Thursday, February 26, 2004

Loveland zoning leads Hamilton County issues

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Nearly two years after Loveland City Council changed the zoning code to allow a commercial project at the historic White Pillars site, the issue comes to the polls next week.

In a battle that polarized factions in the community, residents will decide Tuesday whether land of at least 5 acres can be rezoned for business even if it is in a residential area.

ELECTION SECTION Special Election Coverage
The issue is among five non-school matters on Hamilton County ballots.

City officials say the zoning amendment targets growth areas in Warren and Clermont counties and is needed to help lure more businesses to the community.

Opponents, however, call the measure "spot zoning" and sees it as a threat to established neighborhoods.

"City officials have run a campaign of confusion to try to trick voters into voting for their spot zoning plan. They know people want to protect their neighborhoods, so the city is telling people that a 'yes' vote will do that," said David Miller of Voice of the Electorate, which sued the city to put the issue on the ballot. "A 'yes' vote lets commercial development into residential zones wherever city officials want to put it."

But city officials say Loveland's master plan will protect against that.

In other communities:

• Evendale residents will decide whether to amend the village charter to allow a nonprofit organization, the Gorman Heritage Farm Foundation, to run the 100-acre historic farm without going through competitive bidding.

Evendale acquired the farm last December from the Cincinnati Nature Center.

• In Springdale and Fairfax, residents will decide whether to raise earnings-tax rates by a half-percentage point.

Fairfax is trying a second time to pass an increase to 1.75 percent. The issue failed in November by one vote. The increase is needed to make up a $250,000 loss in revenue since 2000.

Approval in Springdale would raise the city's income tax to 1.5 percent. City officials said they need more money to help close a $2.3 million revenue shortfall.

• Voters all over the county will be asked to approve a 0.2-mill, five-year levy for the Cincinnati Museum Center to help pay for upkeep of Union Terminal. It would raise $3.6 million a year toward the estimated $20 million in needed repairs and improvements, leaders say, and help with the building's $2.6 million annual maintenance bill.

The levy would cost $5.89 a year for the owner of a $100,000 house.

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