Continuing negotiations over impact fees and tax increment financing deals involving city officials and the developer of a multimillion-dollar soccer complex have put plans for the facility on hold for the moment.

Continuing negotiations over impact fees and tax increment financing deals involving city officials and the developer of a multimillion-dollar soccer complex have put plans for the facility on hold for the moment.

At the request of Homestead Development Co., Pickerington City Council voted unanimously May 18 to table action on legislation for rezoning and final development plans for a 115,000-square-foot indoor soccer complex on Refugee Road.

According to attorney Aaron Underhill, Homestead still intends to proceed with the development. Plans are to build four indoor soccer fields, estimated to cost $3-million, during the first phase of construction. Later phases call for construction of a $9-million office development just south of the soccer complex and a $5-million to $5.5-million commercial development that could house stores and restaurants fronting Refugee Road.

However, Underhill asked council to delay rezoning the 16.06 acres until economic development agreements can be worked out over how much Homestead will be charged in impact fees.

He also said the developer wants to finalize a TIF agreement, which would establish how Homestead would be reimbursed in lieu of property tax payments for paying to build extra turn lanes to both Refugee and state Route 256, as well as at least a portion of the planned extension of Windmiller Drive to Stonecreek Drive.

"We're looking to fund the infrastructure improvements up front and be repaid through a TIF," Underhill said. "We also are looking for some kind of reduction in impact fees from the soccer facility."

Underhill said he hopes the financing agreements can be worked out in time for the June 2 meeting of city council's finance committee. He said Homestead hopes to be reimbursed for the majority of funding it would provide for the state Route 256-Refugee Road intersection improvements.

He also said Homestead and the city need to determine how the soccer complex should be categorized, because the facility isn't a traditional commercial, residential or industrial development. Those projects are subject to city impact fees.

"Right now, the impact fees would drive up the cost of our project by 8 percent, and that doesn't include all the other money being fronted for infrastructure improvements," he said. "We anticipate (the first phase) of this project just the building to cost $2.8-million. The impact fees would be somewhere between $200,000 and $210,000.

"This doesn't fit any of those (impact fee) designations. We want those to be reduced to a reasonable number that reflects what the impact will be on the community."

Pickerington development director Susan Crotty said the city is hopeful it can work out the agreements, but has to be fair in how it issues TIFs and assesses impact fees.

"We can't just reduce (impact fees)," she said. "That's not a good policy.

"What we can talk about is interpreting the facility and what category it falls under. We're open to discussing that."

She said Pickerington officials see the proposed facility "as an asset to the community. We would like to see it built here, but we want to be fair with our standards and applications."

Due to the outstanding issues, Underhill said it's not certain when the soccer complex can be built. Originally, the developer hoped to complete the complex in time for the 2011 indoor winter soccer season.

"We've been at this probably close to 18 months now and we had hoped we would be beginning the (building) permitting process by now," he said. "Especially with no city manager, the negotiations have taken longer.

"This is where we want to be, but we're not going to build if the economics don't work out. (Homestead) is not going to build something just to lose money."

The soccer complex site is just west of Hill Road Plaza along Refugee Road on land owned by the Ebright family. The facility is expected to be rented to the Pickerington Area Soccer Association for indoor leagues and other activities.

nellis@thisweeknews.com