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Covington to Acquire 29 Undeveloped Parcels in Neighborhood

A Covington neighborhood that has long stood unfinished may be closer to resolution on Tuesday night when the city commission is expected to vote to accept ownership of twenty-nine undeveloped parcels.

Pointe Benton in the city's Peaselburg neighborhood emerged in the late 1990s as part of a development agreement between the City of Covington and Herschner & Associates but following an alleged breach in the contract by Herschner, the development was bogged down by legal battles. 

Though there was no resolution in the courtroom battles, multiple developers have died over the years, and now the city is poised to take action to spur the development's completion.

"Every time we got so far as a city, someone passed away," said City Solicitor Michael Bartlett. "I joked that I didn't really want to get involved in this. I was nervous. I want to see this through before my demise."

Bartlett wasn't the only one to dabble into the macabre in discussing the stalled project. 

"It makes me very nervous to get this property," said Commissioner Michelle Williams, " and now after hearing of all the deaths, I think it's cursed."

The twenty-nine properties offer sweeping views of Cincinnati and the Herschner estate is willing to give those lots to the city, Bartlett explained, as long as the city satisfies some obligations the deceased developer owed to the homeowners' association there.

"I think the reason the city got initially involved in the last decade was, nothing was being done," said City Manager David Johnston. "The deficient storm water system in place was impacting adjacent property owners above the development and below the development.

"And then the owners died and the problem has gotten worse."

Johnston said that the best solution was for the city to be involved and to control the assets, and then sell the properties. "Otherwise, it's not going to be done."

"We don't think we're going to be owning it all that long and we think we'll have the resources to invest," Johnston said. 

The city is not paying to acquire the properties. 

Bartlett said that the city would either sell the properties individually or seek another developer. Neighborhood Services Director Ken Smith said that a request for proposals would be sent out "very quickly." "I think it is very attractive," Smith said. "I don't see another way where we can solve all these various issues."

The decision by the city commission was welcome news to Pointe Benton homeowners' association president Sonya Walton.

"We have nineteen owners, and they are all very excited to get this approved and moved along," Walton said. "The properties sell very quickly."

"It's a great play-in," Commissioner Denny Bowman said. "It's been long overdue. We've had so many problems with lawsuits and everything else."

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Image via PDS