City of Middletown Charter Review

About every 10 years, the city performs a review of our City Charter, which lays out the basic structure of the municipal government.  2018 will be a Charter review year, and the information below lays out the basic process and purpose of reviewing the Charter from time to time.

What is the City Charter?

The City Charter is the local equivalent to a state or federal constitution. It defines the relationship between the government and its people. It is the “supreme law” of the City of Middletown. Under the Ohio Constitution, a charter allows a municipality to structure its government as it sees fit. In addition, the City Charter gives Middletown the ability to exercise “home rule” powers by its processes.

What is the purpose of the Charter Review Committee?

Article 1, Section 5 of the City Charter establishes the Charter Review Committee. This group is responsible for reviewing the Charter and recommending to City Council any alterations, revisions, and amendments to this Charter as in its judgment seem advisable. A committee must be formed once every 10 years to review the Charter.

Charter Review Process / Anticipated Schedule

City Council appointed the committee members at the February 20th City Council meeting. The Committee had their first meeting this week. We expect to have two meetings per month through May (or June if necessary). Meetings will be facilitated by Special Counsel, Les Landen. Members of the committee include:

Juan Helvey
John Langhorne
Greg Martin
Lauren Matus
Joseph Newlin
Rick Pearce
Jeff Repper

June 19th          Submit report containing any recommendations to City Council

July 17th           City Council votes on amendments to be placed on the ballot

August 8th        Deadline to file approved amendments with the Board of Elections

If you have any questions about the Charter or the process feel free to contact Les Landen at 727-3673 or by email at

MetroParks of Butler County and the Middletown River Center

Although it’s still chilly, spring is around the corner.  No… really.  It is.

If you are a Middletown resident, you may not be aware that MetroParks of Butler County has eleven parks open to the public with nearly 5,000 acres of green space with recreational opportunities spread throughout the county.

You can see access the many parks available at:

Visitors may spend time enjoying hiking, biking, running or walking on various natural and paved trails at various park system facilities. Many play areas, fishing spots, reservable facilities, shelters and campsites, as well as a dog park are available. There is water recreation through creeking, rentable kayaks, canoes, paddleboats, and stand-up paddleboards. All allow for numerous sources of family fun!

Construction recently began on the River Center, located at 120 South Carmody Boulevard in Middletown, Ohio. The location, chosen due to its proximity to Downtown Middletown and the Great Miami River Trail, will attract visitors to the trail and usage of the AK Pavilion both of which have been assets which have been previously underutilized.

River Center Construction 2

The River Center will play an active role in the ongoing revitalization of downtown Middletown. It is expected have a positive impact on revenue generation in the region as out of town visitors, of the trail and river, will likely spend time in downtown Middletown businesses and special events, as well. This potential regional impact played a big role in the $1 Million State Capital Grant Dollars which were leveraged for the construction.

The River Center is at the trailhead for the 9-mile Great Miami River Trail, Middletown segment, that is managed MetroParks of Butler County in partnership with the City of Middletown and Miami Conservancy District. The trail will eventually be connected via Franklin to Dayton and beyond in 2020 for a total of 67 connected miles and to the south of the City of Fairfield.

River Center Rendering 01-09-18 w Title Block - Resized 20%

River Center features will include:

• 41 parking spaces

• Reservable meeting room Capacity 56

• Kitchenette

• Welcome center / pre-function space

• Restrooms

• Drinking fountain

• Program office

• Ranger office

At a total cost of $1.4 Million, with $1 Million of that supported by a capital grant from the State of Ohio, the Middletown River Center is being built by Turnbull-Wahlert Construction, Inc. The projected completion date is Summer of 2018.

A fun fact about the construction is that storm water from paved areas will be captured and infiltrated on-site, to help to keep the river clean.

A second fun fact about MetroParks is that their Public Safety team is led by Middletown’s former police Chief David VanArsdale!

The Great Miami River Trail in the project area will be closed during construction. Trail users are advised to please use Carmody Boulevard as a detour around the site.

Upcoming Special Events & Programs throughout MetroParks of Butler County include:

• Show and Tell on the Farm Thursdays 6:30 p.m. 7:30 p.m. & Sundays 2:00 p.m. 4:00 p.m. Chrisholm MetroPark Historic Farmstead

• Dog Gone Bone Hunt Sunday, March 25, 2018- Rentschler Forest MetroPark Reigart Road Area

• Kites N MPX Saturday, April 7, 2018 Voice of America MetroPark

• Garden Explorers & Junior Master Gardeners Camps Saturdays, April 28 & September 15 Chrisholm MetroPark Historic Farmstead

• Spring & Summer Camps Various dates & locations in April – September

• Big Week of Birding in Butler County Saturday, April 28 Saturday, May 5, 2018 Various times & locations around the county

• Hump Day Concert Series Wednesdays, May 30 August 22, 2018 (excluding July 4th)

• Crazy Cardboard Regatta July 14, 2018 Voice of America MetroPark

• Mud Mania August 10 & 11, 2018 Rentschler Forest MetroPark Reigart Road Area

More information about Programming and Events can be found at

City Master Plan Update

Nearly 15 years have passed since Middletown adopted its last Master Plan and a lot has changed for the City since 2005. The City achieved many of the objectives and strategies described in the 2005 Plan, and now it’s time to re-evaluate the future direction.

A Master Plan is intended to be a blueprint that will guide the development of the City and will address a number of key topics including housing, development, and revitalization. The updated Master Plan will be a graphically-rich, streamlined document that will used for marketing purposes, grant writing, as well as a tool for directing future development.

Over the last two years, the City has worked with community groups such as Middletown Moving Forward and Downtown Middletown, Inc. to host visioning meetings to determine the needs and wants of residents and stakeholders for the City’s future. The City adopted the final community visioning document in 2017 for inclusion in the new overall Master Plan.

The City adopted its new zoning code this month, which will again provide best practices currently being utilized in Ohio for city-wide development.

In 2017, the City adopted the Downtown Middletown Strategic Plan and completed a city-wide Housing Study that determined the strengths and weaknesses in Middletown’s housing stock.

In 2018, the City will be completing a new Airport Master Plan, which will lay out future development of the 50+ acres available on the airport property.

2018 will start our review of the City park system and the future return of Recreation to the city.

All of these components will serve as the framework and the majority of the focus of the work will be on overall city land use and special planning areas.

As each of the above areas are defined, one of the last pieces will be a transportation study to determine the best way to move people as pedestrians, bicyclers, and by automobile and to determine the best uses for public transit given the other priorities in the plan.

The City chose the consulting firm McBride Dale Clarion to lead the work for the Master Plan update. They were chosen based on their previous performance on work completed for the City. McBride Dale Clarion is a consulting firm based out of Cincinnati, Ohio that focuses on comprehensive and land use planning, zoning codes and development services.

McBride Dale Clarion’s Master Plan update phases:

  1. Project Understanding and Initiation
  2. Analysis and Assessment
  3. Land Use Framework
  4. Plan Development
  5. Plan Review and Adoption

As a part of the planning process, the City of Middletown has formed a twelve member volunteer Advisory Committee for the Master Plan. The overall role of the members of the Advisory Committee will be to assist with the planning process by working with city staff and consultants by being the sound board and review body for the Master Plan. Members that were nominated to serve on the committee have a wide range of expertise, and most importantly, have pride in Middletown.

Advisory Committee members include representatives from:

  • City Council
  • Planning Commission
  • Middletown City Schools
  • Cincinnati State
  • Miami University
  • AK Steel
  • Atrium Medical
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Real Estate
  • Other Business Stakeholders and Expertise

The Master Plan Advisory Committee will meet monthly starting in late February and will work with City staff and consultants over the next 10 months. The goal is to adopt the Master Plan in December 2018.

If you have any questions regarding the Middletown Master Plan Update process, please contact Ashley Combs, City Planner, at 513-425-7922 or

Middletown Development Code


On February 6, 2018 the City Council had a public hearing and a first reading on the newly drafted Middletown Development Code (formerly known as the Planning and Zoning Ordinance). City Council passed the new code at the February 20th City Council meeting, and the new code will take effect March 1, 2018.

Why are we adopting a new development code?

The City initiated the Planning and Zoning ordinance update in 2015 because our current zoning code is outdated to current practices and many provisions are almost unenforceable under Ohio law as it stands today.

Most of the City’s current zoning code was adopted in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The nature of zoning law and property rights under Ohio law has changed a lot over the past 50 years, and many of our old code sections simply were too vague or inconsistent with current Ohio law to be enforceable.

What process was used to develop the new Middletown Development Code?

For the past three years the Planning and Zoning Department worked closely with our zoning code consultant, Compass Pointe Planning, on the update of the Planning and Zoning Ordinance. Planning staff also worked with Planning Commission, the Board of Zoning Appeals, outside legal counsel and other city departments, and sought feedback from community groups such as Downtown Middletown Inc. and Middletown Moving Forward. Staff encouraged citizen input through the development code update website and hosted a public open house that showcased the new ordinance compared to the current ordinance and answered questions.

What can be expected with the new Middletown Development Code?

A fully modern development code, consistent with current Ohio law and best practices throughout the State of Ohio. Those who rely on the code for making business decisions should notice:

    1. Streamlined regulations to make it easier to invest and to do business in Middletown.
    2. That the Code addresses modern uses and zoning issues.
    3. That the new Code makes it easier to understand and use the zoning regulations and processes, with clear descriptions of what is and is not permitted.
    4. That the new Code eliminates inconsistencies and provide for clearer definitions.
    5. That the new Code allows for strict enforcement of the Development Code .

The Middletown Development Code will become effective and enforced starting March 1, 2018. One more piece of the new City Master Plan is now complete and ready for action.

If you have any questions regarding the Middletown Development Code, please contact Ashley Combs, City Planner, at 513-425-7922 or

EPA Sewer Agreement Information

Over the weekend, an inaccurate story came out regarding the Long Term Control Plan we agreed upon with the EPA. The news station who posted the article has since updated the story with an Editor’s Note, but we know there are questions and want to clarify as much as possible. 

This is all part of the Long Term Control Plan that we’ve been talking about as a city and with the EPA for over ten years. The lawsuit discussed in the story is the completion of the process, not the beginning.  The Consent Decree in the lawsuit represents the completed deal.

Every city in Ohio that was built in the same time frame as Middletown is going through this process and also has had to address these issues. That was the standard construction of sewers at the time.  It was the best practice in place at the time, over 100 years ago.  If you look at my earlier blog posts, you can see the large number of cities that have been or are going through this exact same process.  

The EPA didn’t file the suit until now because we were working together to resolve the situation.  Every Ohio city that has already executed their consent decree but hasn’t fully completed their obligations is still likely in violation in some manner with EPA regulations.

We issued a press release in December to further clarify the actions being taken: 

For Immediate Release

Agreement to Clean Water Act Proposed Consent Decree by Middletown, Ohio

Middletown, OH (December 21, 2017) — The City of Middletown, Ohio has agreed to the terms of a proposed consent decree with the United States and the State of Ohio to resolve threatened U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA enforcement claims under the Clean Water Act due primarily to combined sewer overflows (CSO’s). The proposed consent decree includes three major work components: 1.) Implementation of a Long-Term Control Plan (LTCP) to reduce CSO’s into the Great Miami River; 2.) Commitment to planned sewer system rehabilitation; and 3.) Commitment to planned waste water treatment plant (WWTP) rehabilitation. All of these components are to be implemented over 25 years (by 2043). The City’s agreement allows the City to avoid protracted, costly and disruptive federal court litigation, the results of which would be uncertain.

“This mutual agreement allows the City to prioritize critical infrastructure improvements to the sewer system and treatment plant that were already planned while improving water quality in the Great Miami River,” said City Manager Doug Adkins. “These improvements align with the City’s overall revitalization efforts to make Middletown a great place to live, work, and grow, transitioning from our bright past to our brighter future.”

Proposed Consent Decree Agreement Basics

  1. Long-Term Control Plan
  2. Construction of two large storage tanks and associated pump stations
  3. Storm Water Redirection Project including new storm sewer and pump station
  4. Green Infrastructure Project to divert storm water flow tributary to the Combined Sewer System into a regional detention basin
  5. Estimated Cost $112 million
  6. Sewer System Rehabilitation
  7. Rehabilitation of 40 miles of sewer pipewhich is at or near the end of its useful life
  8. Estimated Cost $74 million
  9. WWTP Rehabilitation
  10. Critical rehabilitation and upgrades to major treatment plant components which are necessary for the plant to remain viable over the next 25 years
  11. Estimated Cost $79 million

In addition, the City has agreed to complete a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) to significantly reduce the civil penalty for the alleged violations. The SEP includes capping of sediments in a designated section of the Hydraulic Canal adjacent to the STM/Wrenn Site. The project allows the City to obtain a “Covenant Not to Sue” from the Ohio EPA for the site under the Voluntary Action Program, which in turn will allow for future redevelopment of the site. The civil penalty has been reduced to $55,000 in consideration of this project.

“This project is a “win-win” for the City and Ohio EPA,” said Adkins. “It will create a clean, shovel-ready building site for future development consistent with the Downtown Master Plan.”

The proposed consent decree has now been filed in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. The filling will initiate a 30-day comment period. Should no significant comments be received objecting to the agreement, the US Department of Justice is expected to file a motion asking the court to enter the proposed consent decree as final and effective.


This plan helps to fix a century-old problem. It is a solution that not only solves the EPA combined sewer issue, but also upgrades our sewer plants and associated piping to maintain viability of our water and sewer infrastructure into the future. It also improves quality of the water in the river and addresses an old industrial brownfield site, making it available for redevelopment. 

2017 Year End Departmental Reports

The fourth quarter departmental reports are in. I’ll get them posted to the city web page in the next few days. In the mean time, it’s always interesting to see how much work gets done throughout the city.  Some of it is visible… some behind the scenes.

For the fourth quarter of 2017, from October through December:

Human Resources processed 80 employee evaluations, welcomed 12 new employees, processed the departure of 15 employees, and posted 4 job announcements.

The Health Department conducted inspections on 162 food service operations, investigated 35 animal bites, completed 12 indigent cremations, inspected 6 tattoo establishments, issued 850 birth certificates and issued 779 death certificates.

Code enforcement for 2017 completed 974 commercial inspections, resolving 386 violations; completed 1200 residential inspections, resolving 1,848 violations; and completed 6,417 nuisance inspections, resolving 4,334 violations.

The Law Department for the fourth quarter reviewed 71 contracts and drafted 49 pieces of legislation for City Council. The Prosecutor’s Office at the end of 2017 had 12,970 open cases including 1,099 felonies, 4,851 misdemeanors, 388 drunk driving cases, and 6,6,32 traffic cases outstanding.


Middletown Division of Police has been very active in drug enforcement over the past quarter. Part one crimes (the most serious crimes), dropped from 3,573 in 2016 to 3,217 in 2017. We had 162 less domestic violence incidents in 2017 than the previous year.  Felony drug arrest went from 396 in 2016 to 609 in 2017. Our K-9’s continue to pull drugs off the streets every day. We continued to see leveling off of overdoses as 2017 came to a close.

In the fourth quarter, the Middletown Division of Fire ran 2,393 EMS calls for service compared to 2,342 for the fourth quarter last year. We saw an uptick in calls for fire response, with 800 calls for service this year vs. 557 calls for service in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Our social media presence continues to grow. Through the end of December, the City Instagram account had 965 followers, the City’s Twitter account was followed by 1,153 people, and for the fourth quarter, the City’s Facebook page was accessed 766,170 times.

Building Inspection for the 4th quarter issued permits for 7 new single family homes valued at $1.96 million and 4 new commercial buildings totaling $4.66 million in construction value.

Public Works in the third quarter made repairs to 152 traffic signals, performed 722 lane miles of street sweeping, made repairs to 115 street signs, treated 1,394 million gallons of wastewater and produced 764 million gallons of potable water (Water Treatment Plant).  December had 6 snow events requiring 571 overtime hours for snow plowing of streets.

I am proud of all our City employees that are working hard to move this community forward. We are making progress, and that will only continue in 2018.

The full reports should be online by the end of the week!

Opiate Update

I first started talking about opiate addiction in early 2015. Here we are, three years later and I’m still talking about it.

2017 presented us with the most challenging year to date. In 2015, we were able to identify $1.5 million in city expenses directly tied to responding to the opiate crisis through law enforcement, EMS runs, Health Department costs, and municipal court expenses.

Staff is gathering the numbers for 2017, but with double the overdoses in 2017, I have to assume that the city expense responding to opiate addiction in Middletown approaches $2 million for 2017. That’s a staggering amount of resources that could have been used for additional paving or other infrastructure and quality of life options.

So what has changed since 2015? A lot. We know a lot more about opiate addiction than we did three years ago. The City will partner with Atrium Medical Center to hold our 12th Heroin Summit at the end of January. Those summits have brought the community together to produce plans that included education for the public on opiates, a needle exchange to slow the spread of HIV and Hepatitis in addicts, and a Heroin Response Team (HRT) that follows up with addicts that are treated by EMS. The HRT has referred over 250 addicts to treatment over the past year and a half. We are making a difference.

We’ve changed tactics, and of course, the addicts and dealers change to get around our tactics. During 2017, MPD partnered with the Butler County BURN Division to cooperate on drug information and arrests county-wide. We’ve formed a similar partnership with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. Three years ago, we had 1 drug dog. This year, we have 5. Those K-9’s are pulling drugs off the street daily. In 2017, we transferred 4 additional detectives to the Narcotics Division to better attack the supply and demand for drugs in the city. 2017 saw a 40% increase in drug related arrests by MPD over 2016.

MPD deals with the people involved in the drug trade. Starting in 2018, we have new software that tracks WHERE people are buying, selling and using illegal drugs. We have a Police Major whose full time job moving forward is to attack the places where this type of activity is taking place.

Our EMS crews have become very efficient in saving lives. While overdoses doubled from 2016 to 2017, the number of deaths remained the same. In other words, we responded to 400 more overdoses in 2017 and overdose deaths for 2016 and 2017 remained at 72 people per year. Hats off to a tired and VERY efficient EMS staff.

The problem, however, continues to outrun the local resources. Staff continues to evolve and adapt. We’ve been directly involved in panel discussions at the state and national level on this topic. We monitor where new funding sources and new programs are available to combat this epidemic.

Despite the high number of overdoses, I can’t imagine where we would be without the hard work in law enforcement, EMS staff, Health Department, Middletown Municipal Court and with our health care providers in the community. Unchecked, the damage would have been even worse.

We’ll continue to evolve and adapt and work to push this scourge back out of our community. We’ll keep you up to date as we do that.