Sunday, March 11, 2001

Road plan upsets some residents

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — For 30 years, Bill Reber's auto body and glass shop has been a fixture on Mason-Montgomery Road.

        But a proposed plan to widen the road from two to four lanes is threatening to wipe out his popular downtown business. Mr. Reber is one of two businessmen and more than a dozen homeowners who are angry about losing property as a result of the project, set to begin in May.

        City officials are planning to spend more than $3.9 million to widen Mason-Montgomery Road from Tylersville Road to Main Street. The road improvement also will include installation of water and sewer lines, traffic signals and street lights.

        “The plans the city has for this project show my business being completely gone from Mason-Montgomery Road,” Mr. Reber said. “The city has basically said I'm going to have to relocate.”

        City Manager Scot Lahrmer said the project will require taking some land from property owners along Mason-Montgomery Road, but the city is prepared to pay fair market value. The city has had a private firm appraise each of the properties affected, he said.

        “It's never an easy situation when you have to tell someone you need to take their land for a city project,” Mr. Lahrmer said. “We do compensate property owners for the loss. What I hope these residents understand is that we have to look out for the best interest of the entire city, not just an individual property owner.”

        City leaders said the widening is needed to facilitate current and future traffic flow along Mason-Montgomery Road — particularly with the new high school, recrea tion center and city hall set to come in the next two years. Mr. Lahrmer said traffic bottlenecks already occur with regularity along this portion of the road.

        John Harris, president of the Mason-Landen-Kings Chamber of Commerce and manager of the Lexington Square Apartments, said he can understand the need for expanding the road, but city leaders need to understand the project's effect on property owners.

        The 13-unit Lexington Square apartment complex has been a mainstay on Mason-Montgomery Road for 33 years. It, too, will be a casualty of the road-widening project, Mr. Harris said.

        City leaders want to purchase and demolish one of the two buildings that comprise the complex. Mr. Harris said the loss of the western-most building, which contains six townhouses, would cut owner James Dapp's profits in half.

        “For residences, the city only has to consider market value and replacement value when they are taking about taking land,” Mr. Harris said. “But for businesses, you have to consider profit- loss value. In our case, Mr. Dapp has no way of offsetting the loss of half his business.”

        Longtime resident Linda Favaron may not be losing any profits, but the loss of nearly all of her front yard was enough to get her upset. The 20-year resident said the widened road will be less than 20 feet from her front porch.

        “When I first saw what the city had planned, I was devastated,” Mrs. Favaron said. “They were going to be destroying literally half my yard.” Mrs. Favaron said she and several homeowners from the Laurelwood subdivision will meet with council on Monday at 6 p.m. in City Hall to discuss ways to lessen the impact on residents.


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