Orange Township trustees on Aug. 23 were told they soon should receive a rezoning request for a Menards home improvement store proposed to be built on a 70-acre site north of Orange Point Road on the east side of U.S. Route 23.

Orange Township trustees on Aug. 23 were told they soon should receive a rezoning request for a Menards home improvement store proposed to be built on a 70-acre site north of Orange Point Road on the east side of U.S. Route 23.

"If all goes well, those plans will be voted on and the zoning commission recommendation sent to the trustees" in September, zoning inspector Tom Farahay said.

Menards officials approached the township months ago about rezoning 27.8 acres of the site from farm residential to planned industrial use to build the $7.5-million,162,000-square-foot store.

The remaining 43.1 acres would be rezoned from neighborhood commercial and farm residential to planned commercial and office district for outlot anchor stores, such as a restaurant.

Delaware County commissioners last February approved a 50-percent tax abatement for 10 years on the assessed value of the store, which could save Menards about $860,000 over the 10 years. Officials have said the store could have up to 80 jobs and generate about $600,000 a year in county sales tax revenue.

An effort three years ago by Menards to build a store on Home Road west of U.S. 23 failed amid opposition by residents who said a big-box store was not a good fit for that area.

Also during the meeting, trustees voted unanimously to approve a $549,437 contract with Park Enterprises Construction Co. Inc. to build the Lewis Center Trail North project.

Work on the leisure trail was expected to begin on Aug. 29 at Glen Oak Elementary School and run 1.6 miles to Franklin Street in Lewis Center and the nearby Weatherby Drive in the Alum Creek subdivision. Construction of the trail is expected to be completed by late November.

Park was one of two bidders considered for the job. Republic Builders put in a bid of $560,000.

Trustees Rob Quigley, Nelson Katz and Chris Masciola said they were pleased the township won't have to pay a large amount toward the project.

"The majority of the project is being paid for with grants," Quigley said.

Two reimbursement grants through the state of Ohio will pay for $470,000 of the cost, leaving the remaining $79,000 to come from the township.

Trustees said they want to proceed cautiously with a draft plan proposed to help future development in the Olentangy River watershed through cooperation among various jurisdictions.

The plan, being guided by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, involves 25 central Ohio jurisdictions in the watershed, which stretches 57 miles from Columbus to Marion County.

The plan would identify "priority conservation areas" to be protected because of their natural, agricultural or historic values and "priority development areas" to be targeted for development.

While trustees said the watershed should be protected, Katz was particularly concerned about wording in the 151-page draft plan that could affect how Orange Township handles its land use and development.

Katz and the other trustees said they don't want any unwanted outside influence from other jurisdictions.

Katz said Orange Township must protect its autonomy and "make a statement (in the plan) about what we will or will not accept in Orange Township in the watershed process."

Quigley and Masciola agreed.

"We absolutely need to preserve our autonomy," Masciola said.

Quigley added, "This is supposed to be about the watershed. ... They have taken this way too far."

Trustees told maintenance and parks director Beth Hugh, who is the township's representative with the watershed group, to inform the group about the issues that concern Orange Township. An option for Orange Township, which joined the watershed group in February 2010, would be to drop out if trustees don't think their concerns are addressed.

Trustees also created five special funds to receivemoney from the general fund for certain capital improvement projects, such as the proposed $1 million Orange Road-U.S. 23 improvement project. The money would be accrued in those funds during 10 years. Trustees will decide later when to start putting money into those funds.