Olentangy Valley News

Orange Twp. borrows against levy to fund fire operations

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Orange Township trustees on April 1 authorized the issuance of fire levy tax anticipation notes, not to exceed $3.78 million, to help maintain fire department operations through 2013.

Following the defeat of a 7.8-mill levy in November, voters approved a three-year, 7.5-mill levy in a special election in February. A three-year, 5-mill levy expired last year.

Taxes from the February levy cannot be collected until 2014, forcing trustees Rob Quigley, Lisa Knapp and Debbie Taranto to look for other ways to fund the department in 2013.

Coupled with a $1.5 million carryover in fire funds from 2012, trustees previously allocated $2 million from the general fund to get the department through May of this year. The borrowed $3.78 million will cover the remainder of 2013.

"It will be tight, but I think we can do it" with the borrowed money, Assistant Fire Chief Matt Noble told trustees at the April 1 meeting.

Township Fiscal Officer Joel Spitzer said that the notes can be issued by the Delaware County Bank, which already has a working relationship with the township, at a 1.94 percent annual interest rate. The first interest payment would be due in March 2014.

During a break in the meeting, Spitzer said he estimates that interest payments would be about $400,000 over the next three years.

The levy is expected to generate an estimated $22.911 million over the three years with interest payments coming from tax collections.

The fire department, which has 45 full-time firefighters out of a staff of about 65, faced drastic cuts and possible closure if the February levy had failed.

Trustees on April 1 also approved amendments to the township zoning classifications to establish a new Planned Elderly Residential District. The purpose is to address increased demand for independent living, assisted living and nursing home care for individuals 55 years old and older.

"We've had a few developers come in and be interested in" such senior residential development, Knapp said.

Both Taranto and Quigley agreed that the new zoning classification is a good idea.

"I think this will be a great asset to Orange Township," Taranto said.

The township zoning commission previously reviewed the amendments and recommended the change.

Trustees plan to act on two resolutions at a special meeting on April 4 to support residents opposed to high-density development in former township property annexed to the city of Columbus. The resolutions would be submitted to Columbus officials who will decide whether the developments will go forward.

A 44-unit apartment building is proposed on four acres of land just south or Polaris Parkway at 9440 South Old State Road.

Adam Miller, president of the Wynstone Homeowners Association, told trustees, "We're all for property rights, but certain spots shouldn't put these kinds of high-density apartments in."

About 45 of the 315 homes in the Wynstone subdivision are in Orange Township.

A 7.18-acre parcel of land at 3780 East Powell Road, which is in a predominately residential area, is proposed for zoning that could accommodate multi-family development or a hotel.

Residents complained that the development would back up to single-family homes and is not suitable for that area.

Trustees agreed that the township should oppose such high-density development.

Quigley said such development will have a direct effect on the future of the Polaris area and the quality of life there.

"We support our residents and our neighbors," he said.

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