Westerville News & Public Opinion

Blendon Township reaps rewards of home rule, JEDZ


Four months after Blendon Township voters approved a joint economic development zone agreement with and home-rule authority, township officials are taking action with those measures.

Blendon Township Trustees have contracted with Franklin County for nearly $458,000 in road repairs, including new asphalt, curbs and ADA-compliant sidewalk ramps, this year.

That compares with about $100,000 spent on road repairs in the township last year, said Blendon Township Administrator Bryan Rhoads, and the increase was possible because of money brought in through the joint economic development zone agreement.

The agreement applies Westerville's 2-percent income tax to employees working in Blendon Township's commercial properties.

A small portion of the money collected is retained by the city for administrative costs. Of the rest, Blendon Township receives 70 percent, and Westerville 30 percent to provide the township with economic development services.

During the campaign, officials estimated that the joint economic development zone would bring in $2.5 million annually in tax collections.

The additional funds will allow Blendon Township to get caught up on its road maintenance schedule, Rhoads said, a process he said he expects to take two years.

"It's going to take one or two more years to get completely caught up. (Spending) around this amount of money for the next year or two will get us in very good shape," Rhoads said.

The township used its home-rule authority when trustees voted Feb. 27 on a deal with the Del-Co Water Company to provide water services to the Rolling Ridge subdivision, located off of Ulry Road.

"For their neighborhood, forever they've had a well system, an on-site well system that treats the water then pumps it throughout the neighborhood," Rhoads said.

However, the levels of contaminants violated EPA standards, Rhoads said, and the EPA was pressuring residents to find a water alternative.

Because the subdivision is closest to city of Columbus water lines, it would have needed to be annexed into Columbus to receive water service without Blendon Township's intervention, Rhoads said.

The township received permission from Columbus to have the subdivision served by Delaware County. The trustees approved three payments of $47,600 to Delaware County to help cover the costs.

The agreement was only possible because home-rule authority allows the township to contract for water and sewer services, something township officials didn't have the power to do before.

"This contract would not be possible if the residents didn't pass the home-rule question on the ballot last November," said township Trustee Stew Flaherty.

After the time spent working on getting the joint economic development agreement and home-rule authority approved, Rhoads said township officials are happy to be able to take action based on those measure on behalf of residents.

"It makes us feel really good to show the residents that the time and effort that we put in and the effort that they put in ... it's going to pay off, and it already is," Rhoads said.