Tuesday, March 13, 2001

Lebanon takes 2nd look at land buy




By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — An on-again, off-again plan to buy land for water wells may be on again.

        City Council — which two weeks ago refused to be pressured into a vote on a purchase contract — has the information it needs to make a decision at tonight's meeting, Councilman Mark Flick said Monday.

        The proposed contract for 130 acres at Bunnell Road and U.S. 42 in Turtlecreek Township expired Feb. 28, and the Mason businessmen who control the land said then that they would not wait for the city's decision.

        But it appears the land is still available, City Manager James Patrick said Monday. Council will consider buying it for $1.5 million, he said — as originally negotiated.

        The land is needed, Mr. Patrick has said, to decrease Lebanon's reliance on its current water supply. The site is atop the Shaker Creek Aquifer, a layer of sand and gravel that holds water beneath the ground.

        Pump tests — completed since council's Feb. 27 meeting — show the city could get 2 million to 3 million gallons a day from the site, officials said — nearly double the city's current capacity.

        “Short-term, this is a good solution, it appears to me,” Mr. Flick said. “Long-term, some other solution will have to be found.”

        Consulting firm Layne-Western found the aquifer's total capacity in the area to be about 10 million gallons a day, Mr. Flick said. Mason, the county and others already use much of that.

        Mason Vice Mayor Jim Fox said his city is willing to divvy up the water with other users, but warned Lebanon against putting too much faith in capacity estimates.

        “We had a consultant that said we could depend on the aquifer for 6 million gallons a day,” Mr. Fox said. “That just hasn't proved to be accurate.”

        The land's cost has caused almost as much controversy as the water availability. It was appraised at about $6,000 an acre — the same amount businessmen John Zopff and Jack Flaherty could buy it for under their option. The city would be charged almost twice that.

        In addition to using the land for aquifer access, Lebanon officials also are talking about selling some of it to industry and using it for a future southern bypass.

       



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