Pickerington & Violet work on annexation agreement

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Pickerington City Council discussed a proposed annexation agreement with Violet Township for 3.3 acres near the northwest corner of Wright and Diley roads at its Aug. 7 meeting.

 

If both Pickerington City Council and the Violet Township trustees pass the legislation, the partnership would begin in October.

According to the agreement, Pickerington would give the township 10 percent of the income taxes collected from the property.  Violet Township’s 1.7 mill road and bridge levy would be applied to the property and Pickerington would reimburse the township $2,500 for expenses related to rezoning hearings.

A brick farmhouse on the property will be refurbished as an office building and approximately 22,000 square feet of additional office space would be constructed, Councilman Ted Hackworth said.

"We’re giving away 75 to 80 percent of the property taxes and what are we getting in return?" Hackworth asked.

In return, the township would plow snow from a half-mile portion of Stemen Road that belongs to the city, Council President Keith Smith said. Earlier versions of the agreement gave the township a larger percentage of the income taxes.

Violet Township needed to provide a service to the city in exchange for the income tax, according to Pickerington City Manage Judith Gilleland.  The township decided to plow Stemen Road because the it plans to erect a maintenance building on Stemen Road.

"My personal reason for supporting the agreement is to exhibit willingness by this body to create a spirit of cooperation," Councilman Michael Sabatino said. "It will pan out over time whether it is a good investment or a bad investment."

"This goes above and beyond one central agreement," Mayor David Shaver said.  "We need to keep going to show we can work with other entities."

Impact fee reimbursements

Council considered refunding impact fees for two new business developments. 

Both Windmiller Square Office Condominiums and Barnyard Primitives, Inc. filed paperwork with the city to begin building before the council enacted impact fees. Slow processing on the city’s part delayed the projects and each paid the fees, Smith said.

The proposed ordinances would reimburse both businesses 50 percent of the impact fees they paid. Each business would receive additional refunds for improvements they made to the city such as installing storm drains.

 

The total refund to Windmiller Square would be 100 percent and the total refund to Barnyard Primitives would be 75 percent.

Councilwoman Heidi Riggs said granting reimbursements to these two companies would open the city to others who would "knock on the door to ask for their 50 percent refund."

 

Tree planting prohibition proposal

Also before council was a proposal to prohibit certain property owners from planting trees in their front and side yards.

"A squabble between two property owners is the genesis of this and we were able to find a few other similar properties as well," Smith said.  "Anytime you purchase a house, you know exactly where the property lines are. The standard of public interest over the rights of an individual property owner is not met."

Smith said the council should not enter into a disagreement between two neighbors.

"I am a firm believer in individual property rights, but the city is in a position to significantly alter values of neighboring properties due to the unique situation of this plot," Councilman Jeff Fix said. "A row of trees would detrimentally affect land value. I hope we can find in our hearts to protect all property owners and pass this."

"It is wrong to dictate what someone else can do with their own property,"  Sabatino said.  "A person who owns property should not be influenced by what their neighbor sees."

Sponsoring legislation

In a special work session Aug. 7 to revise the Pickerington administrative code, council considered ending the practice of members sponsoring legislation.

Having committees sponsor legislation rather than individuals removes politics from the process, Fix said.

 

Law Director Philip Hartmann said some resolutions or ordinances could have six or seven sponsors if everyone added their name to it.

"We see a lot of jockeying over who sponsors a piece of legislation," City Manager Judith Gilleland said.

"Most cities don’t sponsor legislation.  Council here does a lot of micro-management of the staff," Hartmann said.

The benefit of council members sponsoring an ordinance or resolution is that they take ownership of that legislation, however there are less politics if staff members introduce legislation instead, Gilleland said.

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