CW considers JEDD

A cooperative agreement guiding the establishment of a Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) is moving closer to fruition following deliberations between communities bordering the U.S. 33 corridor.

Canal Winchester Law Director Gene Hollins updated Canal Winchester Council members on the JEDD’s progress during a committee of the whole meeting Nov. 24.

"We’ve been having pretty good joint discussions with Violet Township, Pickerington, and on and off again with Bloom Township and Lancaster," Hollins said, "and a lot of discussion on the CEDA area and joint utility areas, which are not in the JEDD.

"We can’t really do any of this until we get the Thornton-Snyder annexation finished up and we’re waiting for that. For the fourth time, we have a favorable opinion on Thornton-Snyder and, unless they get a new stay from one of the courts, you’ll see an ordinance Dec. 1 to actually accept the annexation.
"However, the last time we talked with attorneys for Mrs. Thornton, I think they intended to obtain a stay to try and get into the Supreme Court, basically because it doesn’t cost Mrs. Thornton a dime to keep trying and Pickerington is on the hook to pay her legal bills. If no court issues a stay between now and Dec. 1, we’ll have the opportunity to accept the annexation."

Hollins thought issues associated with JEDD discussions were finally distilled down to a simple few and, as recently as two weeks ago, a joint meeting was held with Canal Winchester, Pickerington, and Fairfield County. Concerns involved responsibility for utility service, a two percent income tax, and potential annexation by a party outside of the agreement.

If opportunities arise for the creation of a JEDD, all involved parties would enter into cooperative negotiations with one another and share revenues and costs associated with the JEDD. Governments cannot create a JEDD on private property identified for commercial and/or industrial development. Residential development is not permitted in a JEDD. The term of the agreement, which is administered by a five-member board, is 30 years.

Regarding utility service, Hollins said, "Honestly, I don’t think we have a lot of overlap. If this JEDD is successful, the county is the utility provider and can roll out the utilities hand-in-hand with the developer. There’s a thought the two percent income tax will be a disincentive to development, but a good portion of the income tax is where infrastructure to service the area would be funded. If that premise (disincentive) were true, we would have no development up at Canal Pointe because everybody would be looking in the township to avoid the two percent income tax, but that’s still out there."

Addressing involvement of non-contract municipalities, Hollins said all contract parties agree they will not annex into the JEDD area, but if an outside entity decides to pursue annexation, Canal Winchester, Pickerington, and other members of the JEDD will oppose the action.

Emphasizing the development district contract is a template, Hollins stressed the agreement does not establish a JEDD. A development district is created at the request of a property owner, who petitions to create the district and anyone within the area has the right to sign a document stating they are not interested in joining the petition.

"We’re not creating a JEDD over a huge swath of an area down 33," said Hollins. "We’re not going to create a JEDD agreement until we have a signed petition from somebody. We want to make sure there is the support for this, but all we’re asking for is the authority in the future, if and when we get a signed petition from a landowner. If we never get that, there will never be a signed agreement."

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