Madison Twp. residents plan to fight proposed Land of Illusion expansion ‘tooth and nail’

Land of Illusion Adventure Park on Thomas Road in Madison Township has Aqua Adventures park in summer months, Haunted Scream Park in the fall and a Christmas Glow in the winter. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
Land of Illusion Adventure Park on Thomas Road in Madison Township has Aqua Adventures park in summer months, Haunted Scream Park in the fall and a Christmas Glow in the winter. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

MADISON TWP. — A group of Madison Twp. residents said the drawbacks of a proposed expansion of Land of Illusion Adventure Park outweigh the benefits.

Increased traffic, late-night noise, need for additional public safety, financial stain to the township, reduced water pressure and potential drop in property values are the major reasons they’re against the expansion, they said.

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Nine residents gathered this week at the former Poasttown Elementary School to discuss their concerns with the Journal-News.

“This ain’t the place for this out here,” said Matt Richardson, a Madison Twp. resident. “We will fight this tooth and nail.”

That fight has been on going for months and will continue until a public hearing on the expansion can be held. Butler County commissions were scheduled to consider the $109 million, phased expansion plan last week, but the meeting was cancelled because commissioners Cindy Carpenter, Don Dixon and T.C. Rogers had the coronavirus.

Another public hearing was rescheduled for Monday, but County Administrator Judi Boyko received a letter from the developer’s attorney, Scott Phillips, on Friday asking to postpone the hearing.

Land of Illusion owner Brett Oakley wants to rezone 206 acres across eight parcels off Thomas Road to a Business Planned Unit Development from the current agriculture, residential and general business classifications. He wants to make Land of Illusion a year-round facility with additional family activities, camping sites and a hotel.

Oakley said the project could create 400 to 500 jobs for the area and the investment would be between $75 million to $250 million.

He believes expanding the entertainment complex would complement Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill, the indoor sports and convention center facility being built in Hamilton. He thinks Land of Illusion could offer options for families visiting Spooky Nook.

“We want to create something good,” he said earlier. “Bring people to Butler County and help Middletown and Madison Twp.”

He said the complex would provide “long-term, reoccurring revenue” for the region.

The Butler County Planning Commission and the county Rural Zoning Commission have denied the rezoning request.

What Oakley opened as a weekend Halloween haunted house attraction has turned into an entertainment facility with additional plans that will create more potential problems for the residents and the rural community, residents said. Since opening a Haunted Scream Park, Oakley has added Aqua Adventures park in summer months and a Christmas Glow in the winter.

Richardson said the proposal could bring as many as 600,000 visitors a year to Land of Illusion and that would overwhelm the township of 8,500 residents with a volunteer fire department.

The residents said they have a difficult time sleeping because of the late-night concerts and the traffic makes it difficult to travel on Ohio 4.

Robin Rook, a member of Full Gospel Outreach Church, 6898 Middletown Germantown Road, said it’s “nearly impossible” to get in and out of the church parking lot on Sundays because of traffic at Land of Illusion.

Ted Hipsher, who has lived in the township for 30 years, said his property on Franklin-Madison Road, frequently gets flooded because of the overflow of water from the Land of Illusion property.

“It’s only going to get worse,” Hipsher said, showing pictures of water running in his backyard.

Richardson said if Oakley could reduce the noise at Land of Illusion, manage the traffic better and not expand, residents “could probably live with it.”

Rook added: “We chose to live out here for a reason.”

Staff writer Denise G. Callahan contributed to this report.

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