Pickerington agrees to Wright Road annexation

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Pickerington City Council approved an annexation agreement with Violet Township for 3.3 acres near the northwest corner of Wright and Diley Roads.

Last year, the township rezoned the property from residential to commercial. Plans call for the old farmhouse on the property to become office space with more office buildings added.

Pickerington will reimburse Violet Township $5,000 for the expense involved with rezoning the property.

The township will receive 20 percent of the first $500,000 that the city collects from income tax, 15 percent of the income tax collected on the next $500,000 and 10 percent of all income tax collected over $1 million.

By law, townships cannot collect income tax for themselves. However, the township will continue to collect its 1.7 mill road and bridge levy.

If in the future the levy ceases to exist the agreement states, "the City and Township shall mutually agree upon the continued provision and payment for the maintenance services required hereunder."

In exchange, Violet Township will plow snow on the portion of Stemen Road that lies within the city, unless, according to the ordinance "maintenance proves in the future to be less efficient, then the city and the township will agree to amend the provision."

Pickerington resident Bruce Engelhardt urged council to vote against the annexation because he said the township illegally rezoned the property.

Engelhardt provided each council member with a copy of a page from the book, Ohio Real Estate Law. The page referred to illegal spot zoning. A graphic on the page depicted a residential area surrounded on all four sides by industrial and commercial properties.

Engelhardt compared the book’s illustration to the Wright Road property. He said that new business park would be surrounded on all four sides by residential areas.

Council passed the annexation agreement by a vote of 5-2 at its Oct. 2 meeting. The dissenting voters, council members Ted Hackworth and Christie Hammond, said they could not support the ordinance because it gave the township too much of the city’s money.

Hammond said the agreement does not detail an end point to the city paying the township.

"It goes on forever," she said.

Councilman Michael Sabatino said he does not love the agreement, but it demonstrates that the two entities can move forward together to attract new businesses. In addition, it helps Violet and Pickerington "get out of a cycle of litigation."

The remaining council members said the agreement displayed a willingness to cooperate important to future endeavors such as the U.S. Route 33 joint economic agreement.

Violet Township Trustee Gary Weltlich said he did not know what version of the annexation agreement the council approved because as of 2 p.m. the day of the vote, the agreement remained fluid.

Weltlich since received a copy of the council’s version of the agreement to review before the township vote on Oct. 3.

The U.S. Route 33 agreement joins the cities of Canal Winchester, Lancaster and Pickerington with the townships of Violet and Bloom in an effort to cooperatively develop the area one mile on either side of U.S. Route 33. The area extends from the Fairfield County line to the other side of the Lancaster bypass.

Elected officials from the five governments have been meeting for several months to work on the agreement.

Other Pickerington news

•Council passed the first reading of an ordinance allowing the finance department to write-off unpaid water bills from the last 17 years. The total of the unpaid bills is $46,192.60.

Many of the bills were not paid because the residents moved. At least one person left a leak and another intentionally left the water run to be vindictive, Finance Director Linda Fersch said.

Because the water bills used to be collected quarterly the problems could not be addressed until they became large. Now the bills are collected monthly. In addition, the city is considering having new residents come to city hall to request water services. At city hall, more personal information could be collected to make bill collecting easier, Fersch said.

•Council passed a first reading to have the city manager apply for a $500,000 Ohio Public Works Grant for improvements to the intersection of State Route 256 and Refugee Road. If received the grant will supplement a $2.2 million grant from ODOT, but the city would still need to contribute $1.5 million to the project.

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