Against recommendation of the county prosecutor, engineer and administrator, the Union County Commissioners have refused to accept a negotiated infrastructure agreement for the Jacquemin Farms Development.
At a hearing Tuesday, the commissioners voted 1-1 on a proposed infrastructure agreement that called for the developer to contribute $1.1 million in cash and infrastructure improvements for Hyland-Croy Road.
Commissioner Charles Hall has been out of the office for a period of time with an illness. Because of the tie vote, with Commissioner Steve Stolte voting in favor of the agreement and Commissioner Gary Lee voting against, the motion failed to pass.
Schottenstein Real Estate Group intends to build 300 luxury apartments, as well as a 250-bed assisted and independent living facility on the property. Officials said that between capacity fees, permitting and inspections, the development would pay about $4-million to the City of Marysville to provide water and sewer, with additional usage charges billed monthly to the residents.
Over the course of several years, a series of traffic studies were conducted to determine the developer’s legal obligation to fund road improvements. According to the study, the developer’s legal obligation would result in paying $512,000.
“We know there is some challenges in front of you on the corridor,” said Don Hunter, speaking for Schottenstein. “We are putting forth $834,000 above and beyond our obligation.”
The completed traffic impact study indicated the development would need a signal light at the intersection of Park Mill Drive. Additionally, the study indicated a turn lane would eventually be necessary, but not immediately.
According to the agreement, the developer would have paid for both the traffic signal and the turn lane. The total cost of the traffic signal, and as much as $100,000 of the turn lane, could be used to offset the $1.1 million contribution. The remainder will be given to the county as a contribution to be used for additional needs identified as part of the traffic impact study.
In addition, the developer agreed to pay for the acquisition of land to expand Hyland-Croy Road at an estimated cost of $250,000.
During the meeting, the commissioners expressed frustration they were not included in the tax agreement between Jerome Township and the developer.
The agreement would have allowed the developer to pay for certain additional public improvements and infrastructure using tax dollars.
“I think clearly Jerome Township didn’t care anything about damages done to the taxpayers of this county. That’s pretty much undebatable,” Lee said.
Attorney Laura Comek, representing the developers, said Ohio law details what those taxpayer funds may be used for.
She said state law allows the township to negotiate the economic development agreement.
“The rail that this train is running on is prescribed by Ohio law. To the extent that there are things we don’t exactly like about any given law, I understand that, but the township was well within it’s legal authority to set up this tool so the property can be developed in the township,” Comek said.
Lee said for 15 years, he has required developers to make infrastructure contributions.
Comek said the project is making additional contributions and fronting money for infrastructure improvements above and beyond those legally required. She asked the commissioners for a legal basis for requiring an additional payment.
“I think that if you are a community-minded group, you would see that it is right that Schottenstein pay something out of its own pocket,” Lee responded.
Hunter explained the project has dragged for more than six years while Dublin, Marysville, Jerome Township, Union County and residents fought among themselves. He said the developer has paid for those delays and has millions already into the project before any ground is broke.
He said there is concern that at this point, the project will not make money and the only reason they have stayed with it is a commitment the Schottenstein Family made to the Catholic Dioceses.
“If we had to do it all over again, we would not have done it this way. We would never have gone down this road,” Hunter said.
Comek said the economic agreement with Jerome Township is separate issue from the traffic study and should not be considered when approving the infrastructure agreement.
County Administrator Tim Hansley agreed there is a philosophical argument about how much a developer should be required to contribute above their actual cost. He said the agreement is “between them and the township.” He said the funding mechanism is not a question to be considered during this process.
“From the legal standpoint…they are meeting our legal obligation and they are more than meeting it, so we felt this was a pretty good negotiation from our point of view as staff,” Hansley said.
Officials are unsure what happens next. In the past, the Logan-Union-Champaign Regional Planning Commission has not approved projects that do not have an approved infrastructure agreement.
Officials have said they do not know if that approval is required to have the project move forward.
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