Reynoldsburg City Council members say a change in the state law concerning joint economic development zone (JEDZ) agreements prompted a repeal of the JEDZ with Etna Township that was approved May 5.
By a vote of 5-0, council repealed the agreement in a special meeting held at 9 a.m. Monday, June 30. Councilmen Mel Clemens and Scott Barrett were absent.
The agreement would have granted Etna Township the ability to levy Reynoldsburg’s 1.5-percent income tax on 1,497 acres in the township and give Reynoldsburg the ability to collect the tax.
Etna voters ultimately would have had to approve the JEDZ in a special election Aug. 5, but that will not be held now, Reynoldsburg City Attorney Jed Hood said.
He said Etna Township trustees have indicated they will also repeal the agreement in a special meeting on Tuesday, July 1.
Hood said when House Bill 289 was signed into law June 5, “it changed the rules of the game.”
“The law mandates that a proposed JEDZ contract shall be recalled and a joint economic development review council, consisting of representatives from the four largest businesses in the zone, must approve the plan as being in the best interest of the zone,” he said.
Reynoldsburg was facing a lawsuit filed by one of those businesses, Ascena Retail Group, claiming the city and township met privately in violation of Ohio’s open-meetings law.
“The lawsuit was a defensible one,” Hood said. “The repeal is not an indication that there was any wrongdoing.”
“We did everything we were supposed to do to make a legitimate JEDZ, but the rules changed on us,” Councilman Barth Cotner said.