center.

While not a nursing home, assisted living services would be available. Rippe’s company would contract with a private health care agency to provide nursing and other services there.

Rippe said the project featured high-efficiency fixtures reducing water and sewer usage also lower than in a typical development because the residents would bathe less frequently.

But Chris Brausch, the county’s sanitary engineer, cautioned the commissioners that reducing Rippe’s rate would “open the door” to other developers seeking cuts in their tap-in fees.

“We’ve had similar arguments in the past,” Brausch said. “I don’t think we need to change.”

Rippe said the tap-in fees were discouraging developers from building multi-family housing where lower wage workers could live while working in Warren County.

“We don’t necessarily like multifamily housing,” Commissioner Dave Young responded.

However, the commissioners directed Brausch to look at alternatives and evaluate the overall rate system, as well as permit Rippe to go ahead with construction.

“That is a legitimate question we can entertain,” Young said.

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