Pickerington Times-Sun

2013 Year In Review

Medical complex, development dominated year

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Pickerington and Violet Township both had their fare share of interesting things transpire in 2013.

Here is a look at the newsworthy highlights for the city and township in a year that can aptly be described as one of change:



Jan. 2, a standing-room only crowd packed Pickerington City Hall, many there to voice displeasure with a proposal from Homestead Development Co. to build a 115,000 square-foot $4 million indoor soccer complex on Gray Drive, adjacent to the Windmiller Ponds subdivision.

In April, Homestead officially declared it did not wish to pursue the project.

Tyler's Light, a local non-profit drug awareness organization, announced plans to build a community center in Pickerington called "Tyler's Lighthouse."

The organization also took home a Regional Emmy Award in July for its "Speak Up, Save a Life" video series and moved into new offices at 1262 Hill Road North in August.



Pickerington Medical Center, a women's health clinic that opened on 670 Hill Road North, sparked protests.

Another standing room only crowd appeared in City Hall Feb. 5 to urge Pickerington City Council to take action to close the clinic because of the owners' affiliation with a Columbus-based abortion clinic.

The clinic, which stated it does not perform surgical abortions in Pickerington, remains open and continues to draw weekly picketers to the location.

Pickerington's Planning and Zoning Commission heard the first of several applications for Pickerington Plaza, later called Hunter's Ridge, a new shopping center being built by Northstar Realty at the corner of state routes 256 and 204.

The center, with three separate buildings, will offer a mix of retail stores and restaurants, including Starbucks, Party City and Ulta Beauty.

The Violet Township Board of Trustees filed a complaint against Fairfield County in the Fairfield County Common Pleas Court stating it is illegal for the county to collect the township's 3-percent bed tax.



Pickerington City Council initiated legislation to expend city utility funds to hire a contractor to paint and maintain the city's 937 fire hydrants.

Pickerington's Zoning Code Steering Committee convened to discuss easing the city's building height restrictions.

The committee continued to meet monthly throughout the year and is tasked with the job of comprehensively revising the city's zoning code.

Violet Township made plans to demolish at least nine deteriorated structures courtesy of a grant from the Ohio Attorney General's "Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Program."



Pickerington city staff members oversaw the start of the "Shawnee Sycamore Creek Bank Stabilization Project," a $240,000 project mostly funded by the Ohio EPA to restore the failing stream bank near the city's community gardens complex.

Giant Eagle dropped out as sponsor for the city's popular Summer Concert Series in Sycamore Park.

The city went it alone in 2013, and continues to seek a major sponsor for 2014.

The Pickerington Police Department took delivery of its new Drug Abuse Resistance Education car, the first in its fleet that runs on compressed natural gas.

The car was donated by Lindsay Honda with monetary assistance from Volunteer Energy.

Pickerington High School North student Kelly Cassady won an art contest for the car's hood design, a combination panther/tiger head.



Outgoing Pickerington City Engineer Greg Bachman left his office to work in the private sector.

Bachman handed the reins over to new City Engineer Scott Tourville, a civil engineer from the city of Westerville.

ACTS, a coalition of area churches, deployed about 450 volunteers to help spruce up the city for a one-day blitz on May 11. The organization convened again in September and packaged more than 40,000 meals to send to impoverished countries.

The Violet Township Fire Department took delivery of its new medic, a Horton 623, the largest standard body the company produces for emergency vehicles. The new vehicle was purchased for $214,000.



The Olde Pickerington Farmers' Market started its 16-week run June 6 in the municipal parking lot at the corner of North Center Street and Town Square Drive.

Dozens of vendors sold items such as vegetables, home-baked goods, crafts and wood-fired pizza.

The Ohio Department of Transportation received the go-ahead from City Council for two road projects: the $6.8 million state Route 256 Safety Project and for $760,000 to improve the Center Street/Milnor Road/ Meadows Boulevard intersection, otherwise known as the "K" intersection.

Construction for both projects will commence in 2015.



Pickerington City Councilman Brian Sauer vacated his seat because he moved to Violet Township.

A search for his successor ensued brought forth 28 residents who interviewed for the position.

OhioHealth unveiled its plans for a $42 million, 150,000 square-foot medical campus to be built on a 60-acre site at the northwest corner of Refugee Road and Hill Road North, slated to open in 2015.

OhioHealth officials stated the hospital will eventually employ 180 people.

City Council unanimously approved a comprehensive water tank maintenance agreement with Georgia-based Utility Service Co. for the city's Refugee Road Tank and Longview Street tank.

July 11, a search of a house at 7700 Busey Road in Violet Township by the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office uncovered evidence of a multi-million dollar synthetic drug ring.

Pickerington and Violet Township collaborated to put on the area's July 4th activities. The entities split the $30,000 cost of fireworks as well as divvied up safety forces.



Mayor Lee Gray Aug. 10 vetoed a term sheet which outlined the city's commitment for the development of the OhioHealth medical campus.

Aug. 16, new terms were negotiated pertaining to tax-increment financing and the waiver of impact fees. City Council passed the revised agreement by a 6-0 vote.

Council approved Patrick Bowen as Brian Sauer's replacement on City Council with a 4-0 vote Aug. 20, however, Gray vetoed the appointment Aug. 26.

Violet Township trustees unanimously nixed a bid by area youth soccer group PASA to use the township's Nelson Park for soccer practices.

The Violet Township Fire Department received national recognition by winning the 2013 Billy Goldfeder Fire Service Organizational Safety Award at the International Fire Chiefs Conference in Chicago.



The Pickerington Community Pool held the first "Dog Splash" whereupon more than 90 canines frolicked in the swimming pool on the last day of pool season.

The 90-year Old Creamery Water Tank, a city landmark, is disassembled in Olde Village Pickerington.

Cost and safety issues prevented its restoration.



The Violet Township trustees listened to the complaints of residents affected by the application of less expensive "chip seal" paving and voted 3-0 on October 16 to repave streets in the New England Acres and Sturbridge Meadows subdivisions.

The additional expenditures ended up costing an extra $200,000.

The township had originally budgeted $500,000 for road maintenance in 2013.



Four candidates who ran unopposed in Pickerington City Council's general election Nov. 5 won seats.

Incumbents Tony Barletta, Jeff Fix and Cristie Hammond and newcomer Brandon Ogden will all serve four-year terms commencing Jan. 1.

In the Violet Township trustees race, both sitting trustees Terry Dunlap Sr. and Harry Myers Jr. cruised to victory for the two open seats, defeating write-in candidate Dan Griscom.



City Council approved a pre-annexation agreement for two Violet Township property owners located at the intersection of Refugee Road and Pickerington Road.

The intersection is considered by city officials to be the next commercially viable development corridor in the area heading east.

The Violet Township trustees vote 3-0 to oppose the annexation at a meeting in November.

Outgoing Pickerington City Councilman Gavin Blair was presented a key to the city by Gray.

Gray also appointed Jerry Dailey to the vacant seat on City Council.