Local officials say they are still optimistic about future development of 1,000 acres in Jerome and Millcreek townships, even though Forest City Enterprises has withdrawn its rezoning application for the site.

Bayly Pointe was being developed as a mixed-use community northwest of U.S. Route 33 and U.S. Route 42. It would have included offices, retail and residential space.

Forest City Enterprises informed Millcreek Township trustees last week in a letter it was pulling its application to rezone the land for development.
Union County economic development director Eric Phillips said the withdrawal will delay development in the area -- temporarily.

"Just because they take it off the docket doesn't mean development won't happen in that corridor," he said. "There's a good chance we'll see other opportunities."

Phillips said he understands the market is not healthy.

"Understanding that any company needs to look at market conditions ... we fully respect the decision they made. Just because it's off the docket doesn't mean it won't come back," he said. "That whole corridor has a lot of potential."

Millcreek Township trustee Keith Conroy said the decision caught him by surprise.

"I think we were a little surprised at the abruptness, but we certainly understand economics played a role," Conroy said.

By working with the developer on decisions related to economics, public safety and use of green space, the township developed ideas it will incorporate into its land-use plan and zoning code, Conroy said.

Marysville Mayor Chris Schmenk said the city will not see an immediate impact, but pondered how the decision will affect the city's sewer rates.

She said the city factored in future development in sewer rate structures to pay for the city's new water reclamation plant.

"At some point, we may need to look for additional revenues. We're not immediately concerned, but we're monitoring the situation," she said.

Schmenk said she hopes the situation is temporary.

"I think many of us in the area have gotten to know the principals from Forest City," she said. "I think they would do a good job. I truly hope it's a temporary setback. I'd like to encourage them and other developers to look at our area because I think we're right for development and have a lot to offer."

Jeff Linton, vice president of corporate communication for Forest City, said the company is not completely pulling out.

"What we have done literally is withdraw the rezoning request. We're not walking away," Linton said. "It may take longer to create an eventual development there, and obviously with the economic conditions, you can't take 'a build it and they will come' approach.

"We've had to rethink the configuration that was proposed ... the scale that was proposed relative to the economy and likely project costs, but we remain interested in the area. We think it's a good area for future development," he said.

Forest City still holds some land options in the area, he added.