Licking County News

New Albany business park

Multiple ZIP codes cause confusion, concerns

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A convoluted situation in New Albany's Business Park East is starting to affect Johnstown and Pataskala.

The park, which stretches along state Route 161 and across U.S. Route 62, is large enough that it is in three ZIP codes: New Albany's 43054, Johnstown's 43031 and Pataskala's 43062.

New Albany planners didn't see the ZIP code discrepancy as an issue when development began, Jennifer Chrysler, New Albany director of community development said, but now the businesses are having problems with the inconsistencies, specifically in the Personal Care and Beauty Campus on the east side of the park.

According to Chrysler, the businesses within that part of the park -- in Licking County -- say having a different ZIP code from the city of New Albany is causing logistical nightmares.

"Most of the businesses in this area rely on the logistics industry to serve them," she said. "Depending on which logistics company they use for shipping or receiving, or even within FedEx, each one of those uses different databases to back call all their information so they can find sites. So depending on what database they use, they can't find the companies."

The clustering of businesses in the Personal Care and Beauty Campus was designed to speed up distribution of beauty products. Chrysler said a typical timeframe to create and distribute a product would be months, whereas the beauty-park businesses could crank out a product in about a week.

The businesses can't operate correctly, however, when shipments and deliveries are delayed because of the confusion.

Chrysler said GPS maps and other location services have problems with finding the businesses. Even potential employees who think they're working in Johnstown realize the job is in New Albany and don't return for second interviews, she said.

To fix the problem, the businesses' managers are hoping New Albany could put all of the businesses in the city's ZIP code, but such a process would require an application to the U.S. Postal Service.

New Albany leaders are looking for support from Pataskala and Johnstown leaders and have asked both communities for letters of support. Pataskala already has agreed.

Johnstown Village Council, however, dismissed the proposed letter July 15, citing the condition of school district boundaries between New Albany and Johnstown-Monroe never changing.

"I've got no interest in a conditional letter," Councilman Bob Orsini said. "Why? There's something going on that they're just not telling us."

New Albany has revenue-sharing agreements with the Johnstown-Monroe and Licking Heights school districts, the two other districts that fall within the business park's boundaries.

In the agreement, Chrysler said, various property-tax abatements for the businesses allow the revenue-sharing agreement to allocate 30 cents of each dollar of income-tax revenue to repay the debt for the infrastructure of the park; 15 cents to the city of Columbus for water and sewer services; and the remaining 55 cents to be split between New Albany-Plain Local Schools and either Licking Heights or Johnstown-Monroe, whichever district a particular business-park company is within.

Because of school board and staff turnover in Johnstown-Monroe and the village of Johnstown, Chrysler said, she believes those officials might not be aware of the specifics of the agreement and hopes a meeting next week could clear up the issue.

"I think they just want more information," Chrysler said. "I think the concern is the new superintendent and new members of school board since we had the agreement a few years ago. I really think it's just an opportunity to sit down and go through those agreements and talk about what those mean and the commitments we made.

"I think everybody agrees, from a practical standpoint, that this makes sense, but I just think that Johnstown wants to be sure that everyone understands before a decision is made."

Johnstown-Monroe Superintendent Dale Dickson, who was hired in May, said he didn't know much before the meeting but that no one is ruling out an agreement.

"We have an open ear to listen to their proposals," Dickson said.

Johnstown Village Manager Jim Lenner said the "door isn't shut" for making the terms of the letter happen, but that he's not sure where the council will go from here.

"It's hard to tell," Lenner said. "If the school district and (New Albany) come to an agreement, we'll see."

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