Sunday, January 10, 1999

Western group fights growth plan

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIAMITOWN — More than 100 residents met Saturday to plot their next moves against plans for bringing development to western Hamilton County.

        They say they will turn out in force at a Jan. 26 public hearing on the Western Hamilton County Collaborative Plan.

        The plan calls for improved roads, water and sewer service to promote growth in the city of Harrison, the villages of Addyston, Cleves and North Bend, and the townships of Colerain, Crosby, Green, Harrison, Miami and Whitewater.

        Hamilton County officials hope the plan will halt the decline in county population, which fell by 14,629 residents — or 1.7 percent — between 1990 and 1997, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

        Commissioner John Dowlin, chair of the collaborative plan steering committee, wants residents leaving Cincinnati to resettle in the western communities rather than in Butler, Warren or Clermont counties.

        But members of Concerned Citizens of Western Hamilton County say they don't want the traffic and strip malls, fast-food restaurants and subdivisions that such development could bring. They prefer

        wooded hills and farmland, hunting ground and secluded streams.

        “I see this as a battle between those who want to maximize development and those who want to preserve our rural way of life,” said attorney Tim Mara, who is advising members. “This is more than just a hypothetical thing or something that may happen in 20 years. ... Work is already being done.”

        Water lines will be installed this spring along Harrison Road, from Ohio 128 almost to Buena Vista Drive, with sewer lines to follow. New sewage treatment facilities are planned. County officials have also proposed adding New Haven and Blue Rock roads to the state highway system.

        “Adoption of this high-growth scenario, I think it's a scam. I think it's being shoved down our throats. And we don't want it,” said Whitewater Township resident Guy Fortner.

        The plan, which may be approved by the committee next month, calls for growth around existing communities, improved roads and utilities and a new Ohio River bridge between the region and northern Kentucky.

        Although it is advisory rather than regulatory, the plan is likely to affect zoning decisions for the next 20 or 30 years.

        Colerain Township Trustee Joe Wolterman, the only steering committee member at the rally at Miamitown Elementary School, said the plan will protect the region from rampant growth and future congestion.

        “I'm your next-door neighbor. I do not have any nefarious plan to overturn the rural character of western Hamilton County,” he told the group, promising to hear their complaints. “But there is a difference between listening and agreeing.”

        “Your interest may be personal and it may not be the best for the whole (region),” he said. “.. We may have to agree to disagree.”


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