Violet Township on June 18 became the first of five Fairfield County communities to commit to an agreement establishing the Northwest Fairfield County 33 Corridor Joint Economic Development District (JEDD).

Violet Township on June 18 became the first of five Fairfield County communities to commit to an agreement establishing the Northwest Fairfield County 33 Corridor Joint Economic Development District (JEDD).

The agreement establishes a mile-wide business district along U.S. Route 33 from the village of Carroll to Diley Road. The idea is to spur cohesive economic development along the corridor, which is in Violet and Bloom townships.

In addition to the two townships, the communities of Canal Winchester, Pickerington and Lancaster have participated in developing the agreement.

"Except for the Ten Commandments engraved in stone, nothing is perfect," Violet Township attorney Al Schrader said this week. "This is not the Ten Commandments.

"I believe this is about the best we can get," he said. "Sometimes the public is not served by waiting for the perfect thing."

The agreement includes a prohibition against annexation of land in the district by the participating cities. In exchange, it allows the cities to share in revenue created by development in the JEDD area by putting in place a 2-percent income tax.

The largest single piece of that revenue will be used for infrastructure improvements, with another portion shared by the participating communities.

Schrader said many of the final revisions to the agreement came out of comments made at public hearings in each of the participating communities.

"The process worked the way it was supposed to," he said. "People brought up ideas ... and those comments were taken to heart."

Among the most important changes, he said, was allowing an individual property owner to opt out of participating in the JEDD.

Rocco Sabatino of Chevington Chase told the trustees Wednesday night he appreciates the work that went into drafting the document.

"I did see that it was modified so no citizen would be forced into the JEDD," Sabatino said. "I think that's a good thing. I do want to thank you for considering the landowner in this."

After each of the five participating communities votes on the JEDD, it will go before the Fairfield County Board of Commissioners. However, that board's approval is not required for the JEDD agreement to go into effect.

"They have two options," Violet Township's economic development specialist Joy Davis said. "They can approve it by vote or they can set it aside and not vote on it and it will go into effect in 90 days without their expressed approval."

Some Fairfield County leaders have questioned the need for the JEDD, including Fairfield County Commissioner Judy Shupe and economic development director Bill Arnett.

Arnett has argued that in other parts of Ohio, JEDDs have been established as incentives related to specific development projects. He has described the U.S. Route 33 JEDD as a "one-size-fits-all" approach.

Davis, however, said that is not at all the case.

"When a project comes into town, you have to decide in a region who is going to provide utilities and services," Davis said. "We've done the first step with this. We've eliminated the round one of negotiations that has to take place between the entities before we can tell a company, 'Here's what we can do for you.'"

In the sense that having those negotiations out of the way can get a project off the ground more quickly, the JEDD is indeed an incentive, Davis said.

"It's taken us almost two years to do step one," she said. "That's a problem when you are just leaping off the line when a project comes to town."