Hara Arena rezoning delayed as city considers what to allow there

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dayton Daily News reporters Chris Stewart and Josh Sweigart — joined at times by Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs — are traveling the length of the largest of the 2019 Memorial Day tornadoes. It tore a path across Montgomery County, impacting thousands of homes and businesses. We are gathering people’s stories and investigating obstacles to recovery. This story is part of that coverage. Go here for the full project.


Trotwood officials are working on a list of restrictions to what kind of business could operate at the Hara Arena site before they vote to rezone the property.

The Trotwood planning commission will vote on planned uses for the property on Nov. 26 after unanimously tabling a rezoning request on Oct. 22, according to Jung-Han Chen, the city’s planning and development director.

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“We want to make sure there are uses that are appropriate and that uses that are not appropriate shouldn’t be developed on the site,” he said.

Property owners Tax Redevelopment LLC are requesting the property be rezoned from recreational use to light industry. Mike Heitz, who is with the company, said they have people interested in the property and are eager to clean up tornado damage but are paralyzed until the rezoning is approved.

SPECIAL PROJECT: Walking the Path of the Storm

Chen said examples of uses the city has concerns with include self-storage, since Trotwood already has a glut of self-storage facilities. Another allowable use under a light industrial zoning would be a junkyard, which he said the city doesn’t want on that property because it’s a gateway to Trotwood.

It appears to Heitz the city wants to hold off on making any decisions on the property until after the Nov. 5 elections, he said, which includes races for mayor and city council.

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Asked if he was concerned about the delay or possible property restrictions, Heitz said, “We don’t have any problems with it or anything.”

The arena sits on 130 acres. It closed in 2016 after serving as a performance and event space for more than 50 years.

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Parts of its roof and exterior were ripped off by an EF4 tornado that tore across Montgomery County on Memorial Day this year. Drivers on Shiloh Springs Road today can still see exposed framing and piles of debris.

Tax Redevelopment LLC estimated in forms filed with the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office that said the tornado did $7.5 million in damage to the property. That estimate is based on the cost of rebuilding the arena, according to company officials. Th company said most of the frame of the building is salvageable if the buyer wants to build on it.

Dayton Daily News reporters Chris Stewart and Josh Sweigart — joined by Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs — recently visited the site and talked to neighbors as part of a special project walking the path of the tornado and assessing obstacles to recovery. Look for a full report in an upcoming Dayton Daily News.

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Tornado recovery

The Dayton Daily News is investigating obstacles to recovery for survivors of this year’s Memorial Day tornadoes, and exploring opportunities for our region to rebuild stronger. As part of this effort, reporters Josh Sweigart and Chris Stewart, along with Storm Center 7’s Chief Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs are walking the path of the largest tornado that touched down that night. Together they are getting a close look at the damage and talking to survivors. Find our coverage at DaytonDailyNews.com/Tornado.

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