By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor
Grove City Council unanimously voted against a pre-annexation agreement for a property on Rensch Road in Jackson Township.
This action took place at the July 17 council meeting.
The pre-annexation agreement stated that the developer, Smart Citizens LLC, and the property owner, the heirs of the Trapp family, want to annex 89.3 acres of land south of Rensch Road into the city. According to the legislation, the intended use of the property would be for a data center.
Glen Duggar, an attorney for the developer, addressed community concerns. He said the developer planned to change the building from two stories to a one-story facility. In response to questions concerning noise, Duggar said the data center would be located on the southernmost portion of the site. The distance, combined with planned noise barriers, should quell noise concerns, he said. Duggar also said the site would not generate a lot of traffic.
Kyle Rauch, the development director for Grove City, said city staff were supportive of the plan as it aligns with the Grove City 2050 planning guide.
“This project opens up the possibility of new industry,” said Rauch.
Rauch explained that the company that planned to put in a data center would receive a 15-year (85 percent) tax abatement, which he said would open a revenue stream for the city, the township, and the school district.
The development director said the South-Western City Schools District currently receives $1,200 a year from the Rensch Road property in taxes. During the abatement period, the district could get up to $340,000. That number would increase to $1 million after the 15-year tax abatement burns off, Rauch said.
According to Rauch, Jackson Township would receive about $300,000 per year, whereas it currently gets $32,000 from the property. The city would receive funds from the employees who would earn an average of $100,000 per year.
Residents surrounding the property have voiced their concerns to council members and city administrators.
Christi McClellan has spoken at numerous council meetings against the proposal. She lives near the property and simply said, “We don’t want it.”
Penny Adams lives right next to the property. She said she looks out to her backyard and sees deer, duck, and all sorts of wildlife. She said she does not want to see a data center.
“There is no benefit for the surrounding residents,” said Adams.
Councilman Randy Holt said he spent his career in a data center, and it does not generate much noise. He said he would be confident in the city’s ability to develop the property, but less than confident with Jackson Township developing it.
“I guess you (the residents) want 300 homes and traffic there instead of one data center, which makes no sense to me,” said Holt. “You can see many terrible examples of Jackson Township development.”
Holt did vote against the pre-annexation agreement, as did all the other council members.
Council president Ted Berry said he is not against annexation; he just believes this is the wrong location for this project. He said the city is planning to have a research facility across from the county landfill on State Route 665, which would be a more appropriate location for a data center.
Christine Houk said, “I can’t say this will be an asset to the community. We just don’t know enough.”
Even though council voted against the pre-annexation agreement, the annexation legislation will be on the agenda for the Aug. 7 council meeting.