County reaches deal to open JRS site for business
The Pataskala Job Ready Site is one step closer to being open for business.
After months of negotiations, the Licking County Commissioners voted 3-0 Thursday, Aug. 16 to approve a deal with the property owner so the site can be developed.
"It's definitely a done deal as of today," Commissioner Tim Bubb said Aug. 16.
Bubb said Licking County Prosecutor Ken Oswalt spent several months working through issues on an agreement with Pataskala farmer Howard Emswiler, who owns the 304-acre site. The JRS is undeveloped except for Etna Parkway, a $6 million road though its center that was build in 2011 and connects Broad Street and U.S. Route 40.
"It's a win-win-win for everyone," Oswalt said.
The issues ranged from financial concerns on roadway improvements to removing a large pile of dirt from the property, but, Bubb said, the main dispute was over marketing of the JRS.
Bubb said Emswiler wanted to use a local real estate agent to market the JRS to potential developers.
"We strongly felt this is a megasite," Bubb said, and needs a full-scale plan to be marketed nationally and internationally.
"We'll have the ability to market this site to the world," he said. "It's in everyone's collective best interest to sell it."
Bubb said the county is working on a marketing plan.
Oswalt said the dispute was resolved by both parties agreeing that one does not owe the other money relating to expenses of preparing the land to welcome development.
Pataskala Mayor Steve Butcher said a financial disagreement over who would pay for some improvements to Etna Parkway, including a turn lane, were resolved by a plan to use grant money.
"I understand that the costs were several hundred thousand dollars under the bid, so it was paid out of grant dollars," he said.
Also, the county will receive 6 percent of the gross sale of property to cover marketing expenses, and revenue from the Pataskala Joint Economic Development District, or JEDD, will cover any other unresolved expenses.
As for the dirt pile, Oswalt said a "dirt broker" agreed to sell off nearly 30,000 cubic yards from the JRS within two years at no expense to Licking County or Emswiler.
"He said, 'I'll take it off your hands,'" Oswalt said.
Butcher said the company is called Dirt 4U. It has up to five years to remove excess dirt from the JRS and it must compensate Emswiler if the dirt is not removed within that time period.
Butcher said he was happy the dispute has been resolved and that marketing of the JRS can move forward.
He said during the past two weeks, he's had positive conversations about the JRS with Columbus2020 Chief Economic Officer Kenny McDonald and Assistant Director and COO of the Ohio Department of Development Kristi Tanner.
"These conversations were extremely positive and showed clearly that while the dispute wasn't stopping site selectors from looking at our site, it was at least interfering with the momentum," he said.
"We are thrilled with the amount of play we are getting already and this positive news will only enhance our efforts to attract industry to Pataskala."