Howard and Rosemary Emswiler moved one step closer last week to getting road access to more than 300 acres of their property in Pataskala, with plans to make the site developable.

Howard and Rosemary Emswiler moved one step closer last week to getting road access to more than 300 acres of their property in Pataskala, with plans to make the site developable.

"It's clear we have a way to move forward on development (of the access road)," said Timothy Boland, Pataskala city administrator.

Pataskala City Council's economic-development committee will discuss the project at 5:30 p.m. Monday, June 30, in Pataskala City Hall, 621 W. Broad St.

Councilman Chip Fraley said the committee needs to talk about some of the project's details, including ways to transfer agreements that were forged with ProLogis to the Emswiler corporation.

The Emswilers' proposal to Licking County would save state grant funds and build an access road connecting the Etna Corporate Park to Broad Street. The 14,400-foot road would through 525 acres east of Mink Road and south of Broad, most of which is owned by the Emswilers.

County commissioners initially balked at the idea of fronting money for the project without any reimbursement, but all three were positive about moving forward during a meeting with local officials held June 26.

Their proposal, presented by attorney Connie Klema, would have the Emswilers create a new corporation to build the road and develop the site. Partnering with a contractor, the corporation would build the road and pay for any costs exceeding the grant amount for the portion of road that extends north of Refugee Road.

The state is providing $3.4-million in a Job Ready Sites (JRS) grant for the project, but construction of the road is estimated to exceed that. Licking County commissioners are expected to fund any costs exceeding the grant for the portion of the road south of Refugee and to pay for the project's engineering costs, which could reach an estimated $750,000. The county already allocated about $140,000 for project engineering that began earlier this year. The county also has agreed to pay for the cost of mitigating wetlands from the site. According to state law, if wetlands are destroyed in construction, the wetlands must be replaced elsewhere.

The Emswilers are not requesting to be paid back for any of their costs exceeding the grant funding, but county commissioners have requested a 100-percent return on the county's investment. Money could be returned to the county through two revenue streams being proposed as part of the project. Agreements are being drafted to place the property in a joint economic-development district (JEDD), which would allow Newark to collect an income tax on businesses in the district for the city of Pataskala, which does not currently collect an income tax. The property also could be placed within a tax-increment-financing (TIF) district, which would collect any new property-tax revenue from developments in the district and redirect it into a TIF fund.

Licking County could receive revenue from both the JEDD and the TIF.

Licking County commissioner Mark Van Buren said the county would receive 35 percent of the JEDD revenues at first. When Pataskala decides to put in water and sewer lines for a business user, the city then could share a percentage of that revenue.

"It would be split proportionately," he said.

The road project has been scaled back since ProLogis, a development company, pulled out of the project. ProLogis originally was going to build the road and be reimbursed for its investment.

Jerry Brems, director of the Licking County Planning Department, said the road would be two lanes wide and would include preparation work for water and sewer lines to be installed in the future. It initially was planned to be built as a boulevard with a median. The two lanes would be built on one side of the right of way so the road could be expanded to four lanes with a median if necessary.

Boland said the city's bond counsel is determining what agreements with ProLogis must be terminated and what new agreements must be put in place to move the project forward. He said new drafts are being put together, and he does not anticipate any delays on the paperwork needed.

"In one respect, we're in a better position, in terms of these agreements," he said. "We have a basis to work off these as a model and reduce the amount of time it takes."

Boland said the city and the Emswilers already have come to a general understanding. The agreements need to be reworked and approved by council. Other parties involved in revenue-sharing agreements, such as local school districts, also are participating in discussions on the agreement changes.