Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Butler trustees postpone rezoning for new complex



By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FAIRFIELD TWP. - Traffic concerns prompted township trustees late Tuesday to delay rezoning 66 acres for a potential $70 million entertainment complex at Ohio Bypass 4 and Princeton Road.

They said they wanted to see how much traffic the development would generate. They also are waiting for developers to resolve the layout of access points into the complex with the Butler County Engineer's Office.

"This is an important piece of property to everybody in this room," Trustee Joe McAbee said following an hourlong public hearing. "We want to make sure we have all the possible information when we decide."

The Pavilion at Princeton Road would be located on the southeast corner of the busy intersection. Plans call for more than 550,000 square feet of retail space and an 80,000 square-foot, 12-screen cinema.

No tenants have been signed, but the center could open as early as fall 2004, said Michael Tavel, a developer with Premier Properties USA Inc. of Indianapolis.

The development is expected to dramatically increase traffic in the area, which saw a more than 500 percent boost in vehicles when a Wal-Mart and Home Depot opened.

With the 2002 opening of Wal-Mart, and the preceding Home Depot debut, traffic increased from 150 cars a day to 817.

Premier officials assured trustees Tuesday they would submit a traffic study to county engineers soon. They also pledged to build an upscale development with a neighborhood-type environment including tall trees and a large, landscaped buffer and six-foot high wooden fence along the eastern line of the property near an elementary school and a YMCA.

But some residents who spoke Tuesday against the proposed development say traffic already is bad along two-lane Princeton Road at nearby Morris Road. They contend it will only worsen if the project emerges.

It is not yet known where the main entrance into the complex with a traffic light would go, off Bypass 4 or Princeton Road. Two additional entrances are proposed.

While Premier officials say they would prefer the main, lighted entrance to be off Bypass 4, at least one resident who spoke Tuesday said it should go off Princeton across from the Lakewood subdivision.

"This is going to be awful," Archie Adams, 41, told trustees. "All the traffic is not going to come from the Bypass. If anyone believes that, the moon is going to fall from the sky."

Other residents present Tuesday were supportive, saying the fast-growing township could use the tax revenue and businesses.

"Why should we have to go to Hamilton County to shop when we can put our money right back into our community?" said Katie Downie, who has lived in the township 50 years.

Butler County and the township's zoning boards have recommended rezoning. The trustees meet next on Aug. 26.

E-mail jedwards@enquirer.com.




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