By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer
LIBERTY TWP. - A public hearing will be held this month on five possible configurations of the proposed eastward interchange off the Michael A. Fox Highway at Interstate 75.
The Feb. 26 session from 5 to 7 p.m. at the township hall on Princeton Road will be the first of at least two hearings this year on the issue.
A second public meeting will be sometime in May, Township Administrator Nell Kilpatrick said Monday.
"Obviously, the township would be in favor of an interchange that would have the smallest footprint so it would leave more land available for commercial development," Kilpatrick said.
The proposed interchange would run east off the Fox Highway at I-75 to join an extended Cox Road, which would eventually be five lanes wide from where it stops at Hamilton-Mason Road to Ohio 63 in Monroe.
The project would link 655 acres of commercially zoned property to the interstate, bring an estimated 15,100 jobs and millions in tax revenues, Butler County and Liberty officials say.
They want the interchange built as soon as possible before more new homes blanket the rest of the township's open land. Between 1990 and 2000, Liberty's population shot up 147 percent and now stands at 25,000.
The proposed configurations include a free-flowing interchange without traffic lights.
Other proposals are: a single point interchange that uses a light to control traffic; a diamond-shaped interchange similar to Union Centre Boulevard in West Chester Township and a partial cloverleaf interchange.
The fifth option would be to build the interchange at I-75 and Hamilton-Mason Road instead of directly off the Fox Highway.
The Ohio Department of Transportation has final say over the interchange's design, Kilpatrick said.
In other business Monday, township officials agreed to hold off on plans for a proposed joint economic development district (JEDD) for at least two more months.
The township first needs to know how much secondary road improvements near the interchange would cost, Kilpatrick told trustees.
Butler County and Liberty leaders want to enter into JEDDs possibly with neighboring Hamilton and Mason because they need money for road improvements.
The upgrades will be necessary even if the proposed interchange doesn't go in, they say.
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