The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

Neighbors, Opponents of Sports Park Turn to Lawyer ?

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April 2017

TURTLECREEK TWP., WARREN COUNTY, OH — Neighbors of the proposed Warren County Sports Park at Union Village have turned to a lawyer for help in appealing for alterations to the plan locating part of the 109-acre complex across from their homes.

On Tuesday, Warren County commissioners are expected to decide on the land-use plan for development of the $15 million park, off Greentree Road and Ohio 741, west of Lebanon.

Last week, lawyer Andy George delivered a letter advising the commissioners that he was representing 10 residents of New England Way, a residential street across Greentree Road.

The letter lists concerns ranging from property value losses to noise and light pollution to traffic and safety concerns during large sports tournaments to be played on fields in the park.

“We hope that all of these concerns will be addressed before the commissioners make any decision that would have such a dramatic effect on their homes and lives,” George said.

This is the latest obstacle to the project, which has been opposed by local tea party leaders and hinges on approval of a series of agreements between the developer and local governments.

The commissioners are facing deadlines for approval of the plan, which has been developed through a series of meetings and agreements, reached since the overall plan for Union Village was approved in October 2014.

On April 22, the Turtlecreek Twp. Board of Trustees is expected to approve tax abatements and creation of a community authority that will help a company set up by Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices offset the costs of development of the 1,200-acre, 4,500-home community.

Union Village, built on land around Otterbein’s existing retirement community and headquarters, is expected to be developed in coming decades and include commercial development, as well as the sports complex.

But unless the plan for the sports complex is approved by Nov. 1, Otterbein can build homes on the land on either side of Turtlecreek Twp. Park. No land would be transferred to the county for the sports park.

The Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau, which is to operate the sports park, wants to begin work this summer, so the facilities can open next season.

The approval would also enable the county to enact a 1-percent hike in the local lodgings tax, approved by Ohio lawmakers to help finance the development – on the drawing board for more than a decade.

“They are very adamant. This is going to be it,” said Larry Williams, who lives on New England Way.

The conclusion of the approval process was advertised by a small sign, posted on the property, west of the section of the park across from New England Way.

Residents complained about a lack of public notice during a March 29 public hearing, which ended with Turtlecreek Twp. Trustee Dan George agreeing to consider trading the land for its park.

This could enable the county to move the project west, up Greentree Road, away from New England Way.

Last week, Commissioner Dave Young said restrictions on use of the land gifted to the township by Otterbein and state funds used to develop the park limit conversion of the land for the sports complex.

The residents’ concerns must be balanced against the economic impact anticipated from teams and their fans traveling to “Ohio’s Largest Playground” for a tournament, Young said.

“If I lived on that street, I would be one of the ones out there trying to fight it,” Young added. “Any decision we make is going to try to lessen the impact to residents.”

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