Letter to the Community - Sept. 27, 2022

To the Anderson Township Community:

During a recent Anderson Township Board of Trustees meeting, residents raised several questions regarding the Township’s involvement with the Forest Hills School District and the proposed consolidation of Anderson and Turpin High Schools. This open letter to the community is in response to those questions.

For years, the Anderson Township Board of Township Trustees (“Township”) has collaborated with the Forest Hills Board of Education (“District”) where the law allows by constructing sidewalks connecting schools, participation on the School Safety Committee, and funding for the School Resource Officer among many other projects. Such collaboration is beneficial to our community. However, the Township and the District are separate and distinct political subdivisions within the State of Ohio. Each elected body, the Board of Township Trustees, and the Board of Education, has sole governing authority of its respective political subdivision and responsibilities as outlined by the Ohio Revised Code.  As such, it is the elected members of the Board of Education who are responsible for all governmental activities, decisions, and policymaking related to any proposal involving the schools and school property. The Township has not, cannot, and will not intervene in such matters.

When Rich Neumann, Senior Development Advisor with Elevar Design Group, approached individual Trustees to discuss his concept for a “transformational project” that he believed would benefit the entire community, each Trustee listened and then referred Mr. Neumann to Township staff. On August 15, 2022, Mr. Neumann, and others from Elevar, Bradley Payne Advisors, and Dinsmore & Shohl, met with Township staff informing them of their idea to consolidate Anderson and Turpin High Schools. District elected and appointed officials were not present, a definitive proposal was not presented, and no action was requested of the Township.  The proposers did ask about the land use plan and zoning process, should this idea advance.  That process is prescribed by the Ohio Revised Code and the Township advised that there would be no (and could not be) any preconceived determination as to zoning.  The statutory process must be followed. The meeting was preliminary in nature and consistent with meetings requested by other developers, engineers, and architects considering developing private or public property throughout the Township. Township staff made clear that any proposed development was a matter for the Board of Education, not the Township Trustees.

Residents have questioned whether the Township’s interest in attracting a hotel has played any role in Mr. Neumann’s proposal related to the Anderson High School site. The short answer is “no.” Township discussions surrounding the need for a hotel began in January 2006 as a prior Board of Trustees prepared for development along the Ohio Riverfront stemming from the Township’s land use plan for that area. The construction of the Ohio River Trail, Belterra Park Gaming, PNC Pavilion, expansion of Mercy Hospital, an increase in Anderson Park District regional events, and the significant level of private and public investment within and surrounding Anderson Township led to the continuation of those discussions over the years and, in 2017, the Board of Township Trustees commissioned a market study for the purpose of evaluating demand for a hotel. The study focused on two locations including the Ohio Riverfront, across from Belterra Park Gaming.  The study was updated in 2019, prior to the ultimate sale of the Anderson Center Station. On May 19, 2022, at the request of the volunteer-member Anderson Township Economic Development Committee, the Board authorized an update to that study to see if demand had changed after the pandemic and the construction of new hotels in neighboring communities. The draft study is available on the Township’s website. Neither the current, or prior, study contemplated construction of a hotel on any District-owned property.

The Board of Trustees appreciates the comments and concerns expressed by residents but wishes to clarify that any decisions related to reconfiguration or consolidation of schools within the Forest Hills School District rests solely with the Board of Education.

On behalf of the Board of Township Trustees.


Vicky L. Earhart

Township Administrator