The Jefferson Township trustees voted April 23 to rescind a resolution that would have given township residents an opportunity to establish a joint-economic-development zone contract between the township and Gahanna.
Township administrator Tom Spring said the board of trustees voted to rescind the resolution to place it on the May 6 ballot and to direct the board of elections not to count the votes.
Trustees Mike Rowan and Claire Yoder voted to rescind the measure, while Rich Courter abstained because he has a business in the proposed development zone.
“We felt there was polarization and harm being done to our relationship with the business community and many residents,” Rowan told ThisWeek. “We were afraid those relationships couldn't be saved if we went forward.”
He said the general consensus from residents was that the proposed JEDZ wasn't the direction they wanted to go in.
“This wasn't how they wanted to fund services for the township,” Rowan said. “I think a lot of good things have come out of this. Residents and businesses have come together to work with the trustees to move forward.”
Unfortunately, Spring said, there was a lot of misinformation promulgated by opponents who claimed that lands could be added to the zone, which the contract prohibited; that legal fees were more than double the actual amount; and that the tax would be instituted by Gahanna, rather than by a separate entity. Spring said the township would like to support the business community, but that is a two-way street.
“Our streets are crumbling,” Spring said. “Being the lowest-taxed township in Franklin County keeps taxes low, but has made it difficult to fund even basic levels of service for our 10,000-plus residents, the county's third-largest township population.”
This is the second JEDZ to be pulled from the ballot in Franklin County. Perry Township trustees withdrew their ballot measure to work with Worthington after several residents and a few business owners expressed strong opposition.
A bill is going through the state legislature to prohibit future JEDZ attempts by townships.
For more on this story, read the May 1 edition of ThisWeek Rocky Fork Enterprise.