Sunday, March 18, 2001

Shifts to east, north noted

Hamilton County loses 2.4 percent of residents

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        To get a clear view of Greater Cincinnati's future population, you have to turn to the north or to the east.

        That is where thousands of former Hamilton County residents have moved in the past decade, according to U.S. Census population figures released Friday and other recent studies.

        The county lost nearly 21,000 of its residents — or 2.4 percent — from 1990 to 2000.

  • White flight tipping balance
  - Shifts to east, north noted
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        During the same time, counties north of Hamilton (Warren and Butler) and to the east (Clermont) showed population jumps, ranging from 14.2 percent in Butler to 18.5 percent for Clermont and 39 percent for Warren.

        Though the 2000 Census figures do not directly track population migration, they bolster recent studies that do.

Tax exiles
        An Ohio State University study shows more people left Hamilton County from 1986 to 1997 than any other county in Ohio except Cuyahoga County. And Warren and Butler counties had the largest influx of newcomers.

        A 1999 Internal Revenue Service study assigned Hamilton County's biggest population losses to Warren, Clermont and Butler counties.

        Some of Hamilton County's ex-residents say they left for a variety of reasons: concerns about school quality, traffic, deteriorating neighborhoods and crime. Others simply wanted a bigger house, a more expansive yard, or a more rural landscape.

[photo] Mark and Karen Yurick were lured north from Anderson Township in Hamilton County to Warren County by “more room and a bigger home for comparable money.”
(Brandi Stafford photo)
| ZOOM |
        Still others say they are tax-exiles, fleeing to township communities to avoid Hamilton County and Cincinnati city income taxes.

        Bob Rahtz and his wife moved in 1993 from Forest Park in northern Hamilton County to rapidly growing West Chester Township in southeast Butler County. Mr. Rahtz used to work in Cincinnati, so when he moved and took a job in Deerfield Township in Warren County, the cut in income taxes from his workplace and home totaled 2.6 percent of his household's annual income.

Better services
        On top of the taxes was a growing frustration with his Hamilton County community, he said.

        “We weren't getting the services in Forest Park we get now in West Chester,” said Mr. Rahtz, an insurance consultant. “The roads here are better maintained, and there is more shopping around here.”

        Mark Yurick, lawyer, was lured north from Anderson Township in Hamilton County to his current Warren County home by “more room and a bigger home for comparable money.”

        Warren County's still largely rural landscape also appeals, he said; Anderson Township was growing too fast, and Beechmont Avenue was a gridlock nightmare.

        “The land is just beautiful out here, and it is not as developed,” he said.

        Dawand Long grew up in Forest Park, but in 1999 she and her family moved north to West Chester Township, joining a growing number of African-Americans moving to Butler County's fastest-growing, and Ohio's second-largest, township.

        She said she wanted her four children to attend West Chester's Lakota Schools, which are noted for academic achievement.

Minority movement
        Minority families in general have built West Chester's nonwhite population to more than 12.6 percent of the total.

        Robert Craig, director of planning for Warren County, said there is no mystery behind his county's growth,just two good interstates — I-75 and I-71 — convenience to Cincinnati and Dayton, and its “rural character.”

        Mr. Craig is a former resident of Hamilton County's Deer Park.

        On the other hand, Hamilton County cities and village officials offer differing opinions on their communities' losses or slowed residential growth.

        Golf Manor Mayor Dennis Puthoff questions the accuracy of the 2000 census numbers for his community of 3,999.

        He said the drop in residents — down 3.7 percent, or 155 people — is due to generational migration, not community dissatisfaction.

        “We don't have any open housing or apartments that are empty,” he said. “Kids grow up and get married and move out.”

       Enquirer reporters Ken Alltucker and John Byczkowski contributed to this article.


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