On Tuesday, March 2, the Batavia Township trustees approved an overlay district and site plans for the former Ford plant located on James E. Sauls Drive in Batavia. The plant has been purchased by Industrial Realty Group and plans have been proposed by the University of Cincinnati to lease and renovate the office portion of the plant into classrooms.
The plans hit a snag at a public hearing on Feb. 12, when trustees voiced concerns about the lack of buffers between the proposed use of office facilities by the University of Cincinnati and the manufacturing facilities located next door.
Trustee Archie Wilson was concerned about the responsibility of the trustees to ensure that future tenants would have a buffer line at the back portion of the building.
During the continuation hearing on March 2, the board heard from several community spokesmen about the urgency for moving forward with plans.
"A lot of people have worked very hard behind the scenes to help bring UC Clermont to this point," said John Melvin, director of the Small Business Development Center with the Clermont Chamber of Commerce. "Now we have a college organization interested in our area and we see this as a great opportunity for economic development and the creation of jobs. I encourage the board to approve the site plans."
Trustee Jim Sauls stated that after the meeting on Feb. 12 the trustees made a lot of calls and talked to a lot of people to ensure that they were making the right decision.
Chris Smith, board member for the Clermont County CIC said that he wanted to reiterate what he had previously said when he spoke with the board.
"This plan is important to UC Clermont," said Smith. "This is a wonderful resource and will act as an anchor to attract and bring manufacturing, other educational facilities and health care facilities into the area. This could springboard into new areas and opportunities."
When no one spoke in opposition to the plan, Wilson moved that the board approve the overlay district site plan for the University of Cincinnati.
"I want to thank everyone for coming tonight," said Wilson. "These are tough times for everyone. In Batavia Township we are working on a $3 million budget while our neighboring townships are operating on $30 to $40 million budgets."
"We thank you for your vote," said UC vice president R. Mick McLaughlin. "We have had a long, wonderful relationship in the township and we are happy to be coming to the township with this project."
The college has plans to move into the two-story, 140,000 square foot office space by September of 2010. They will be creating classrooms for teaching nursing, allied health, and education. It is expected that nearly 700 students and faculty members will use the facility.