As they wait for money to roll in from the newly formed joint economic development zone, Blendon Township officials are preparing for capital improvements to enhance the look of the township.
"We definitely want to do some projects this year to say to people, 'Thanks,' " said Blendon Township Administrator Bryan Rhoads.
Blendon Township voters approved the joint economic development zone with Westerville in November. The agreement applies Westerville's 2-percent income tax employees of businesses operating in Blendon Township.
Township businesses will begin deducting the tax from workers' paychecks in February, Rhoads said. The township will begin receiving the money, through Westerville, in April.
The township is working with engineers on designs for Westerville Road streetscape improvements and improvements to Blendon Township "gateways," including the entrance to the township at state Route 161 and Buenos Aires Boulevard and the small park at Dempsey and Hempstead roads, dubbed Phelps Acre.
"We're getting a lot of engineering-type work done," Rhoads said. "We have the Westerville Road corridor designed; we just have to wait for the funding to come through."
The township is looking to obtain funds for the improvements through Ohio Department of Transportation grants specifically for gateway improvements, to help money collected through the joint economic development zone go further, Rhoads said.
In addition to planning improvements, the township also is working on developing its own zoning code, which would go before voters in November.
"We wanted to put zoning on the ballot last year and make it a package (with the joint economic development zone and home rule), but we got a little overwhelmed," Rhoads said. "We want to take control of our own land use."
The township has created a zoning commission to work on the code. The commission will use Franklin County's code and tailor it to Blendon Township, Rhoads said.
Once the commission has drafted and approved the code, it will go to the Blendon Township Board of Trustees for placement on the November ballot.
Through the development process, there will be public hearings to allow for input from residents, Rhoads said.
Township officials also have met with representatives of Aqua Ohio and Franklin County to see what can be done to address residents' complaints about poor water quality and high water prices, something township officials said they would work to address if residents approved the joint economic development zone and home-rule initiatives last November.
Ideally, Rhoads said, the township would take ownership of the water treatment plant and provide water service to residents.
"We want that system," Rhoads said. "We're not in the business to make profits; they are. We would only need to charge what we need (for operations) and to do some capital improvements."
All of the projects being worked on by Blendon Township, along with drawings and progress updates, are available on the Blendon Township website, BlendonTwp.org.