A cooperative economic development agreement (CEDA) has failed to bring cooperation between Powell and Liberty Township and should be dissolved, Liberty trustee Peggy Guzzo said.

A cooperative economic development agreement (CEDA) has failed to bring cooperation between Powell and Liberty Township and should be dissolved, Liberty trustee Peggy Guzzo said.

"It continues to put us in a situation where we're fighting with each other," Guzzo told ThisWeek in an interview. "The CEDA's not helping. I do think we have a problem with the CEDA that it is kind of vague and we've got two different entities interpreting it differently. It's certainly something that's only making our lawyers rich and not helping the community."

"I think it would be best if the CEDA was just dissolved because everyone is making their own rules up of how they think it's supposed to (work)," she said.

Guzzo's remarks follow Powell's latest allegations that the township has breached the contract.

Powell said Liberty violated the agreement by:

Interfering in a pre-annexation process that the owner of Market at Liberty Crossing was working on with the city.

Appealing Powell's 2007 issuing of a zoning certificate to Triangle Properties to build a 132,000-square-foot Target store. Delaware County Common Pleas Judge W. Duncan Whitney recently dismissed the township's appeal to stop construction of the store.

Guzzo lost a re-election bid in November and likely won't be a trustee when the township and city attempt to resolve the issue. The CEDA says the dispute must be resolved by "90 days after notice of dispute" or either party may file a lawsuit.

Liberty and Powell entered into the agreement in 2002, at about the same time Golf Village was annexed into Powell. The pact guides annexation of property from the township to the city. The CEDA requires that the municipalities enter mediation if one side accuses the other of violating the agreement.

In August 2008, Powell also accused the township of violating the CEDA because of Guzzo's actions regarding a citizen-led initiative petition which sought to limit commercial building square footage in the city. Powell and Liberty remain in mediation on the issue and will not comment on its status.

Guzzo said she only helped her constituents work on the initiative petition. She also said Powell's allegations about her had "no grounds" which is why the mediation has made no progress since February.

Twice since February, Liberty has officially asked Powell to meet to discuss the CEDA. The first invitation was in October: Powell said it would be best to wait until after the November elections, as the city had two council seats that would be filled by two members because two council members did not run for re-election.

The second invitation was in November: Powell said in a letter to the township that it would not meet to discuss the CEDA until its allegations of breach of contract were resolved.

The CEDA prohibits Powell from annexing land north of Home Road for 15 years, starting in 2002. It also prohibits Liberty from interfering in Powell's annexing land south of Home Road.

The agreement also prohibits Powell from "conforming its boundary" (seceding from the township) for 50 years. Powell is still part of the township and each Powell resident is a township resident. Not every township resident is a Powell resident.

Guzzo does not think Powell will secede from the township.

"I think it's an empty threat for people to be concerned that Powell will conform their boundaries if you don't have the CEDA," she said. "They're not going to do that because the citizens would have to vote on it and the citizens are not going to want to conform their boundaries and pay more taxes to get another fire department. We're too connected as a community."

Without the CEDA, Powell could conform its boundaries "via ordinance, but that would take a great deal of pre-ordinance planning and preparation," Powell spokesperson Jeff Robinson said in an e-mail.

Whatever happens, Guzzo wants to see it occur in public meetings.

"We need to try to find a way to work together, but everything needs to be in the public eye," Guzzo said. "This request of theirs to do this behind closed doors (in mediation), I absolutely disagree. The way it works, the Sunshine Law is that everything is done in front of the boss, which is the people."