By Katelyn Sattler
Obetz City Council approved more legislation regarding the Buckstone development at its May 23 meeting.
The Buckstone development is on the former Younkin farm, located near the intersection of Lockbourne and Rathmell roads. It is a proposed upscale development of about 250 single family houses with 14 to 15 acres of open space, and a playground. The proposed development will have walkable paths, a swim club that will be available for all Obetz residents to use, and a park.
Obetz City Administrator Rod Davisson described these two pieces of legislation that were passed by council. The first involves the tax increment finance (TIF) with the PILOT (payments in lieu of taxes) payments. The PILOT payments are where the people have to make payments that are equivalent to the taxes they would have otherwise paid and then get distributed.
Recently the Franklin County Commissioners opposed instituting the TIF because they felt it would reduce revenue for county social services agencies.
“This is what normally happens,” said Obetz Mayor Angela Kirk. “We have to go back and sit down with them and come to an agreement. It doesn’t delay what we’re doing with Buckstone.”
The second ordinance concerns a 15-year Community Reinvestment Area which abates the property taxes and that is immediately replaced with a New Community Authority charge, which is the equivalent of the tax money that was abated.
“That means if the house had taxes of $5,000, we wipe out those taxes of $5,000 and then immediately institute a charge of $5,000,” said Davisson. “And what that does is allow a city to redirect the tax money that would have gone to other political subdivisions, like the schools, the township, and the county, and then the city is able to use that money to build that infrastructure that gets the development going.”
That is for years 1 to 15.
“But at years 16 to 30, it’s done through tax increment financing,” said Davisson. “And so what you get is for 30 years, people who buy houses there don’t have to pay property taxes, but they immediately have to pay an amount equal to the property taxes plus another 5 mills. Again, if your property tax was going to be $5,000, you don’t have to pay that tax of $5,000, but you have to pay $5,000 plus another 5 mills. That’s another $1,000 and you have to pay that for the entire 30 years. And then we collect that money and then we’re able to distribute pieces of it to the school district as they need it, to the township, to the JVS, and some to the county. All those are made through contracts that we make with those political subdivisions.”
He said, under Ohio law, currently that is the only way that new residential housing can be responsibly built.
“The law isn’t really set up for cities to build residential housing, because cities don’t make much money on houses,” said Davisson. “They make very little off of property taxes. Last year, our property tax collection for the entire city was about $250,000. Our income tax collection last year was $15 million. It’s a huge difference. The only way you can do that is if you build them and you take everybody’s tax money, meaning the school, the county, the township. The law allows you to do this. You redirect that money to the city, you use that money to build the roads, the water lines, the parks, all the stuff that you need there, but you only get 30 years to do it. Then at the end of 30 years, all of those people listed, the schools, the township. They get all the tax money back.”
Davisson said officials estimate that the school district in year 31 would be making about $10 million a year from this project. He said right now the school district is getting about $10,000 a year from the project.
“So that same land, 30 years from now, will generate $10 million a year for the school district,” said Davisson. “And then that money lasts forever, right? As long as those buildings are there, they keep collecting that money. There are plenty of cities out there that aren’t doing it that way. And I think they’re going to regret that, only because they’re going to find out that houses don’t generate enough tax money to take care of the roads, the sidewalks and all those kinds of things. Our setup is different.”
He said, in 50 years, based on conservative estimates, the school district will make more than $1 billion on the taxes that arise.
“The township will make hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Davisson. “Compared to the $40,000 a year they make now on that farm land, it is a huge difference.”
Planning and Zoning Commission action
By Katelyn Sattler
The Obetz Planning & Zoning Commission approved the rezoning and preliminary development plan for the 14.6 acre Vargas property on Williams Road, located east of Tata Excavation and west of Schneider Trucking.
Rebecca Mott, attorney with Plank Law Firm, LPA, and Derik Leary, P.E., Civil Engineer with Kimley-Horn, represented the applicant, Stonemont Financial Group, at the commission’s May 11 meeting.
The application is for two warehouse office flex buildings, which would include some storage of light industrial such as packaging, processing, loading, unloading, and transportation. The rezoning would be as a planned industrial district.
Obetz Community Services Director Stacey Boumis said she didn’t think permitted use manufacturing was appropriate. Some manufacturing might be acceptable with a conditional use permit, but not things that would emit odor, dust, fumes, or smoke. Mayor Angela Kirk requested no paper products be produced there.
Boumis wants to be sure nothing is going to be put on the property that would interrupt the Fortress operation nearby.
The maximum height of the warehouses allowed is 42 feet. Parking in the northwest corner has been eliminated. Landscaping has been added to the Williams Road frontage. Truck and trailer parking should not be visible from Williams Road.
An accessory use of the building is semi-truck and trailer service station repair that Mott said is necessary.
“Let’s say you have a couple of trucks and they need some repair,” said Mott. “Those couple trucks should be able to stay on the property and obtain the repair on it, not have to be moved away to some other location to be repaired.”
Officials said the farm operation to the east is staying and the zoning of this plan isn’t applicable to that area.
“I’m not the one to disrupt any of these operations,” said Boumis.
Screening and landscaping is necessary to ensure that whatever is happening on this site doesn’t impact the farming operation.
“The bottom part of this project was proposed years ago to be an expansion of Schneider Trucking, but they never pulled the trigger, so those site plans have expired,” said Boumis. “At that time, we made them do fencing and screen along that entire length, so I would expect that to occur here, too.”
A possible wetland was flagged. If it is a wetland, a mitigation plan is needed.
Planning and Zoning Commissioner Dan Raver questioned Mott about the use and potential tenants of the warehouse. He doesn’t want a trucking company coming in.
Boumis said, “The land where Schneider trucking is located, which is immediately to the east, is owned by Stonemont Financial Group, which is also the applicant for this rezoning. So I think that that’s part of the concern. Will Schneider Trucking, because it’s connected, start to expand over? That cannot happen.”
Mott was unaware that SFG also owned the nearby Schneider Trucking. She asked Boumis to provide language for the development text to avoid that type of use.
There is a need for a development agreement on the woods to the south of the railroad track, which will be discussed at Obetz City Council.
There were also some previous conversations with administration on additional open space and trees by the ponds.
The rezoning and preliminary development agreement will now go to council.