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* News Release *
 
Thursday, March 8, 2007
For Immediate Release

COUNTY ENGINEER CLARIFIES MISPERCEPTIONS ABOUT THOROUGHFARE PLAN

Recent news articles have led to certain misperceptions about the updated Butler County Thoroughfare Plan and how it was generated. Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens offers the following points in an effort to clarify for our citizens the intent, development, and attributes of the Plan:

Q: Why has the Thoroughfare Plan draft been called "controversial" by the media?

A: To characterize the Plan as "controversial" over dramatizes questions about a very small portion in Oxford Township -- the only portion of the Thoroughfare Plan that has generated concern. The majority of the Plan draft has not been disputed in any way. Development of the Plan involved the integration of County, state, and federal roadway networks with those of 13 townships, seven cities, and six villages. Although not required by the Ohio Revised Code (ORC), the County Engineer organized two public hearings to solicit public opinion about the Plan draft. These hearings were advertised and held by the County Commissioners. There was no attendance from the public at either hearing and consequently no objections were raised to any part of the Thoroughfare Plan. Therefore, the County Engineer moved the Plan forward. Upon presentation of the Plan to the Butler County Planning Commission, the Oxford Township portion was abruptly met with public opposition. While this concern is being carefully and respectfully evaluated, it is important to not lose the perspective that this is one piece of an otherwise very large and comprehensive Plan.

Q: Is the County Engineer attempting to force this Plan on the citizens of Oxford Township?

A: The County Engineer moved forward with the Plan when there was no public opposition at two public hearings. The Oxford area portion of the Plan draft was provided to the Thoroughfare Plan Advisory Committee by the City of Oxford and integrated with the rest of the countywide Plan. Apparent differences between the City of Oxford and Oxford Township concerning the City's proposed network of roadways outside the city limits are what have been brought into question. This is a local dispute in which the County Engineer, whose job it is to look at a total countywide perspective and ensure that local plans integrate properly within the bigger picture, has been caught in the middle.

Q: Will the proposed roads in Oxford Township be built and therefore destroy the rural character of the Township?

A: The Butler County Thoroughfare Plan is designed to fit development if it occurs. Should development not occur, the roads will not be constructed. Lack of a sound plan leads to urban sprawl, which is precisely what the Township indicates that it does not want. Northwest Butler County is growing. Recent analyses performed by the Northwest Butler County Study group indicate that population growth and traffic counts will continue to increase in the Oxford area. Many roads in the study area already do not provide the LOS (Level of Service) that they should. Having a plan in place to meet these growing demands on the infrastructure is critical if uncontrolled development is to be avoided.

Q: Does a legal opinion issued by the Butler County Prosecutor's Office contradict the County Engineer's efforts to approve and adopt the Plan?

A: The Prosecutor and the Engineer are citing two different sections of the Ohio Revised Code. While the Prosecutor has referenced ORC Section 711.10, the County Engineer has developed the Thoroughfare Plan in accordance with ORC Section 5541.01, the same section under which the 1994 Butler County Thoroughfare Plan was developed and formally adopted by the County Commissioners on January 20, 1994, Resolution No. 94-1-91. That Plan was also approved by the Butler County Planning Commission which passed Resolution No. 93.127 on October 12, 1993 asking that the Plan be recommended to the County Commissioners for approval. To further confuse matters, the ORC states that there must be a roadway plan but does not specify the process by which that plan is to be adopted. Hence, there has been no attempt by the County Engineer to circumvent the legal process as has been insinuated in the press. Based on the Prosecutor's opinion that a county planning commission is the approving body for a county or regional highway plan, the County Engineer will ask for adoption of the updated Thoroughfare Plan under ORC Section 711.10.

Q: What is the next step?

A: The County Engineer will meet with the Butler County Planning Commission on March 13, 2007 and recommend that the updated Thoroughfare Plan be approved under ORC Section 711.10 per the Prosecutor's opinion. Said Plan shall revert to the version that was approved by the Planning Commission on November 14, 2006, Resolution No. 06.153, which depicts a different configuration of proposed roads in Oxford Township from a slightly revised version that was presented at the public hearings in January 2007. Should the City of Oxford and Oxford Township come to a resolution with each other regarding their proposed network of roadways, the Thoroughfare Plan Advisory Committee will review the proposal and make recommendations to the Planning Commission for integration with the rest of the 2007 Thoroughfare Plan.

Purpose and Development of the Butler County Thoroughfare Plan

  • The updated Butler County Thoroughfare Plan, which is still officially in draft form, is a master plan for the County's rapidly expanding roadway grid. Designed to provide Butler County citizens with a safe, diversified, and more efficient transportation system, this comprehensive countywide Thoroughfare Plan will be a long-range project planning and development tool for BCEO engineers as well as all County, city, and township planners.
  • The Plan strives for a united, orderly approach to improving our countywide transportation infrastructure.
  • The Plan has been developed in accordance with Section 5541.01 of the Ohio Revised Code (ORC). This is the same section which under which the 1994 Butler County Thoroughfare Plan was developed. That Plan was approved by the Butler County Planning Commission and formally adopted by the County Commissioners on January 20, 1994, Resolution No. 94-1-91.
  • A team of community leaders from throughout Butler County was assembled by the County Engineer to serve on an advisory committee. This diverse group was comprised of township, city, and County officials as well as representatives from OKI (Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments) and the private sector. They were assigned to subcommittees that were responsible for development of proposed projects, technical counsel, and integration of bikeway and pedestrian facilities.
  • Once adopted the revised Thoroughfare Plan will replace the 1994 version.
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For more information contact:

Chris Petrocy, BCEO Public Information Supervisor
Greg Wilkens, P.E., P.S., Butler County Engineer
Phone 513.867.5744 • Fax 513.867.5849


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