The proposed annexation of approximately 47.5 acres near the intersection of Diley and Busey roads is, for now, on hold as Pickerington and Violet Township work out a road maintenance agreement.

The proposed annexation of approximately 47.5 acres near the intersection of Diley and Busey roads is, for now, on hold as Pickerington and Violet Township work out a road maintenance agreement.

On July 23, a real estate agent representing three property owners seeking to annex the undeveloped land at the northwest corner of the Diley-Busey intersection withdrew the petition from consideration by the Fairfield County commissioners.

According to the agent, John McGory, the property owners still wish to annex the land, currently in Violet Township, to Pickerington.

However, he said the matter temporary has been placed on hold so unresolved issues can be worked out over who will be responsible for maintaining Diley Road between Hill and Busey roads.

"(The withdrawal) really had nothing to do with our plans," McGory said. "The Fairfield County engineer sent us a letter and generally, there were concerns around the maintenance of the road - who was going to take care of it.

"We're not really going to get involved too much in that. (The annexation petitioners) all are on board and everybody who signed the petition wants this to go through," McGory said. "We're confident it will get resolved."

Approximately 42 of the 47.46 acres in question are owned by Marian Eichhorn, who agreed to annex the land to Pickerington after the city used eminent domain to take a portion of her property to widen Diley Road. It was one of 105 parcels the city purchased in advance of widening the roadway from two to five lanes.

Approximately five acres included in the original annexation petition are owned by Howard Kerr and Brenda Brubaker.

On July 6, Pickerington City Council unanimously approved a measure stipulating the city would provide police, refuse and water services to the land, if it were annexed to the city. As a result of a pre- annexation agreement, Canal Winchester would provide sewer services to the land, should the annexation be approved by Fairfield County commissioners.

A day after the council's action, Violet Township trustees voted unanimously to object to the annexation proposal on the grounds that one of the petition signers, Marian Eichhorn's son, Phillip, wasn't authorized to make decisions regarding the land.

Since that time, township officials were provided proof that Phillip Eichhorn has his mother's power of attorney, so the township no longer objected to the annexation on that issue.

Township officials also submitted a draft annexation agreement to the city, which said Violet Township would not object to the annexation if it had representation on a committee that will review land-use plans for the undeveloped property.

They also sought assurances that Pickerington would maintain Diley between Hill and Busey roads, including traffic control and traffic control devices, as well as all ice and snow removal, paving and mowing of right-of-way areas.

Bill Yaple, Violet Township director of operations, said the city currently is maintaining the stretch of Diley Road, but the township and the county seek written guarantees that Pickerington will continue to do so if the annexation is approved by county commissioners.

"The law says we need some sort of road maintenance agreement," Yaple said.

Pickerington City Council's finance committee was expected to discuss the township's proposal on Wednesday, July 28, after ThisWeek's press time.

City manager Bill Vance said Pickerington is hopeful it can strike a cooperative agreement with the township following those discussions by council members.

"It appears we're definitely headed in that direction," Vance said. "It makes sense to all involved to work together on issues of regional importance."

At their July 20 meeting, various council members also indicated they support reaching an agreement that would allow the annexation to move forward.

Council President pro tempore Tricia Sanders said the township's proposal was a "step in the right direction," and Councilman Gavin Blair said he had "no problem with it."

"I'm also very interested in working with the township to help our area grow," Councilman Tony Barletta added.

The land in question is viewed as an important development piece for the greater Pickerington-Violet Township-Canal Winchester region.

In addition to being undeveloped, the land is near the recently opened Diley Ridge Medical Center. City officials repeatedly have said they hope to attract medical-related and other professional offices to the area that would complement the medical center, and preliminary plans from the property owners indicate they seek development consistent with those plans.

"We want to get this done by the end of the year," McGory said. "We think it's a great piece of property that has a world of potential for all the parties involved.

"That's the front doorstep for the city of Pickerington. It's a commercial piece, and we think it could do a lot of good for that area."