County seeks TIF for commerce park to help pay for multimillion dollar traffic project

By Megan Alley
Sun staff

County officials are asking local municipality and school district leaders to sign onto and/or approve, respectively, a tax increment financing for the county’s South Afton Commerce Park.

In February 2016, it was announced that the Clermont County Community Improvement Corporation, Inc. had purchased 242 acres of land to build the commerce park at Half Acre Road and state Route 32 in Williamsburg Township in order to prepare “shovel ready” sites for manufacturers.

In March 2016, the CIC granted the Clermont County Transportation Improvement District management authority over all aspects of final design and construction for the commerce park’s public infrastructure, which includes installing road infrastructure, water and sewer lines, and putting in underground conduits for natural gas, electric and telecommunication lines.

The project is slated to be completed by June 30.

Andrew Kuchta, who leads the CIC as executive director, recently presented the financing plan to the Williamsburg Township trustees during one of their regular meetings.

In short, by incrementally diverting real property tax revenue generated by the commerce park away from the township, the Williamsburg Local School District and US Grant Joint Vocational School for the next 40 years, Kuchta hopes the county can sock away enough money – a little more than $32 million – to repay itself for construction costs of the commerce and help fund eligible infrastructure and roadway projects in the area.

“It will still benefit the township directly,” Kuchta said, adding that the money would be become available on a year-by-year basis.

Kutcha also proposed using $20 million of the total TIF revenue as “matching funds” to spur the Ohio Department of Transportation to move forward with a roadway infrastructure project that would get rid of the traffic light at Bauer Road.

Additionally, add a new interchange around Herold Road.

The proposed project would be an extension of the state Route 32 improvement projects.

“I know that it’s not a project happening in the township, but it’s going to benefit the township,” Kutcha said. “If you get rid of that traffic light, in my opinion, it’s going to have a longer term, bigger impact on the future growth of Williamsburg Township than our industrial park is.”

He added, “If we can totally clear out that access and have no traffic lights between here and [Interstate] 275, it will change the township forever.”

The county drafted concept plans for the proposed interchange project about 10 years ago, and Kutcha expects that the project could move forward in as soon as 10 to 15 years.

“It’s probably a $40 [million] to $60 million project, so if we have low to mid $20 million to contribute to that as a local match, that becomes a very attractive project for the state of Ohio, the federal government because it has such a strong local match,” Kutcha said.

Kutcha and his team are currently seeking approval for the TIF from the Williamsburg Local School District and US Grant Joint Vocational School – the county is required to get approval from the school districts because of the TIF’s amount and length.

He hopes to get the TIF in place this summer.