The extension of water and sewer service from the city of Columbus -- without annexation -- has been a pipe dream in Prairie Township for decades.

The extension of water and sewer service from the city of Columbus -- without annexation -- has been a pipe dream in Prairie Township for decades.

The township announced to residents at the April 22 board of trustees meeting that Columbus and Franklin County have signed off on legislation that will not only allow water and sewer without annexation, but that sets the framework for future development in the Big Darby Accord area.

Township administrator Tracy Hatmaker said the move was historic and will allow the construction of approximately 1,000 homes on 300 acres in Galloway. The existing residents will also have the opportunity to tap into the sewer system, he said.

The water and sewer agreement was made official last week at the April 20 Columbus City Council meeting, Hatmaker said.

In addition to the extension of water and sewer service, Columbus and Franklin County also adopted two measures township trustees also approved unanimously on April 22. The first was the approval of a consultant participation agreement with Urban Design Group of Pittsburgh for the Big Darby Accord Town Center Master Plan. The second was the approval of a revised Big Darby Revenue Program, which outlines how revenues would be raised and collected.

Trustees said the legislation sets the framework for future development in the Big Darby Accord area.

The participation agreement is in preparation for the creation of the Town Center Master Plan, Hatmaker said. The Town Center is considered the area west of a line running north from U.S. Route 40 and Amity Road, north of U.S. 40 east of West Point and Lake Darby Estates subdivision and south of I-70 for mixed use development that will include 5,000 single-family residential units.

"This would also be an area to receive sewer and water without annexation," Hatmaker said.

He said the project totals $500,000 and is to be split among the city of Columbus, Franklin County, Prairie Township and Brown Township. Brown and Prairie will each assume $85,000 of the cost while Columbus will pick up $50,000 and the county picks up $280,000.

Trustee Steve Kennedy said there have been a lot of residents who didn't believe that the township could work collaboratively and cooperatively with Columbus.

"This water and sewer agreement is the first since Lincoln Village was built," Kennedy said. "For the first time in 50 years an unincorporated part of the township will get housing that we want. A lot of people came to work together."

Trustee Nicole Schlosser said taking control of development in the township is key.

"We want to be poised for the right type of growth to make sure we planned this out well," she said.

Township resident Neil Distelhorst said he worries about the effect of so many homes on Galloway.

"I wanted someone to worry about this a long time ago," he said. "That's a huge development for this township. There will be a lot of kids. I guarantee you there will be more tax levies for new schools. Another point that concerns me is the fire department. Will they need more manpower, equipment and possibly another fire house? It will affect all township residents."

Schlosser said there is a group in charge of strategic planning for infrastructure needs.

"They make sure the funding model supports growth like schools, fire and roads," she said.

Hatmaker said the revenue agreement trustees just approved states how revenues would be raised for infrastructure in the Town Center area. One way would be through a TIF (Tax Increment Financing). Some of that money would be channeled into Big Darby projects, Hatmaker said.

"We want growth to pay for itself and not come back and burden current residents," Hatmaker said.

Hatmaker said Brown Township is slated to vote for the same two pieces of legislation at its May 18 meeting. Pleasant Township will be voting only on the revenue agreement at an upcoming meeting as well.

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