Licking County News

Pataskala City Council OKs CRAs, roadwork funding in split votes

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Pataskala City Council on Oct. 1 approved three Community Reinvestment Areas to allow tax incentives for improvements and new construction and agreed to issue $1.5 million in bonds for work on city streets.

City Council had to take the three pieces of legislation for the CRAs off the table before approving all three in a 4-3 split vote, with Bernard Brush, Mike Compton and Mike Fox dissenting.

The CRAs in the Old Village and Summit Station will allow tax abatements of up to 10 years to remodel existing homes, abatements of up to 12 years to remodel existing commercial and industrial buildings and abatements of up to 15 years on new commercial and industrial buildings.

Residential abatements will be automatic when minimum investments are met. Abatements on commercial property must be negotiated by council and approved by the local school district, said City Administrator Timothy Boland.

The Columbia CRA was amended Oct. 1 to exclude newly constructed residential projects. It does include commercial and agricultural property.

Brush, Compton and Fox said they voted against the CRAs because of the abatements for commercial and agricultural areas.

"I would support (the Summit Station CRA) as is, if you delete the new commercial and industrial on Broad Street," Brush said.

He said there are other commercial areas in Summit Station that are not included.

Fox said he doesn't support offering abatements for commercial use because "businesses ought to be paying their own way."

Compton said after the meeting he did not understand why the agricultural land was included in the Columbia CRA and he wondered if the residential abatements for home improvements are fair to the people in the city who already have improved their homes without incentives.

City Council also voted 4-3 to issue $1.5 million in bonds to continue road improvements in the city. Brush, Compton and Fox again were the dissenting votes.

Boland said in 2012, Pataskala will spend $3.2 million on road infrastructure. The $1.5 million will be used to improve more streets, including Mill Street.

The city is using the 2011 Roadway Asset Management Plan to determine which improvements need to be made. The RAMP identified an estimated $17 million in potential road repairs.

Fox said he was not comfortable issuing more debt for the city, which is why he voted against it.

In other business Oct. 1, City Council:

* Unanimously approved a temporary sign code amendment, restricting the use of temporary signs and further defining permits needed. The legislation was amended Sept. 17, changing the number of temporary signs allowed from four to three, one on premises and two off premises, and preventing temporary business signs from being placed in residential areas. It was further amended Oct. 1 to require temporary signs to be taken inside the business at night, even if the sign is a 16-square-foot banner. Compton said that excludes banners used to announce community events, which can be displayed before the event.

* Heard a report from the agriculture committee, which has decided to schedule a meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15, to talk further about the city's firearms discharge zones. Compton said he met with residents who complained Sept. 17 to City Council about neighbors target shooting in the back yard. Compton said he got both sides talking and is hoping they will be able to resolve the issue.

The agriculture committee met once since then and did not review the discharge zones, which typically are reviewed during new construction in the city. Brush, the committee's chairman, said the committee will review the discharge zones Oct. 15, as well as hear about the latest complaints. Fox, who also is a committee member, suggested inviting state and local officials to speak about state laws.

* Agreed to waive the three readings required and purchase a $35,000 used mobile pump that will be used as an emergency backup to the city's sewage lift stations during a power failure. Utilities Director Nathan Coey said Pataskala can use the pump for other purposes. It has been retrofitted after being used an estimated 400 hours. Coey said it carries a two-year warranty.

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