Butler County board denies Land of Illusion expansion proposal that included hotel, rides

A proposed expansion plan for the Land of Illusion entertainment facility in Madison Twp. was denied Monday by the county Rural Zoning Commission.

About 35 people made comments with several sending comments via email, according to county Planning Administrator Zeb Acuff. He said nearly all of the comments were in opposition with many concerned about safety, road capacity and increased traffic.

Acuff said the Butler County Commission will review the recommendation and decision of the Rural Zoning Commission sometime in early July. The county commission can accept, modify or reject the recommendation from the Rural Zoning Commission.

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Owner Brett Oakley was seeking the zone change for 227.5 acres on the north side of Thomas Road, east of Ohio 4, and west of Franklin-Madison Road. The project was to include a family entertainment facility, campground, water parks, hotel, an outdoor adventure area, amusement rides and other entertainment activities.

Madison Twp. Trustees Alan Daniel and Brian McGuire issued a letter of opposition to the Rural Zoning Commission. Speaking for the township, Daniel said Thomas Road would “be negatively affected by increased traffic jabs and road blockage, excessive wear and tear, and smooth access to Route 4.”

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Oakley said this was the first time he has attempted to do a Planned Unit Development project and envisions it as something similar to a Kalahari resort with a 400- to 500-room hotel. The first phase of the proposed project would be a campground for families.

Oakley said the project could create 400 to 500 new jobs for the area and the investment would be between $75 million to $250 million. He wants to make the park a year-round destination location for visitors.

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Oakley said Land of Illusion started in 1997 on Meyers Road as the Middletown Haunted Trail, which was a fundraiser for the Madison Twp. Fire Department.

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