Wednesday, August 13, 2003

I-75 Liberty Twp. exit seems likely

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - A proposed new exit off Interstate 75 and the Michael A. Fox Highway in Liberty Township will be built, the township's administrator confidently predicted Tuesday before more than 200 business leaders.

Barry Tiffany said state and federal officials who have final say have not raised any major objections. He spoke at the monthly Southeastern Butler County Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Wetherington Golf and Country Club.

"We really foresee that happening," Tiffany said. "... If an issue was going to happen, they would have told us a while back, 'Don't waste your time.'"

The soonest construction would begin would be in three years, Tiffany said. Stakeholders, including local government leaders, business leaders and property owners, soon will pick an interchange configuration and send it to state and federal officials for approval.

With a housing boom that doesn't show any signs of letting up, Liberty leaders say the interchange will spur business growth.

From 1990 to 2000, Liberty's population shot up 147 percent and now stands at 26,000, up from 25,000 last year.

By year's end, the township expects more than 800 new homes, the highest number in the county.

But as neighboring areas such as West Chester undergo a business boom, Liberty still has few businesses.

Liberty Township Trustee President Christine Matacic told chamber members Tuesday she hopes the residential growth tapers off soon. Businesses, she said, would come once Liberty sets up its network of roads, including the interchange and an extension of Cox Road from Hamilton-Mason Road to Ohio 63 in Monroe.

West Chester leaders also gave an update on their community at Tuesday's luncheon.

Trustee Catherine Stoker noted that in the past decade, West Chester has seen more than $100 billion in business construction and $100 million in retail and restaurant construction.

She announced that Media Heritage Inc., a collection of Midwestern radio and television history, would join the Voice of America Museum in September. Media Heritage, a nonprofit corporation, collects, preserves and restores radio and television broadcasts, photographs and other items for learning.

West Chester and Liberty leaders stressed that efforts are under way to preserve green space and said that will continue to be a priority.

In West Chester, voters face a 1.95-mill park levy at the fall ballot.

A community recreation center will be built with tax increment financing, not levy money, Trustee Dave Tacosik said.

And in Liberty, two housing developers have said they would donate land for parks, Matacic said.


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