By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer
HARRISON TWP. - This western Hamilton County township has become only the second in the county to adopt special zoning controls to help shape the future of a high-growth area near Interstate 74.
The "special public interest overlay zone" is at I-74 and Dry Fork Road.
The zone enables townships to require specific kinds of siding, roofs and landscaping when new stores and businesses are built there. It also enables officials to control the number and location of entrances to businesses.
"We want to prevent the proliferation of uncontrolled development," township Administrator William Ennis said.
Columbia Township was the first to use the overlay zone about six years ago. The township is beginning to see a payoff along Wooster Pike, east of Mariemont, Columbia Township Administrator C. Michael Lemon said.
The development there is more appealing than the gas stations and vacant properties that used to dot the road. Landscaping and sidewalks are just a few of the new requirements.
"We've been impressed with the quality of structures going up," said Sam Baker, president of Haversham & Baker, a travel agency on Wooster Pike. "And all of this new construction appears to be accompanied by attractive landscaping."
The overlay zone can only be used in targeted areas where officials expect a lot of development or redevelopment, according to Todd Kinskey, a senior county planner. Springfield Township is considering seeking one for Winton Road, Kinskey said.
Harrison Township property owners have mostly been supportive of the new zone.
"We really believe (development) is going to take off and want to make sure it's done in the right way," said Joe Kramer, executive vice president of Henkle Schueler Realtors.
The Lebanon company has 160 acres in the overlay zone that it's developing into the Harrison Commerce Center. It is expected to include a Carespring nursing home, offices and light industry.
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