Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Retail center plan on table

Proposal resubmitted

By Cindy Schroeder
Enquirer staff writer

CRESCENT SPRINGS - A plan for the $56 million Buttermilk Towne Center will go before area planners next month, after a Kenton County judge set aside Crescent Springs City Council's approval of the project.

The Kenton County Planning Commission will consider a stage I, or preliminary, development plan Sept. 2.

Montgomery developer Bear Creek Capital resubmitted the plan Thursday, a week after Kenton Circuit Judge Douglas Stephens ruled that council should have approved a plan through an ordinance, which would have required two separate votes. Instead, Crescent Springs City Council approved the plan with an order, which required only one vote.

The lawsuit was filed by the city of Fort Mitchell, Toebben Cos. and nine others.

Mike Schwartz, deputy director of current planning, said Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission staff will make a recommendation Aug. 27. Kenton County Planning Commission can recommend at its Sept. 2 meeting that Crescent Springs officials approve the plan, disapprove it or approve it with conditions.

Crescent Springs Mayor Claire Moriconi has said that the city plans to fix its legal mistake by passing an ordinance that requires two readings.

"I'm anticipating this would be brought up at our regular meeting in September,'' Moriconi said Friday. "Right now, I'm not planning to call a special meeting unless (the city attorney) suggests that we do.''

Council unanimously agreed Aug. 9 to appeal the judge's ruling. Council also voted 4-2 to issue up to $56 million in industrial revenue bonds for the project.

The developer is responsible for repaying the bonds, but they have tax-exempt status because they're issued through a public body.

The city also has asked Kenton County Planning Commission to amend the city's neighborhood concept plan, which gives a general description of the area where the project would be built and appropriate uses for it.

That request also will be considered on Sept. 2

Crescent Springs officials want the neighborhood concept plan to be changed to reflect the existing comprehensive plan designation and to identify that the uses should be office and retail on the western portion of the site.

If a development plan is submitted that eliminates the single-family homes along Beechwood and Anderson Roads, then the city has said the eastern portion of the site could be developed as retail and office.

Steve Kelly, Bear Creek Capital's director of development, said he expects closing will happen by the end of August.

Residents forced to move from Crest Mobile Home Park to make way for the Buttermilk Towne Center would receive their relocation checks when Bear Creek closes.

Kelly has said the project should be finished in time for a planned July 2005 opening.

The center is about 50 percent leased, with Rhodes Furniture and Remke's Market already signed, and the rest of the tenants expected to sign by the end of the year.


E-mail cschroeder@enquirer.com

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