Delaware News

Joint Economic Development District

Sunbury, township mull details

Plan could spread outlet-mall wealth; Berkshire asks for non-annexation zone

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Two agreements between the village of Sunbury and surrounding Berkshire Township are the likely next steps ahead of a coming wave of commercial development in the area.

Sunbury officials revealed at a special Village Council meeting Wednesday, Aug. 27, that the board could vote on the creation of a Joint Economic Development District and a non-annexation zone as early as next month.

The village and township have been in discussions for months with the city of Delaware about the creation of the JEDD, which would allow the collection of income taxes within the district's boundaries. The JEDD would include only the planned Simon-Tanger outlet mall, just southeast of Interstate 71's intersection with U.S. Route 36/state Route 37 in the township.

Under the JEDD, Delaware would collect a 1.85-percent income tax -- the city's rate -- from employees at the outlet mall. No final agreement has been made on how that money would be divvied up.

A proposal currently being discussed would allocate 5 percent of the tax revenue for administrative costs, then allocate 45 percent of the remaining revenue to Berkshire Township, 30 percent to Sunbury and 25 percent to Delaware.

A future, more-expansive JEDD in the surrounding area also is being discussed. It could have a similar revenue split, with Sunbury or Berkshire receiving the largest amount, depending on whether the property is in the township or the village.

Sunbury Mayor Tommy Hatfield said he'd like to see a higher percentage of JEDD revenue -- perhaps 55 percent -- go to the municipality where the proposed businesses are physically located. He also said municipalities that administer JEDDs typically get closer to 10 percent of the revenue.

"The 25 percent for Delaware is on the high side," he said.

Village Solicitor David Brehm said the JEDD agreement may hinge on Sunbury's willingness to agree to the creation of a non-annexation zone within the township.

"(Township officials) would like to preserve some of their township," he said.

The proposed boundaries of the non-annexation zone, which includes the interchange of I-71 and routes 36 and 37, are: the township's northern and western boundaries; Galena Road to the east; and the Simon Tanger outlet mall to the south.

Councilman Len Weatherby said it was important to remember Berkshire Township does not need Sunbury's partnership to enact the JEDD. If Sunbury refuses to create the non-annexation zone, the township could partner with Delaware alone on the JEDD -- cutting Sunbury out of the revenue-sharing equation.

"If we back out of the JEDD completely, it's going to go forward without us," he said.

Sunbury already has begun the process of annexing properties to the south of the proposed outlet mall ahead of the planned, mixed-use NorthGate Centre development. A proposal for that project includes car dealerships, hotels, sports facilities and warehouses on more than 1,000 acres.

Pat Shively, a partner in the NorthGate project, said the township and village should make certain residents want to be a part of a non-annexation zone before passing binding legislation.

"I would think that the village and Berkshire would want to make sure that (is) the case," he said.

Shively said he knew of property owners in the proposed zone who favor future annexation to Sunbury.

Brehm said property owners within the proposed non-annexation zone who wanted to be a part of Sunbury need to reach out to township and village officials soon.

"They need to stand up and make their voices heard," he said.

Along with the JEDDs, Berkshire Township and Sunbury currently are working on the framework of deals involving New Community Authorities, or NCAs, and Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, districts in the area.

Hatfield said the local governments need to use every tool on hand to capture revenue from the coming developments for infrastructure improvements, without burdening Big Walnut Schools.

The opening of the Simon-Tanger outlet is expected to lead to millions of dollars of roadway improvements before opening day, but no new interchange at I-71.

Hatfield said it's clear that future development in the area would necessitate a new solution to traffic at the intersection.

NorthGate Development announced Aug. 27 it was willing to commit $17 million to $19 million in funding toward a new southern interchange in the area. The funding is contingent on a combined commitment of $33 million from Delaware County, the Ohio Department of Transportation and Simon-Tanger.

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