Tuesday, February 09, 1999

Warren puts brakes on growth

'We're going to break the schools'

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Warren County commissioners plan to pull out of a utility project in Hamilton Township to slow the construction of homes and the future burden on schools.

        “We're creating too many homes in this place,” county Commissioner C. Michael Kilburn said. “We're going to break the schools.”

        Commissioners' worries come as Little Miami school administrators are considering the use of a VFW hall, churches and retail space for classrooms next year because of a possible surge in enrollment caused by rapid development.

        There are 27 subdivisions that have been approved for development in the Little Miami district — or 5,892 new homes.

        River's Bend off Montgomery Road in Hamilton Township needs sewer lines to connect its 476 acres to the Lower Little Miami Sewer Plant. Hines/Griffin land developers of Sycamore Townshipare approved to build 1,267 units and a golf course at River's Bend. But to reach the sewer plant, the lines would have to stretch across an adja cent 400 acres that are on the market.

        Commissioners agreed to pay $300,000 to upgrade its temporary sewer pump station for the Hines property. But county officials want developers to pay for the remaining connection to the sewer plant instead of doing it themselves and being reimbursed.

        That way, they hope, the county can buy some time before the adjacent property is developed.

        Mr. Kilburn and board of commissioners President Larry Crisenbery plan to meet with superintendents from Kings and Little Miami school districts today to warn them about the population wave headed their way.

        “We have worked closely with various school districts, trying to keep some type of control mechanism on how fast development comes,” Commissioner Pat South said. “But a major portion of the growth is beyond our control.”

        To help compensate school districts, Hamilton Township requests a $250 fee from developers of planned unit developments to contribute to the schools they will impact, said Gary Boeres, the township's planning and zoning officer.

        About 410 single-family homes were built last year in the township, up from 209 in 1997. The township expects to have another 500 in 1999, Mr. Boeres said.

        Jack Kilburn of Harlan Township understands more housing means more kids.

        “When you've got a community this small and you've got a lot of subdivisions, that increases the number of kids quick,” he said.

        But Mr. Kilburn, whose daughter is a fifth-grader at Little Miami's Butlerville Elementary, said the district already is combating crowding. There are about 34 students in his daughter's class, he said.

        If his daughter is one of the children who would have to have classes in a church, retail space or VFW hall, “I'd just have to evaluate it after it took place,” he said.


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