Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Loveland to sell White Pillars


Developers expected to pay $3.4M

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LOVELAND - City Council is expected to approve today a purchase agreement with Hines-Griffin Joint Venture and Parrott & Strawser, a development team that wants to buy the historic White Pillars property for $3.4 million.

Their plans entail building 85 single-family houses valued at $450,000 each, 70 town houses worth $225,000 each and a 16-acre commercial development on the property along Ohio 48. The developments could generate $284,700 in tax revenues for the city.

Council members were expected to approve the contract, despite continued protests from a large group of Loveland and Miami Township residents who have formed Voice of the Electorate (VOTE).

Member David Miller of Loveland has taken court action against the city, demanding that administrators accept referendum petitions opposing a zoning amendment that would allow the commercial development in a residential area. A decision in Clermont County Common Pleas Court is pending.

Meanwhile, the purchase agreement would establish that the city would use $2.3 million of the developers' money to retire debt from Loveland's 1996 purchase of the property. The city failed to attract businesses to the area, which was the original intent.

The contract also would establish that Loveland would retain ownership of the colonial-style homestead and 10 surrounding acres. A committee would be formed to delve into possible uses.

For neighboring Grailville, a 300-acre education center that relies on organic farming, a clause establishes that developers would either divert runoff or finance an off-site storm-water treatment facility so that the center doesn't risk losing certification as an organic produce provider.

But VOTE members remain worried about what will happen in three years, if developers prove to council members that they've done their best to "secure appropriate commercial development" and still fail.

According to the contract, developers then "shall have the right to utilize all or part of the acreage designated for commercial land use ... for any appropriate land use allowable."

That's what VOTE has feared all along, Mr. Miller said.

E-mail svela@enquirer.com



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