CBT president: City didn’t do enough to help us

cbt presidentConstruction is continuing on the new headquarters for CBT in Columbia Township as the company plans to move at least 120 jobs from Cincinnati later this year.

And with CBT’s move, questions are emerging about whether the city did enough to convince the company to stay within its borders.

The move is a big deal for Columbia Township, which stands to gain about $100,000 a year in earnings taxes from the jobs, administrator Michael Lemon said. That money equals about 2.4 percent of the township’s annual budget.

“It’s a very well-respected company,” Lemon said. “We’re very excited about them coming. They’ve got extraordinary owners and leaders. They’ve been an absolute delight to work with.”

CBT wants to open the new operation at 5500 Ridge Ave. by July 1, Lemon said. The company, which was founded in 1921, is currently in Queensgate at 737 W. Sixth St.

City Councilman Chris Seelbach said Friday he has asked Mayor John Cranley’s administration to provide details on the circumstances that led to the company’s exit from Cincinnati.

Seelbach said he sent a congratulatory message to the company learning it received an award. In a handwritten reply sent in November, CBT President James Stahl Jr. hinted the city staff members didn’t do enough to help keep it in Cincinnati.

“CBT approached the city of Cincinnati about helping us stay in Queensgate where he have been since 1988,” the letter said. “We were told by several individuals there is nothing the city could do and wished us good luck. Obviously we were shocked and disappointed.”

Stahl couldn’t be reached for further comment Friday. City officials with knowledge about CBT’s plans couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

Seelbach said working to get information isn’t designed to be a witch hunt, but to better understand what happened.

Columbia Township roundabout dead

A plan for a $2 million-plus traffic roundabout in Columbia Township some five years in the making is dead at the hands of businesses and residents.

The Columbia Township Board of Trustees had agreed to contribute $446,000 in matching funds to a $1.76 million grant from the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments for a roundabout at the intersection of Bramble Avenue and Plainville Road on the township line with the Cincinnati neighborhood of Madisonville.

A roundabout is a circular intersection in which vehicles move continuously in one direction around a central island.

Columbia Township had hoped a landscaped roundabout in the Bramble Avenue-Plainville Road area would make traffic flow more easily and encourage economic-development there.

Then came a recent public meeting.

“The businesses on Plainville Road and Bramble Avenue and the residents in the area of the proposed roundabout no longer support the path included in our comprehensive plan to help improve the business district and want to see something different,” Columbia Township Administrator Mike Lemon said.

“We do not want to force a project on the businesses and people that they do not want.”

Columbia Township will update its comprehensive plan next year, Lemon said.

“The township will seek the community’s thoughts and input regarding the future of the Madison Place/Plainville Road area as well as the rest of the township,” Lemon said.

“It will reflect the changing environment and new direction from the input of residents and businesses.”

OKI awarded Columbia Township the roundabout grant in 2010, when the township hoped to build it where Plainville and Madisonville roads meet Murray Avenue at the border of Columbia Township and Mariemont.

When the township was unable to sell Mariemont on the idea – despite the fact that Mariemont would not have to ante up matching funds – Columbia Township found Cincinnati a willing partner for a roundabout in the Bramble Avenue-Plainville Road area.

The estimated cost of the project was $2.2 million, which included right-of-way acquisition, geotechnical assessments, environmental review, storm drainage, lighting, utility relocation and construction.

Columbia Township had not expected construction to begin before 2017.

“(Scrapping the roundabout) is a win for the residents, saving $500,000 and a small business and maybe another,” said resident Carl Jones, who opposed the roundabout and who recently failed to win a seat on the Columbia Township Board of Trustees.

On Nov. 3, Chris Kritikos bested Jones by a vote of 692 to 543 for a four-year term on the board of trustees beginning in January.

It’s the seat now held by trustee President Stephen Langenkamp, who did not seeking re-election.

Kritikos will join incumbents Vice President Susan Hughes and trustee David Kubicki, whose terms run through 2017, on the Columbia Township Board of Trustees.

Earlier this year, Jones also spoke out against a 5.1-mill waste levy that Columbia Township voters approved by a vote of 857 to 503 on Nov. 3.

Estimates are that it will annually cost township homeowners $178.50 per $100,000 valuation of their homes and generate just above $614,000 a year for Columbia Township.


Roundabout Project Canceled

Our plan for a $2 million-plus traffic roundabout has been canceled.

The Township had been working on a plan for a roundabout in the Bramble Avenue-Plainville Road area, which could make traffic flow more easily and encourage economic-development there. However, residents and businesses were against the plan.