Thursday, October 7, 2004

Deerfield Twp. looks for cash to clean up lead



By Erica Solvig
Enquirer staff writer

DEERFIELD TWP. - Trustees are considering a financing agreement that would help developers pay to clean up lead at the site of a future subdivision, and that could also help Kings Schools build a new stadium.

Township staff is researching the legal and financial issues involved so trustees can debate the idea at an Oct. 22 work session. A Petro Environmental LLC official was supposed to present some of that information to trustees at Tuesday night's meeting, but he didn't show up.

Petro is part of a development team that's looking to build 40 homes averaging $550,000 in value on a 20-acre horse farm off King Avenue. Lead was discovered on the site in April, believed to be debris from the same shooting range that resulted in a $2 million cleanup of the nearby Kings Schools' football stadium and surrounding property.

More bad news came for developers in late July: Studies show there's more lead-impacted soil than initially announced, so it's going to cost more to clean it up.

"The estimated cost associated with the remediation has escalated and the project as a whole is not economically feasible," Petro's Peter Mather wrote in a letter to the township.

To move forward with building the proposed Kings Meadow subdivision, developers want the township to create what Deerfield calls a "residential improvement district." It would work much like a tax increment financing district, except that the anticipated increased tax revenue would come from residential property instead of commercial property. Tax payments would go into a special fund, instead of the general fund, so the money could be used for specific purposes.

Specific numbers have not been made final. Kings Schools officials have been part of the early talks with the township and developers because they hope some of those payments would be set aside to help build their new stadium.

The estimated $4.1 million stadium is expected to be built by next fall to replace the George E. King Stadium the school district lost in the lead cleanup.

"We're hopeful that something will work out for everyone," Kings Treasurer Mike Mowery said.

This is the first time this Warren County township has considered such a taxing district. In neighboring Butler County, Commissioner Mike Fox brought up the idea on a county level earlier this year, which prompted West Chester and Liberty townships to consider adopting them locally.

Deerfield trustees said Tuesday night that they needed more information, but were open to more discussions.

"It is in the best interest of the township to at least explore it," Trustee Barbara Wilkens Reed said.

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E-mail esolvig@enquirer.com




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