Delaware County commissioners on Aug. 16 approved land acquisition and real estate consulting agreements for the continuing extension of Sawmill Parkway.

Delaware County commissioners on Aug. 16 approved land acquisition and real estate consulting agreements for the continuing extension of Sawmill Parkway.

County economic development officer Gus Comstock said the work was important to the continuing growth of industry in the county and was something that was expected by existing businesses.

"The obvious question is, 'What's the next step?'" Comstock said. "Will it be Bunty Station and Route 42 or Route 42 and Section Line? There are two companies that moved there with the understanding that Sawmill Parkway would eventually go past there. It's about transportation for them."

Comstock said the county needed roadways to provide easy traffic flow for shipping.

"It's another north-south connector, and Sawmill is the connector for Delaware to Dublin and that's important to the county."

"The route is determined and established, but the question is whether the next phase stops at Route 42 or whether it goes all the way to Section Line Road," county engineer Chris Bauserman told ThisWeek. "The decision is when the piece from 42 to Section Line is built. It will be a financial question and a development-driven question. A lot of the decisions will be decided in collaboration with the city of Delaware. There is no timeline."

The real estate consultants approved for work on the Sawmill Parkway extension were Brian W. Barnes & Co. and Robert Weiler Co.

"We're buying right of way for the parkway right up to the city limits. We expect that process to take another year and a half," Bauserman said.

Commissioner Ken O'Brien questioned an expenditure of $315 for Comstock to attend certification classes for economic planners, but O'Brien voted with commissioners Tommy Thompson and Todd Hanks to approve the expense.

"I'm a certified economic developer through the economic development council," Comstock said "Every three years, you have that certification renewed. We pay for all the attorneys to be certified and have their continuing association through the bar association, so the argument is it's worth doing this for economic planning."

Comstock said the certification is relatively rare among public administrators, but it's valued by companies as they begin working with local governments on location decisions.

"There are probably 25 or 30 people in central Ohio who practice economic development, and there are only four or five of us that have this certification," Comstock said.

Delaware city economic development director Shannon Hamons also holds the qualification.

Among the subject areas of expertise are transportation, public-private financing mechanisms and managing agreements among elected public officials and developers.

"You want to make sure your companies are being retained and you don't want them to think that you're giving something to one and not the other," Comstock said.

"You want to understand the real estate markets, how industrial parks are managed, what the key financing mechanisms are, the various general obligation and revenue bonds that can be issued. Transportation is a competency and planning and land use."

In other business, the commissioners approved interim county administrator Deborah Martin as the local governmental representative and Shawn Stevens, Sara Nagra and Carol Rosebrough as the citizen member representatives to the Sunbury Meadows Community Authority.

The positions had been vacant since 2008. Under Ohio law, community authorities are established under which home purchasers pay assessments for various purposes such as road and infrastructure maintenance by the community authority.