2012 held good news in finances, development in Tri-Village area
A January photo shows the construction equipment that has been a common sight at the Grandview Yard development over the past few years. Buy This Photo
Both Grandview Heights and Marble Cliff saw their revenues boosted this year as city residents approved an operating levy and the village found an estate-tax windfall.
Meanwhile, buildings continued to rise at Grandview Yard, and a brief disagreement over a service contract threatened to disconnect the city and village.
Here's a look back at some of 2012's top stories in the Tri-Village area.
At Grandview Heights City Council's Jan. 28 retreat, Director of Finance Bob Dvoraczky presented a five-year financial projection that featured far less gloom and doom than his forecast one year earlier.
While Dvoraczky still projected city expenditures would be higher than revenue each year through 2015, the "worrisome" outlook regarding future year-end cash balances had improved, he said. And 2011 turned out better than budgeted, with the city in essence breaking even for the year, Dvoraczky said.
The city was not projected to maintain a positive year-end cash balance through the next five years, he said.
Generator must go
In February, Franklin County Municipal Judge Harland Hale ruled the backup generator installed in 2011 at the Summit Chase condominiums must be moved.
Hale ruled that "there would be a substantial detriment" if a variance sought by the association to allow the generator to remain in its present location was granted.
The condominium placed the generator about five feet east of the Urlin Avenue right of way, a location that Hale's opinion stated was "within sight, smell and noise distance of many of (Summit Chase's) neighbors."
The city had ordered the condominium complex to install a backup generator after Hurricane Ike knocked out its power in 2008.
When the generator was installed in April 2010, no certificate of zoning compliance was applied for or issued.
Neighbors requested the city's zoning setback requirements be enforced since the generator's location violated those requirements. The city sent a notice of violation and Summit Chase applied for a variance.
In August 2010, the Grandview Heights Board of Zoning Appeals denied the association's appeal of a zoning-code violation order following its vote against the variance.
The condominium association later filed an appeal in Franklin County Environmental Court, leading to Hale's ruling.
In July, the Summit Chase Homeowners Association proposed the generator be moved farther up the hill that faces Urlin Avenue. The new site would be near the condominium's swimming pool.
In store at the Yard
Nationwide Realty Investors, developer of the Grandview Yard project, announced in April that a new Giant Eagle store and GetGo gas station would be constructed on the north end of the Yard.
The 92,000-square-foot store will be located on the north side of Third Avenue, east of Edgehill Road and west of the railroad tracks.
Giant Eagle has signed a 20-year lease, NRI President Brian Ellis said.
The store is expected to open in the second half of 2013, Ellis said.
In the fall, residents began moving into some of the units at the Apartments at Grandview Yard, the first phase of residential development there. A total of 154 units will be built in three four-story buildings north of the Hyatt Place Hotel.
New service contract
Marble Cliff Village Council voted April 16 to adopt a new contract for municipal services from Grandview Heights. Grandview City Council voted to approve the pact May 7.
Instead of the usual three-year length, the contract is for five years.
The village will pay the city $470,000 for police, fire, EMS, parks and recreation, solid waste collection, maintenance and other public services for 2012, with a built-in increase of 3.25 percent from year to year.
The contract also included a provision for a service review by each municipality to establish a process for the determination of future contracts' services and fees.
Marble Cliff briefly considered a service contract proposal from the city of Upper Arlington. The idea drew some support from Village Council members, but residents expressed a desire to maintain an agreement with Grandview.
Medical center OK'd
The Grandview Heights Planning Commission on Aug. 2 approved the design for a rehabilitation hospital that will be built at Grandview Yard.
The project, along with the Apartments at the Yard complex, will be the finishing element to the Yard's first phase.
HealthSouth Corp., a Birmingham, Ala.-based company, will build the two-story, 62,000-square-foot hospital at the northeast corner of Northwest and Goodale boulevards.
The facility will provide rehabilitation services for patients with health issues relating to such conditions as brain, cardiac and spinal cord injuries, said Art Wilson, chief real estate officer for HealthSouth.
The hospital will have 50 beds, all in private rooms, and about 130 employees, with an average salary of just under $70,000, Wilson said.
Preferred Living, a Westerville-based residential property developer, notified Marble Cliff in early September it was no longer interested in pursuing its proposal to build two four-story apartment buildings on the former Custom Coach property at 1400 Dublin Road.
"Following the town meeting we held (in August) and hearing the sentiments of the majority of residents who attended plus the majority of Village Council members, and with the issues that were unresolved, it was obvious that it wasn't likely their request to rezone the property was going to go through," Mayor Kent Studebaker said.
One of the tipping points for the village was the impact the apartments would have on the Grandview Heights City School District, Studebaker said.
Because the apartments would be at least two miles from Stevenson Elementary School, state law would have required the district to provide transportation for elementary schoolers living in the apartments.
The school district had expressed concern about having to incur the expense of purchasing school buses and paying bus drivers to service the apartment buildings, Studebaker said.
Village officials also were concerned Marble Cliff would have received little or no tax revenue from the residential development and that it would have removed the parcel from potential future commercial development, he said.
Marble Cliff received an unexpected financial windfall in October.
Fiscal Officer Cindy McKay reported at the Oct. 15 Village Council meeting that the village had received $649,000 in estate-tax revenue.
Studebaker said with the windfall, village officials need to "sit back, take a deep breath" and consider whether there are projects or expenditures Marble Cliff has been putting off "waiting for the sun to shine" that potentially could now be completed.
The village's improving tax revenues and the estate-tax cash meant Marble Cliff's ending balance for 2012 and beginning balance for 2013 should be "significantly different" than originally anticipated, Studebaker said.
Kaplin Tract cleanup
Franklin County Commissioners Oct. 16 approved the use of a $3 million Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund grant for remediation of a 36-acre site at the northeast corner of Dublin Road and Grandview Avenue.
Wagenbrenner Development Inc. plans to redevelop the brownfield site, known as the Kaplin Tract, as a mixed-use development project expected to include 200 residential units and more than 265,000 square feet of commercial and retail space.
Most of the site is in the city of Columbus, but about nine acres sits in Grandview.
"It's another nice large-scale project for our community," Grandview Mayor Ray DeGraw said.
City levy passes
Grandview Heights' 7.5-mill property-tax replacement levy passed with 73 percent of the vote in the Nov. 6 election.
The levy will provide around $410,000 annually in operating funds and $250,000 set aside for street improvements.
DeGraw said he would prepare a proposed set of street-improvement projects for 2013 to present to City Council.
'13 budget looks good
City Council on Dec. 3 approved a $12.4 million budget for 2013.
At a Nov. 19 finance committee meeting to review the proposed budget, Dvoraczky reported his updated projections indicated the city's revenues may exceed expenditures in 2013.
The city has "a decent chance" of having a budget surplus for 2013 "courtesy of Grandview Heights voters" who passed the city's levy Nov. 6, he said.
The revised estimates indicated the city's general fund revenues would exceed expenditures by more than $130,000, Dvoraczky said.
If the numbers hold true, it would be the first time that has happened since 2008, he said.
Dvoraczky also reported that thanks to additional income tax revenue, the city's budget deficit for 2012 would be lower than expected, with projections showing expenses would exceed revenues by about $183,000.
When council approved the 2012 budget last December, the deficit was anticipated to be about $807,000, he said.
The city is expected to end the year with a cash balance of about $3.1 million -- several hundred thousand dollars more than was expected when the year began, Dvoraczky said.