Upper Arlington News

Pre-election campaign finance reports

Developer made lone contribution to Issue 24

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A local issue to permit alcohol sales throughout the Lane Avenue community entertainment district passed handily on Nov. 6, thanks in part to backing from the city of Upper Arlington, the Upper Arlington Chamber of Commerce and a $20,000 contribution from a local developer.

According to pre-election campaign finance reports filed by Oct. 25 with the Franklin County Board of Elections, the political-action committee Yes on Issue 24 was the only entity that raised funds to campaign for Issue 24.

That report shows Yes on Issue 24 received a single, in-kind contribution of $20,000 from Lane Avenue Redevelopment LLC, a local development company currently building a five-story, 109-room hotel in the Lane Avenue CED, as well as a 26,000-square-foot mixed-use project that will yield luxury apartments, retail and office space.

According to the report and Nelson Yoder, a principal at the development services and property management firm Crawford Hoying -- and partner with Lane Avenue Redevelopment LLC -- those funds were used to educate voters throughout Upper Arlington about Issue 24 and to explain how its passage could help drive future development within the CED.

"We mailed those to all registered voters in the city," Yoder said. "That was the majority of our effort, but we were glad to see the chamber took an active role in helping to get the issue passed, and the city also did a fantastic job educating voters about the issue."

Issue 24 allows every parcel in the 39-acre Lane Avenue CED to be "wet" and upheld the liquor licenses of 11 CED businesses currently selling spirits. It passed by a margin of 17,546 votes(84.04 percent) to 3,331 votes (15.96 percent), according to unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections.

Emma Speight, community affairs director for the city of Upper Arlington, said the city's Issue 24 efforts were focused on providing facts-based information about the measure, why Upper Arlington City Council brought it to the ballot and the impact a "yes" or "no" vote would have on the city and local businesses.

"For Issue 24, our approximate total hard costs were just under $12,000, so, less than $1 per household," Speight said.

Specifically, the city printed and mailed Issue 24 informational postcards to residents who requested absentee ballots, and printed and mailed an informational brochure to all residents.

The city placed three advertisements in ThisWeek Upper Arlington News, Speight said, included an article in the city's fall newsletter mailed to all Upper Arlington households, authored press releases, columns and editorials for local newspapers, posted updates on social media websites, created an online form for Issue 24-related questions on the city's website and created a poster that was available for CED businesses, the chamber and other supporters to display.

"The funds used to pay for our informational pieces came from the routine budget allotment provided to (the city's) community affairs (division) for printing and public relations activities," she said. "I think our informational pieces really summarize why the city placed the issue on the ballot.

"It was the most practical and efficient way of addressing any existing dry parcels within the CED," Speight said.

Issue 24's other predominant proponent, the local chamber, endorsed the measure after its business advocacy committee met several times to discuss it, said Becky Hajost, president of the Upper Arlington Chamber of Commerce.

That committee and the chamber's board of directors decided Issue 24 protected the 11 current license-holders and created "opportunity for the district's growth and continued vibrancy to maintain and grow the commercial tax base and adequately support city services and the school district," Hajost said.

She said the chamber's governing board agreed to spend up to $3,000 to campaign in support of Issue 24. In addition, she said, the chamber's business development committee and staff worked to develop a campaign strategy with the assistance of Lori Wengerd, with Home Care Assistance.

"To keep expenses down, the chamber utilized their own publication, the UA Chamber Business Monthly found in ThisWeek Newspapers/The Dispatch and tried to keep the community engaged online through the chamber website and other social media efforts," Hajost said.

"As part of the campaign strategy, chamber staff made an attempt to meet with every business owner located in the CED and spent time answering questions, passing out tent cards, posters, yard signs and listening to the business owners."

Post-election campaign expense reports, reflecting action between Oct. 17 and Dec. 7 must be filed with the board of elections by Dec. 14.

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