Wednesday, February 28, 2001

Lebanon opts out of land for wells

City needs water,but not this deal

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — The city will not be pressured into spending $1.5 million to buy land for wells, City Council decided unanimously Tuesday night.

        “Can't do it,” Councilman Ron Pandorf said after the meeting. “We don't have enough data. We're not going to buy a pig in a poke.”

        The city has not finished testing the water potential on the land — 130 acres at Bunnell Road and U.S. 42. But the Mason businessmen who control the land told the city they would not extend today's deadline on the proposed purchase contract.

        The owners could not be reached for comment after Tuesday night's vote.

        Lebanon officials say initial tests show they could pump 1 million to 2 million gallons of water per day from the aquifer — a layer of sand and gravel that holds water beneath the ground. That's less than they'd hoped, but it would still increase Lebanon's capacity by a third, they say.

        The site is in the Shaker Creek Aquifer, which stretches across the middle of Warren County. Neighboring Turtlecreek Township and Mason also draw water from it, and they are concerned about Lebanon's plans. The aquifer's water level in the area between Lebanon and Mason has dropped rapidly in recent years, prompting Mason to take less from the aquifer and to buy more water from Cincinnati.

        But wells at Bunnell Road would not draw from the same part of the aquifer as Mason, the tests show, Lebanon City Manager James Patrick said.

        Some Lebanon residents object to the deal because the Mason businessmen — Jack Flaherty and John Zopff — are almost doubling their money on the deal. They have options to buy the land for about $800,000.

        In addition to hanging its future water hopes on the land, city officials also have discussed selling some of the land to industry and using it for a possible southern bypass.

        Council plans to vote on the issue March 13 if members receive the information they need.


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