By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester’s first informal Conversation with Council on Oct. 8 in the Frances Steube Community Center found residents interested in and voicing questions on many topics, including development and policing provided by Madison Township.
The development and policing issues parallel recent discussions held during recent Canal Winchester City Council meetings.
“This is the first time we’ve been able to do this,” said Councilman Bob Clark, who moderated the Conversation with Council session, which invited citizens to share their concerns and comments.“We’re here for community issues. We want as many comments as possible.”
The first citizen speaker wanted clarification of the status of three properties annexed the previous night into the city as part of an upcoming development in a Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) north of U.S. 33 and bordered by Rager and Bixby roads and the cemetery. The CRA resolution was approved on Oct. 7 by council, which later prompted questions on abatements.
“I know people sometimes get up in arms about abatements, but that’s a level playing field with other developments,” said Council President Bruce Jarvis. “This area (U.S. 33 North) was identified as an outpost. The CRA is to stimulate some development there.”
Clark said post-1994 changes in state legislation now bring the school system into the conversation before abatements are approved.
“It now allows the school system a little more say,” said Clark, who pointed out a recent post-1994 CRA created for land located behind the Gender Road Kroger store. “We’re sharing income tax with the school district on the OPUS development.”
Canal Winchester Board of Education President Kevin Butler said the school district has benefited from industrial growth.
“The issue we’re dealing with right now is we’re technically out of pre-1994 land at Canal Pointe,” said Clark. “We had to look at other places to develop.”
Councilman Mike Coolman said, while there is still a lot of land still for sale by private owners, the price points are very high.
“You really do need the revenue from industry—it makes it easier on the taxpayer,” added Councilwoman Jill Amos.
Clark said that approximately 78 percent of Canal Winchester’s revenue comes from income tax paid by people working in the city.
“Houses don’t really pay for the city,” said Clark.
When Butler asked about the prospects for new residential development, Jarvis said the focus is on industrial growth, although he said there are reportedly “600 to 700 homes in the pipeline from decisions in the past, but it may take 10 years to build up to that.”
When the discussion turned to Madison Township police coverage, Mayor Mike Ebert said taxes are being paid directly to the township and not dispersed by the city.
“Money is spread out over the entire township,” said Ebert. “It’s going to take residents to go to Madison Township trustees and talk to them. That’s where it starts. The city is not paying Madison Township. You are.”