Westerville News & Public Opinion

Extension of PROS tax up to voters

Council sends 20-year extension of 0.25-percent income tax for parks to Nov. 5 ballot

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At its final regular meeting of the summer July 1, Westerville City Council unanimously passed a resolution to place a 20-year extension of the city's 0.25-percent income tax for parks projects on November's ballot.

Initially passed by voters in 1998, the Parks Recreation and Open Space tax was used to build the Westerville Community Center, new parks and multiuse trails across the community, and make improvements to every existing park in the city.

The existing PROS tax, being used to repay bonds that funded more than $30 million in city parks projects, was set to expire in 2020. But Westerville officials said voter approval of an extension of the tax through 2040 is needed now to fund a new ambitious slate of parks projects.

Councilman Mike Heyeck said securing the dedicated income source for another 20 years will allow the city to issue another set of long-term bonds for more parks and recreation facility improvements.

"We need (the extension) so that we can bond what we actually need to do," he said.

Council members engaged in little discussion on the matter July 1, and praised the parks department for not requesting any additional funds. There was no public comment against the matter, and no public hearing.

Westerville city voters will see the issue on the Nov. 4 ballot. All people employed within the city limits are subject to the tax.

VW dealership approved

In other business at the July 1 meeting, a new Volkswagen dealership is on its way to Westerville after City Council approved an ordinance that allows for a major plan modification at the northeast corner of Polaris Parkway and Worthington Road.

The 7-acre parcel where the dealership will locate is owned by the N.P. Limited partnership as part of its 127-acre tract of land known as the Zumstein Property.

The land is zoned as a Planned Development District and office and retail uses previously were planned. Council had to approve the major modification of its development plan to allow for the dealership.

Previous concerns from council about a car dealership on the site largely dealt with their interest in a "gateway" feature for the city, members said.

Council members identified the corner of Worthington Road and Polaris Parkway as a gateway to the city, and did not want parking or other vehicles visible from the road.

Instead, they were interested in a tall building that worked as an entryway to Westerville, and would hide the development behind it. They were hoping for an office building, but Volkswagen returned with a specially designed building that won them over with its unique styling and compliance with their wishes.

Council members said they were impressed by the building, and all but Councilwoman-Mayor Diane Fosselman voted for the ordinance.

Fosselman, however, said was still concerned with the added traffic burden caused by the dealership, and said she would prefer office buildings.

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