Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Center may get OK this week

Crescent Springs sets vote for Thursday

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

CRESCENT SPRINGS - A $56 million shopping center and office complex that would replace a mobile-home park could get the go-ahead from Crescent Springs City Council this week.

Council has called a special meeting for 7 p.m. Thursday to vote on a stage II, or final development plan, and a development agreement for Buttermilk Towne Center.

Crescent Springs Mayor Claire Moriconi said Tuesday that she expects council to give the go-ahead as long as certain conditions are met.

"We cannot veer from the agenda, and we will not be taking public comment," Moriconi said.

"The time for public comment was earlier. They had their public hearing before area planning in December."

Council delayed voting on the plan Monday after Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission staff recommended against approval last week.

Moriconi said lawyers for Crescent Springs and developer Bear Creek Capital of Montgomery, Ohio, did not finish negotiating a development agreement until just before Monday night's regularly scheduled council meeting.

Council also wanted the city engineer to review the development agreement.

Debbie Billiter, a 23-year resident of the 129-family Crest Mobile Home Park off Anderson Road, said that people who would be displaced by the project plan to rally in front of Crescent Springs City Hall Thursday night.

As the owner of an older mobile home that cannot be moved to another park, Billiter said she would get $1,500 to help offset her relocation costs.

The 50-year-old widow said she can't afford a new mobile home and a mortgage.

"They're literally going to leave me homeless," Billiter said. "I am so angry."

The relocation plan also offers up to $5,500 to move newer mobile homes to one of several Greater Cincinnati mobile home parks owned by SSK Co. Communities or Holiday Homes.

If residents want to buy a mobile home in one of those communities, Bear Creek Capital and property owner A&K Enterprises would pay up to $3,500 toward the purchase.

Moriconi said the proposal is a generous one.

"It's not up to the city to tell the developer and the owner of the mobile-home park how to spend their money," she said.

Greg Scheper of Bear Creek Capital said the relocation plan would cost the developer and A&K about $500,000.

"It's something that we feel needs to be done and the city feels needs to be done," Scheper said Tuesday. "We are under no obligation legally or contractually to do a relocation plan."

Although a representative of Bear Creek Capital told council the developer risked losing some tenants if approval was delayed Monday night, city officials said they needed more time.

"It's not that the project won't go forward," Scheper said Tuesday. "It's just that there's a competition for quality tenants among the various (retail) projects in Northern Kentucky."

Scheper and Moriconi declined to comment on a second suit filed May 7 by a Northern Kentucky developer who wants to stop the project.

Moriconi said she had not seen the suit, which was filed in Franklin Circuit Court by Matth Toebben, chairman of Toebben Cos. of Crescent Springs, and property owners John and Barbara Sherman.

The latest suit says Crescent Springs misrepresented the project as revitalizing a downtown business district when it sought state approval of $56 million in industrial revenue bonds.


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