Two weeks after taking an initial step toward an agreement to share information about proposed development projects and land uses with Violet Township, Pickerington City Council has halted the plan, at least temporarily.

Two weeks after taking an initial step toward an agreement to share information about proposed development projects and land uses with Violet Township, Pickerington City Council has halted the plan, at least temporarily.

Council voted 4-3 on June 21 to table legislation to establish a "joint planning agreement" with Violet Township.

The agreement, which was proposed by Pickerington city manager Bill Vance and Violet Township director of operations Bill Yaple, sought to commit the two governments to inform each other of all potential development and land-use projects within five days of receiving official proposals.

It also would create a panel of at least two representatives of both governments that would offer recommendations based on the land-use and development proposals coming before the township and city.

According to pact supporters, the JPA would foster a spirit of cooperation between the geographic neighbors, who admittedly have had difficulties working together in the past. They also say it aims to produce less obtrusive and mutually beneficial developments and land uses.

Council voted 5-1 in favor of approving the JPA on June 7, with Councilman Brian Wisniewski being the lone opponent.

Last week, Wisniewski maintained his opposition to the plan on the grounds it is unnecessary. He said if the city and township move forward with plans to share an economic development director, as is being discussed, there would be no need share documents.

Councilman Jeff Fix then led the movement to table action on the JPA legislation. He said he isn't against regionalism, but thinks the agreement is "premature."

"There's a greater opportunity to make a real impact on development for the entire community," Fix said.

In response, Vance said the JPA would send a message to potential developers that the city and township planned to cooperate to bring development and land-use projects to the area, and wouldn't interfere with one another's projects.

"It's a promotional opportunity to reach out and communicate to anyone who might be interested in the city and township that we're on the same page," Vance said.

Jennifer Dutey Readler, an attorney for the city, said "a lot" of cities in an effort to drive development and business have drafted similar resolutions with neighboring governments in recent years to show developers there is a spirit of cooperation.

Several council members agreed, including President Brian Sauer, Vice President Tony Barletta and Gavin Blair. They said the JPA wouldn't harm the city and noted that an opt-out clause in the agreement would allow the city to reverse track if it sought to dissolve the JPA.

"All this basically does is say, 'If something comes in, we'll shift the paperwork over to you,'" Sauer said. "This is a goodwill thing that doesn't cost anyone anything."

Councilwoman Tricia Sanders ultimately was the swing vote on the matter.

During a Tuesday night public hearing on the proposal prior to council's regular meeting, she supported the JPA.

"This is just another way for us to promote our city," she said. "I feel like we're kind of beating a dead horse and this is just a great thing to promote our city."

During the council meeting, however, Sanders joined Fix, Wisniewski and Councilwoman Cristie Hammond in voting to table the legislation.

As for Violet Township, township trustee Gary Weltlich said council's action to table the matter was "reasonable," but the trustees currently plan to bring the JPA up for a vote at their July 6 meeting, slated for 7:30 p.m.

He added that he still supports the JPA because it helps the city and township take a unified position with potential developers, and helps the two governments be consistent on economic development issues.

"Nothing has changed," he said of the township's position. "It sends the message that you're not going to play one side against the other."

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