Thursday, July 19, 2001

Lebanon may curb multiunit dwellings

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — The city is considering a moratorium on multifamily construction while it looks into long-term solutions for the relative dearth of city residents who own their homes.

        Just 58.9 percent of residents here own their home, compared to 78.5 percent in Warren County overall, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.

        “We are way lopsided,” city planning commission Chairwoman Alexandra Reynolds said Wednesday. “The reason it matters is that when you own your own home, you invest in your community.”

        The commission voted 5-0 Tuesday to support a three-month moratorium, which would apply to duplexes as well as other multiunit dwellings. Also approved was a second, longer-term measure that would force anyone considering building apartments to seek the planning commission's OK.

        “It gives us and the city a chance to figure out where we want to go next,” Mrs. Reynolds said. “I'm in favor of stopping and looking around a little.”

        City Council likely will vote on the measures in August.

        A spokesman for the Greater Cincinnati Apartment Association, however, questioned whether the moratorium was part of an overall planning effort or merely an election-year ploy.

        “If they put their energy into getting their comprehensive plan done, maybe they wouldn't need a moratorium,” said Charles Tassell, the association's government affairs director.

        Mr. Tassell said he had never heard of another Tristate community temporarily halting all multifamily construction.

        Lebanon's moratorium movement comes as multifamily construction here has slowed and single-family has picked up.

        The city has given out 37.8 percent more single-family building permits in the first six months of 2001 than in the same period last year.

        The trend is the reverse for multifamily housing: Lebanon averaged 89 new multifamily units a year in the 1990s but has issued permits for just six units in the first six months of 2001.

        That may be because the city has only about 100 acres of multifamily-zoned land that hasn't been developed.


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