By Linda Dillman
Development, annexation and rezoning continue to dominate discussion during Canal Winchester City Council sessions.
Legislative first readings were held Oct. 4 on pre-annexation and rezoning requests for 55 acres located east of Hill Road and north of Basil-Western Road, along with a community reinvestment area and school compensation agreements with Molto Canal Pointe.
Weiser Development and Sonya Poff and Mark Poff asked the city to annex the acreage from Violet Township into the city. City Development Director Lucas Haire said the request was approved by Fairfield County Commissioners on July 20.
“The annexation would take in the intersection of Kings Crossing and Hill Road,” said Haire. “It also takes in everything on Hill Road north of the existing intersection. The city would not be annexing any of Basil Western Road with this annexation.”
The applicants also asked to rezone a 51-acre portion of the land from M2 limited manufacturing in Violet Township to LM limited manufacturing, along with a 15-year, 100 percent property tax exemption. A public hearing was held following the council work session to discuss the request.
On Aug. 8, the city’s planning and zoning commission voted not to recommend the rezoning request.
According to Haire, the applicant is proposing to invest $30 million into a 464,588-square-foot building, create a minimum of 85 jobs and commit to over $3 million in payroll.
“It would more than double the number of jobs and payroll previously required,” said Haire. “The school district would be fairly compensated and we’ll receive a fair amount of revenue. This is a post 1990 agreement, so there are specific commitments associated with that.”
Haire presented the request to the Canal Winchester Local Schools superintendent and treasurer and said they were comfortable with the terms as presented. The Canal Winchester Board of Education is expected to vote on the agreement at its next meeting.
The school district would receive a minimum of more than $70,000 per year and the city would receive a minimum of $55,000.
“I wish we didn’t have to have real estate tax exemptions to have competitive buildings, but unfortunately, in central Ohio almost every community offers these for commercial space to make them competitive,” said Haire. “It’s short-term. It’s 15 years and these buildings will be around here for a very long time.”
Haire said the drop-off of tax exemptions is already happening in Canal Pointe, which was developed in the early 2000s.
“The bigger buildings out there are off of real estate tax exemptions and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in real estate taxes and hundreds of thousands of that goes to the Canal Winchester School District,” said Haire.
When asked about companies leaving an area once a tax exemption ends, Haire said the area really does not see the “jumping of buildings” so much any more. He attributed that to high leasing numbers and said, even if taxes are higher, buildings that are at least 15 years old do not have the same lease rates as a new building.
There are older buildings in Canal Pointe that lease for $3.75 a square-foot without the benefit of tax exemptions compared to newly constructed buildings, which can lease for over $5 a square foot.
When the floor opened to public comment, the homeowner of the first house north of the proposed area said a lot of development brings a lot later changes and the city should take the opportunity to slow down the growth of warehouses.
However, farm owners and veterinarians Alec Land and Rona Shapiro both supported the rezoning.
Council also approved legislation indicating services the city would provide for the Schacht annexation. While moving forward with the second reading of an agreement with the Joint Recreation District, council plans to discuss financial issues more in depth at the next meeting when Finance Director Amanda Jackson is in attendance.