Thursday, November 30, 2000

Lebanon may buy more land

130-acre site would be designated for industry

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — This cash-strapped city is considering buying land that could double the space it has available for industry.

        Legislation introduced Tuesday would formalize City Council's interest in buying 130 acres on Bunnel Road. The land, just outside Lebanon, is just one parcel away from city-owned Columbia Business Park.

        The city started marketing the 138 acres it owns in Columbia in early 2000, and it has struck deals with three companies that will use about 17 acres. It's impossible to say how long it'll take to finish the business park, officials said.

        Still, council members are excited about the prospect of doubling the industrial land at the right price.

        “We've got some, but you need to get it while it's available,” Councilman Ron Pandorf said — even if it means borrowing money.

        Two Mason businessmen have offered the Bunnel Road site — west of the city, between Ohio 741 and U.S. 42 in Union Township — to the city for about $1.5 million, or $12,000 an acre, City Manager James Patrick said.

        Lebanon is selling the Columbia land at $30,000 an acre — about twice what it cost to buy, city planner Doug Johnson said. The city will break even or perhaps show a small profit by the time it builds water and sewer lines, roads and other infrastructure, he said.

        “The real dividend for us is those jobs” and the accompanying earnings tax, Mr. Johnson said.

        Also Tuesday, council had a first reading on an ordinance to raise the rates for its city-owned cable system. Basic would rise from $5.99 to $6.99, deluxe would go from $20.98 to $23.98, digital basic would go from $23.98 to $27.98 and digital deluxe would increase from $29.98 to $34.98.

        Council members seem resigned to the increase, which officials say is forced by fast-rising charges for channels such as ESPN and Disney. In contrast to residents' objections to a 20 percent jump in electric rates earlier this year, citizen response thus far has been muted.

        “This is a choice,” Councilwoman Jane Davenport pointed out. “You can take it or leave it.”

        In other action at Tuesday's meeting, council:

        • Tabled proposals for bonuses of $2,500 to $10,000 for its top three employees. That legislation will now die.

        • Had the first reading on an ordinance to establish guidelines for the design of buildings in Columbia Business Park.


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