Council fails to extend development agreement for Loveland Station
Loveland, Oh. - Despite that the development agreement Loveland has with River Trail Flats, LLC, (a.k.a. - Loveland Station and Loveland Station Apartments) expired on April 30, and that city council keeps passing on the numerous opportunities in front of them to extend it, taxpayers continue to pile dollars and dirt on the project.
The City and the developer, previously entered into a development agreement on October 28, 2013. This past April 29, a resolution was on the council agenda at the request of the developer to extend the “due diligence period” until June 30, with the right to extend it until August 31. The resolution before council also asked for changes to the original agreement that some on council did not like.
During the discussion, councilwoman, Angie Settell inquired about the current due diligence period that would expire the next day. She wanted to know what would happen if Council didn’t take action. City attorney, Franklin Klaine said, ‘The City, or the developer, could walk away from the project.”
After considerable debate, the resolution was voted down. Yes: Mark Fitzgerald, Angie Settell, Ted Phelps. No: Rob Weisgerber, Pam Gross, Linda Cox, Paulette Leeper. The resolution failed with a vote of 3-4.
Instead of passing the needed formal resolution to amend the agreement, council simply acted by motion to recognize their continued support of the project.
The resolution has been before council two more times with no action being taken; on May 27, and most recently, last Tuesday, June 24. Last week the exhibits outlining the proposed changes were not available.
On April 27, councilmember, Weisgerber said that he had been a strong advocate for the development, however had problems with some of the changes and would not be supporting the resolution. He said he didn’t like the word “apartments” in the newest proposed name the developer wants to use, Loveland Station Apartments. The intent of the development was to create jobs and have a "mixed use" he explained. “The word apartment connotes a residential development,” Weisgerber said. He also had concerns about public parking spaces being too far from the existing businesses like Pizazz and Paxton's Grill. The new proposal for some of the dedicated parking spaces for existing businesses would be next to Loveland Canoe and Kayak. He said, “The diligence period has been a walk." Weisgerber said he had, "Concerns about continuing to walk away from the original development agreement for things like where the public parking is positioned."
Councilwoman Gross noted that one amendment gave the developer the right to operate, manage and enforce the public parking owned by the City. She asked why the City would be willing to abdicate its responsibility to operate and manage this area. Settell referenced language that relinquished the management and operation of the public parking spaces to the developer as an “agent” for the City
Last week, interim city manager, David Duckworth said he recently met with Jim Cohen, the developer, who,“Continues to engage his team and fine tune his product.” Duckworth said Council should know around August 8 whether Cohen has been able to get his costs in line with his budget. “I feel very confidant he can,” said Duckworth. “As far as I am concerned, we are moving forward with this project. He’s moving it forward on his end. We are moving it forward on our end”
Duckworth also commented on the mound of dirt the public sees at the site in Historic Downtown. He said it is only about 20 per-cent of what will be brought to the site for the City to meet the requirements of the plan proposed by River Trail Flats, LLC. More will come from a local excavation and more from Clifton. He said, “Get it while you can, is the strategy.” He said there are other “huge shipments coming” in next 8-12 weeks.”
Council also recently approved spending $26,680.00 to engineer a railroad “quiet zone” for River Trail Flats, LLC. The quiet zone will cost taxpayers an estimated $300,000.00.