Warren County commissioners on Tuesday rejected a proposal by Speedway to purchase and demolish the historic 19th century Twenty Mile House building in Deerfield Township to make way for a new gas station and convenience store.
Commissioners voted 3-0 against a plan to build a new driveway off of Columbia Road into the site. The proposed driveway was closer to the intersection of Columbia Road and U.S. 22/Ohio 3, where the building sits.
“I just think that safety is the key factor here (and) that it’s already bad traffic,” Commissioner Pat South said. “It’s already a bad intersection. … It will only worsen by moving the entrance any closer to the intersection.”
Paul McKibben has more details about the proposal and reasons for rejection:
The building was most recently the Red Rock Tavern and it closed this past winter. It was built in 1822 – parts of it might date back to 1804 – and served as a stagecoach stop. It’s also been a restaurant. The property is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Warren County Engineer’s Office denied in June a request from Speedway about a new driveway. Two weeks ago, commissioners continued to Tuesday a public hearing in hope that a compromise could be reached between Speedway and the engineer’s office. Such a deal couldn’t be done.
Speedway needed a variance from commissioners to bypass the county’s access management regulations for the new driveway. The existing driveway was grandfathered in and doesn’t meet regulations either.
Speedway was willing to spend $250,000 to build a right-turn lane at the intersection, which was required by the engineer’s office. Speedway wanted to make a new driveway that is closer to the intersection and with only right turns in and out. The engineer’s office was willing to support Speedway widening the current driveway, but with left and right turns in and out of the property.
Nick Hershberger of Speedway reiterated the company could not live with the existing driveway.
“There’s no physical wa0y with the physical restraints of the property that we’re dealing with to meet the current access management regulations,” he said.
Owner Jeff Black of South Lebanon has said he wants to sell the property because he’s losing money.
South said regardless of the hearing’s outcome she will be talking to the county’s economic development department about helping Black find a new user.
Residents have rallied to the building’s defense by collecting signatures, organizing a meeting, writing commissioners and attending Tuesday’s public hearing. They were concerned about traffic safety and the building being demolished.
Kim Grant of Deerfield Township said after the meeting residents would like to reach out to Black and they understand his situation.
“We’d like to work with him to find hopefully another buyer for the building that would preserve it,” she said.
The township’s zoning commission is scheduled to review a site plan for the project Sept. 12. The property is already properly zoned for the Speedway’s proposed use.