Sunday, January 28, 2001

Bond issue could help buy greenspace

Anderson Twp. land grows scarce, costly

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ANDERSON TOWNSHIP — The township's greenspace committee is considering a bond issue to fund its land-purchase program.

        But an official of the group said he isn't comfortable moving forward with a bond issue as long as the committee still has $1.5 million in its bank account.

        Members of the committee want the bond issue because open land is becoming more scarce — and expensive.

        For example, land in Anderson Township now averages $45,000 to $50,000 an acre. That's too costly for the greenspace program, which has paid an average of about $7,500 an acre over the past decade.

        “We are researching what it would cost for a bond issue,” said Fred Kiel, secretary of the committee. “We are probably missing out on (what) land developers can get and we can't because of the expense.”

        Mr. Kiel cited several parcels on Lower Salem Road, near the Apple Hill Development, that sell for $140,000 an acre.

        Although the committee has $1.5 million left in its coffers, generated by a levy passed in 1991, township trustees decided not to renew the levy last year because of the excessive funds.

        “I don't think we can rightfully ask residents to support a bond issue until we have spent that money,” Mr. Kiel said.

        He said that the advantage of a bond issue is that it could be spread over 20 or 30 years and the township would get the money up front when it sells the bonds to use in the program.

        With the cost of land escalating, the $1.5 million will not go far, said Trustee Russ Jackson, liaison to the Greenspace Advisory Committee.

        “If you look at average prices of $45,000 to $50,000 an acre, that $1.5 million will only get us about 30 acres,” Mr. Jackson said. “A new approach will be necessary. We are probably going to have to spend a great deal more per acre to become more competitive with developers.”

        Since the township passed the levy in 1991, it has spent $3 million to preserve 500 acres that might have been developed. The land varies in size from less than an acre to a 50-acre plot, including Indian trails, mature trees and vegetation.

        Some greenspace property has been acquired as tax-deductible donations.

        The township greenspace program was the first of its kind in the state and has served as a model for other communities.

        “I don't see a problem with a bond issue for the program,” said Bill Banchy, a resident of Tallberry Drive. “The program is something we like and the cost would probably be about the same as the tax levy.”


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