The city of Upper Arlington continues to evaluate the possibility of taking part in a regional agreement with the city of Columbus and a group of Franklin County suburbs in which the municipalities would agree not to "poach" jobs and economic development opportunities from each other.

The city of Upper Arlington continues to evaluate the possibility of taking part in a regional agreement with the city of Columbus and a group of Franklin County suburbs in which the municipalities would agree not to "poach" jobs and economic development opportunities from each other.

Upper Arlington City Council members and city administrators discussed concerns about moving forward with the agreement at the April 16 council conference session.

In addition to Upper Arlington and Columbus, the other municipalities that have been meeting since January 2011 to discuss the agreement include Dublin, Gahanna, Grove City, New Albany, Bexley, Reynoldsburg, Worthington and Hilliard.

One concern with the tentative agreement is that while it allows cities to maintain existing Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) tools to provide incentives to companies that consider relocating, it is silent about Joint Economic Development Agreements (JEDDs), Assistant City Manager Joe Valentino said.

"Council also needs to be aware that although the agreement does not specifically address penalties for a breach of the agreement if a city violates this agreement, there is most likely a cause of action that may result in damages against the city," Valentino said.

City Attorney Jeanine Hummer said other types of agreements, such as letters of intent and memorandums of understanding, may be more beneficial than a binding contract with the participating municipalities.

"We probably have not thought of the scenario that could occur" that would cause Upper Arlington or the other municipalities included in the agreement to incur penalties, she said.

She gave an example of a business that needed to double in size and couldn't do so in landlocked Upper Arlington and therefore chose to relocate to another jurisdiction.

"Are we going to penalize those jurisdictions for being available?" she said.

Bob Lamb, Upper Arlington's community and economic development manager, said he also wants to clarify that the agreement would not jeopardize economic developments that are currently under negotiation.

"We would want to make sure that those projects are not going to be impacted in any negative kind of way," Lamb said.

Valentino said he's also concerned that the city of Westerville has not yet confirmed its participation in the agreement. Valentino said he will contact Westerville officials to gauge their interest.

Council members indicated that they would like to proceed with the agreement, given that all concerns have been addressed. Valentino said he will keep council members updated as discussions with the other municipalities continue and the agreement is finalized.

"The goal is to have something in place by July," he said.