Despite heavy opposition from residents, a request to rezone 24 acres in order to build a large apartment complex will get a second chance before the Reynoldsburg Planning Commission.
The commission already has recommended the city not approve the original request from Metro Development to rezone property in the 9300 block of Taylor Road from CC (community commerce district) to PND (planned neighborhood development) and Reynoldsburg City Council was expected to take a final vote on it April 9.
Instead, council sent the request back to the planning commission.
"The developer asked if we could refer it back to the planning commission, since they were submitting an amended plan after public input," Councilman Brett Luzader said. "So it will go back to that commission in May or June.
"We want to give the developer our due diligence on this issue," he said.
Representatives from Metro Development met with Taylor Road residents April 5 to present changes to the proposal in an effort to convince them the project is a good fit for the neighborhood. As of last week, city Development Director Andrew Bowsher said Metro had not yet submitted a revised plan to the city.
The developer's original plan called for an apartment complex of two- and three-story buildings on property north of Kroger near the Taylor Road-Main Street intersection.
The project included 48 one-bedroom units of 675 square feet each and 92 two-bedroom units of about 933 square feet each, plus a clubhouse and pool and about 13.5 acres of open space and landscaping.
Luzader said it would have taken six council votes April 9 to overturn the planning commission's denial.
Councilman Marshall Spalding said he has listened to many residents opposed to the project.
"I have received many emails, phone calls and have had residents come to council meetings and talk to me before and after the meetings about their wishes for the apartments to be turned down," he said.
If the planning commission turns down the rezoning request a second time, council members likely would do the same.
"My personal opinion is that it likely will not be approved due to the heavy opposition from the neighbors," Spalding said.
Many residents have expressed concerns about traffic if the complex were built.
Luzader and Debbie Dunlap, a member of a steering committee working on a comprehensive development plan for Reynoldsburg, have both said approval of major projects in the city should wait until that plan is approved. Spalding agreed.
"We would like to see the plan before we start doing projects such as this that may, in fact, be in a totally different direction than the committee is moving," he said. "I find it difficult to support this project, but will wait to hear from the planning commission."
TIFs and taxes
Alternatively, Bowsher said rezoning the property could help Reynoldsburg grow.
"We're doing everything we can to ensure we grow smartly and not just for the sake of growth," he said. "One of the reasons we chose to rezone the entire project to PND is so the city could have more control over what was acceptable on this land, which isn't the case with the current zoning."
Two tax increment financing (TIF) agreements already are in place for the property, Bowsher said.
A TIF is an economic-development mechanism available to local governments to finance public-infrastructure improvements and, in certain circumstances, residential rehabilitation, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.
A TIF locks in the taxable worth of real property at the value it holds at the time the authorizing legislation is approved, diverting resulting incremental revenue to designated uses, such as funding necessary improvements or infrastructure to support a new development.
"Two TIFs were enacted in 2006," Bowsher said. "Because a TIF takes the current taxable value set forth by the county auditor at the time of the enacting, any improvement which would add to that taxable value would go into that TIF fund, instead of diverting it to other entities."
He said the two TIFs are project or parcel TIFs, which fund infrastructure improvements that directly benefit the surrounding parcels. These could include public roads and highways, water and sewer lines, environmental remediation and demolition.
Bowsher said when the TIFs were enacted, it was agreed they would include "payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs)," as agreements among the developer, city and school district.
"This is to ensure that the funds that would have been normally diverted still get paid to the school district," he said. "In the past, this wasn't part of original TIF deals and it hurt school districts by adding undesired strain, while providing little financial help."
He said the TIFs "have a running clock of 30 years."
"Once the 30 years are up, then the TIF goes away," he said. "TIFs are primarily used to improve the surrounding area of a new development to accommodate the added strain to the surrounding infrastructure. It's a tool all municipalities in Ohio have to ensure that when growing outward, the city has funds to provide the services we are required to provide."
Bowsher said unlike what many think, a TIF is not a benefit for or against a developer.
"The developer pays the same amount regardless," he said. "This is simply a way for the city to gain a larger portion of those taxes for up to 30 years. Once complete, it will divert back to the traditional tax.
"No other tax incentive or abatement is being used," he said. "Metro Development approached the city and submitted the required documentation."