August 8th, 2012 By Andy Brownfield | News | Posted In: County Commission, Religion, Government

Jehovah's Witnesses, Harrison Twp. Duke It Out Before County

Zoning, religion at heart of spat over industrial park

The Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners heard both sides Wednesday in an appeal that pits the Jehovah’s Witnesses against Harrison Township.

The dispute stems from a plot of land that, through some legal wrangling and a Joint Economic Development Agreement, Harrison Township officials say can only be used for industrial purposes that create jobs.

The Southwest Ohio Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses wants to build a massive assembly hall that they say would be a draw to the 28,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in the region and create jobs in surrounding service sector businesses. 

The Hamilton County Rural Zoning Commission denied permission to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, citing fear over the impact to local businesses and traffic, causing the religious group to appeal the decision to the Board of County Commissioners.

Board President Greg Hartmann said commissioners would set a date in the coming weeks to arrive at a decision. 

Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes lawyer Chris Finney represented the Witnesses before the board. 

Finney argued that the Zoning Commission was wrong to deny permission to build the assembly hall. He pointed to the positive economic impact such halls have had in other states and brought witnesses to testify about the potential impact it could have on Cincinnati.

According to a slide show presented before the board, the hall could result in $1.19 million in annual tax revenue and create 421 jobs in the service industry surrounding the site.

Being a religious institution, the hall would be tax-exempt and would be staffed by volunteers.

Harrison Township officials argued that the area was created under a special agreement that requires industrial use and that any businesses located there create jobs and enhance economic development. 

Mayor Joel McGuire said the township had offered up other locations for the assembly hall, but the Witnesses were fixated on the one.

“That’s why we’re in the all-or-nothing situation we’re in because they insist on this particular spot as opposed to the many other locations where there’d be no problems at all,” McGuire said.

08.09.2012 at 05:00 Reply

It seems the township and the Zoning commission are the ones creating the problem. What is so special about this piece of land? Are there other developers that have plans for it that the board members get a finacial kick-back for refusing the Witnesses the right to build? The article said there are other tracts of land that they would approve but not this one. I think there is something else going on here.


08.10.2012 at 07:45

Since German Lopez, hack extraordinaire, is not allowing comments on his post, I will re-submit what I posted there, that should somewhat answer Mr. Macready's questions. 

"I was present during the commissioners meeting yesterday. To assert that \" Harrison Township is worried the building will cause too much disruption\" is so factually inaccurate, that City Beat should be ashamed. The issue with this site is that it was developed with tax payers money by way of economic development tools such as JEDD, (joint economic development district) TIF (tax incremental financing) and PUD (planned unit development. These are ways that cities, counties, et al, can fund projects with tax pay er money, and make that money back from businnesses payroll/ and income tax. The Jehovah\'s Witness development will create NO JOBS ( having a restaurant hire extra servers is not economic development) or generate any payroll revenue that needs to be generated on that site specifically. Harrison Township and the City of Harrison has showed the group several other sites in the area that do not have the same kind of economic conditions that the site they are insisting on, does. To state the Township sees this group as \"disrupting\" is false. To insinuate that this group is being discriminated against is bad journalism. However, this is City Beat and though I would like to think your reporters are more capable, increasingly they show themselves to be inept. Shame on City Beat. "


In essence, the developers of this site were given many breaks, incentives and monies to develop it with the understanding the state, township and county would recoop expenses by way of income/payroll taxes. 

The Jehovah's claims on how much sales revenue they will create are only in theory and are meager compared to revenues brought in by job creation and income tax. 


I hate to repeat it, but the township has worked extensively on other sites with this organization, and instead of respecting them, Mr. Finney and Co. have decided to climb up on the cross and illustrate themselves as martyrs suffering from discrimination. They should all be ashamed. 




08.10.2012 at 08:30

Susan, beginning your comments with insults is not a good way to stay around the 'ol CityBeat message board for very long. Considering you posted to multiple blogs on this topic, I'm assuming this is an important outlet for you. Please comment with respect and civility, and understand that our commenting system requires each individual comment to be approved by an administrator to keep the more malicious commenters out. German Lopez didn't create the system — he toils within it just like you.


08.10.2012 at 09:13

I replied to you on the wrong thread. My comment to German's story was not malicious. It was critical and I expressed severe disapointment in his reporting of the commissioner's meeting. 

When it wasn't published, it not only deepened my disappointment in Mr. Lopez, but exascerbated my continual disapointment in City Beat as a whole. This paper had a time when it was excellent, factual and right on point. Now it's slipping.  

As a news outlet, the public is your checks and balances. I may not have been nice with my comments, but I cetainly was not wrong. Freedom of speech is for everyone, not just your staff writers. My comment was far from trolling and to try to shame me for being critical of your staff shows more about the increasing ineptitude of your writing staff, than to me being needlessly malicious. 


08.10.2012 at 09:32

Susan, we are clearly allowing you to say your piece, critical of us or not. If I thought your comment was malicious it wouldn't have been published. What I said was that we monitor the comments to keep malicious posts out. But yours was published. See?

Still, starting it off by calling someone "hack extraordinaire" isn't really the best way to have an intelligent and respectful conversation about the issues at hand or reporting techniques. Please continue to enjoy your freedom of speech as quickly as we can click the button that publishes them.


06.16.2013 at 11:54

To Anwer Stephen Macready; reply ...yes there is alternative reasons they want that land , and its called fracking rights . The Witness Delegation in Denton Texas Built an Elegant multi acre facilty with a trucking facility to service the north texas area at 14542 US Highway 380 West , in Krum Texas 76249. But now ...they have large fracking  storage tanks in several plots on the property . While on the one hand they warn of God ruining those who ruin the earth for greediful reasons , the Society Of Jehovahs Witnesses are no different functioning to a tune of oil and gas investments to drill baby drill to get the money on the properties they own . So Sellers beware ...they want to drill to advance their cause .  


08.10.2012 at 12:59 Reply
Heads up on Jehovah's Witnesses.
 Jehovah's Witnesses typically will build this with free all 'volunteer labor' aka slave labor.They will utilize little if any secular contractors.They will hold meetings that are 90% commuters who will eat at their facility.Some will gas up for the return trip home that is the only patronage.
In 30 years of no property taxes they typically will sell the property to commercial interest reaping enormous profit.The new owners will be secular as the JW don't care who they sell to.In 30 years you will  then get proper tax revenue.
When they cite a local $200 per family lodging and dining expenditure this is a bald faced willful LIE.What they fact-fudge is that in some cases of their national once a year 3 day convention extravaganza they do spend tourist dollars,so they go and cite these examples as typical.
This assembly hall is a regional addition to the New York Watchtower real estate publishing empire.Because it is 'regional' they will be mostly commuters from 100 miles or less and won't lodge overnight and dine at local restaurants.
Danny Haszard


08.10.2012 at 09:00

I've posted twice. The first time was to the article where German Lopez first reported, inaccurately, about what was said at the commissioners hearing. 

I am not a journalist, City Beat and their staff are. If they don't want to post facts, or comments from people calling them out about misprepresenting the facts, whether they are "nice" or not, goes to show the level of journalistic integrity this paper has. 

It's pretty low, BTW.  

If you don't want to be critiqued, get out of the game. City Beat likes to purport itself as a beacon of journalistic integrity without holding your staff up to those standards. That gives your paper zero right to bust on any other news outlets, which has been done on your pages in the past, several times. 



03.13.2014 at 08:01

I may not know what fraking is mr. Moore, but your wrong about JW in TX! Those people are kind people who spread the word of GOD they dont try to make money on fraking whatever that is? The american government put it there not the JW's OK SIR


08.10.2012 at 08:20 Reply
90 percent of Jehovahs Witnesses will commute and they will eat at the facilitys in-house concessions.
Some of the big national JW annual conventions have motel lodging but this center wont be as this is a *regional* center and most members will commute less than 100 miles.
RESULTS-Zero property taxes and some gasoline fill-ups for the commuters,thats all.
Very few JWs will dine out spending vendor money that is propaganda.


08.17.2012 at 09:53 Reply

I know for a fact that the Jehovah's Witnesses, are very Decent people, Honest and Well Respected by many.  They are not Jehovah's...they are his witnesses, as stated at Isaiah 43:10.  And whoever said they are "slave labors" must not understand the definition of Volunteers. I personally have Volunteered on one of our projects, and many of the other companies that were brought in, such as cement truck drivers, companies who install sprinkler systems in buildings, etc... who I mite mention are not witnesses, but their companies are paid by the organization, for their services. Which is why they said it would create jobs and money for the community, because they subcontract jobs out to those companies who offer such services in that community, which in turn is supporting the community, is it not? Everything we do, around the world is done by volunteers and we recieve voluntairy donations for our work. Volunteers/Voluntairy means gifts from the heart, like the widow in the bible Jesus said as he noticed her when she dropped in 2 small coins of very little little value, he said she dropped in more than all the rest dropped in, why? because she dropped in out of her want, all the means of living she had. The others dropped in out of their surplus. So instead of trash talking the Jehovah's Witnesses, why don't you except a study of the bible from them, the next time they voluntarliy take time out of their life to come to your door to share something positive with you in the bible. They can answer all of your questions with just the Bible, Guarenteed! I think people give the Witnesses flack because they really strive to live their lives according to bible standards, and not just to which bible standards fit into their life style.  Maybe more people should consider the true definition to what it means to be a Christian, the exact definition is, "to be Christ like", or "to be like Chirst" obviously we cant be exactly like Jesus because he is perfect but we certianly can strive to "be Christ like"



09.06.2012 at 09:04 Reply

Being one of Jehovah's Witnesses I woud like to comment as to my families personal use of the Assembly Halls.  Yes we live within 140 miles of the assembly hall in Daytona Beach, FL.  YES we still spend the money to stay in nearby hotels and eat at nearby restaurants because it's easier on the families rather then to drive back and forth from home to the site.  We are encouraged to stay at the nearby hotels and to always wear our convention badges whenever we dine out or shop in local stores.  The programs at our facitility are very interesting to us, as important as it is for most people to call 911 in an emergency situation, so we like to be refreshed and ready to take in the seriousness of the information that will be provided.  And believe me when I say that after hearing the information from 9:30am - 4:30pm  as a family unit we are drained and could use a hearty meal and a comfortable room to change our clothes (brothers are wearing suits with ties, dress shoes belts, etc.  Sisters are wearing dresses, hose, dress shoes, etc.) and get a really good night of sleeping before attending the next day of the assembly.  And I'd like to add that Jehovah's Witnesses do not become angry or short tempered when the businesses are dealing with a sudden impact of customers... we remain joyful and understand that we will be waited on in turn as soon as possible.  While we wait we usually talk to others who have come  to the assembly makijng new friends.  Between rooms, meals and shopping I would say as a family we spend about $500 in those 3 days if not more.  That might not seem to be a lot but when you consider that we spend that multiplied by 28,000 witnesses it's easy to see why Daytona Beach thrives on those weekend visits from us.  Another source of information that may be helpful to some of the interested parties is an article on this subject which can be found here:  http://www.news- journalonline.com/article/20120831/ENT/308319868

Notice in the article just how appreciated the JW's are for the ECONOMY of Daytona Beach.  And I'm sure Daytona Beach is a much more popular city then Harrison Twp.  which means that the extra revenue brought in would do the township a huge favor.   (next portion is from that article)        

The Convention and Visitors Bureau is offering $38,700 in incentives to lure the group to Daytona Beach. The money will mostly be used to pay for the group's parking. The county is pitching in $29,700.