Hilliard Mayor Don Schonhardt fired back at Larry Earman Monday night, saying the Norwich Township trustee was confused about the details of a proposed impact-fee agreement between the city and township.

Hilliard Mayor Don Schonhardt fired back at Larry Earman Monday night, saying the Norwich Township trustee was confused about the details of a proposed impact-fee agreement between the city and township.

Schonhardt's comments came at the end of Monday night's Hilliard City Council meeting as he spoke out in response to a June 19 article published in ThisWeek Hilliard.

"As many of you are aware, there was a story in Hilliard ThisWeek that reported Hilliard might have reneged on an agreement to provide excess impact fees levied against the Hickory Chase development to Norwich Township in support of the Norwich Township Fire Department," Schonhardt said. "First, let me assure you that simply is not true. We have been clear and unambiguous in our discussions with the Norwich Township trustees and, in fact, it was Hilliard that volunteered to provide whatever impact fees were not required to cover debt service shortfalls during the starting period, to the Norwich Township Fire Department."

In that June 19 article (Norwich: Hilliard reneged on agreement, Pg. A1) Earman said "I guess my frustration with the mayor is that it's just taught me that I can't take him at his word."

Earman said that in January the trustees had approved an offer by the city to help offset the loss of tax revenues from a Tax Increment Financing agreement granted by the city to the Hickory Chase retirement community at the intersection of Davidson Road and Britton Parkway.

Under the terms of the TIF agreement, real estate taxes from the development would help fund part of the cost of extending Britton Parkway from Davidson Road to Cemetery Road.

Larry Earman said the township stood to lose $600,000 in property taxes annually, assuming the developer maintains plans for a $200-million community.

Earman said Schonhardt promised the township would get funds from impact fees the developer would pay to the city and those funds would be used to offset the cost of runs the township Emergency Medical Services would make to the retirement community.

Earman said he believed the township had an agreement with the city until a letter from Hilliard Law Director Pamela DeDent arrived. In that letter DeDent wrote "Currently, the city is required to pay the impact fees over to the bond trustee to be held for the first 10 years."

Earman said he thought Schonhardt and the city were not honoring the agreement he thought was in place.

"Now the city is saying they'll put the impact fees into an escrow account to pay the bonds off to pay for the road and give the township what's left after 10 years," he said. Earman said he was not convinced there would be any money left after 10 years.

Schonhardt said he thought the June 19 article focused too much on Earman's comments.

"Unfortunately, most of the focus on the story was based on one trustee's misunderstanding about the agreement and his pointed accusation that I somehow broke my word to him and the other trustees," Schonhardt said. "Let me also assure you that is not true."

Schonhardt said he would "dismiss the ill-advised, intemperate and misinformed statement of trustee Larry Earman as the unfortunate product of his confusion and his obvious frustration about what he believed to be true at the time."

Schonhardt said that he was sure that in retrospect Earman would "moderate his comments and concede his own misinterpretation fed his angry response."

Schonhardt then said that despite being encouraged to "be as sharp in my response as trustee Earman was in his remarks," he would not.

"I am not going to let one untimely and ill-informed outburst taint the years of cooperation that has existed between the City of Hilliard and Norwich Township."

Schonhardt said he considers the matter closed.

"As far as I am concerned, this incident is behind us and now we must refocus on the important task of bringing more economic development to our community and serving the residents of both the city of Hilliard and Norwich Township," he said.

Earman said the dispute centers on each party's interpretation of discussions between the city and township.

"He's (Schonhardt) got one interpretation of what we discussed a year ago," he said. "I've got another interpretation. Obviously we don't have the same recollection to exactly why I stated in our township trustee meeting that I am frustrated we didn't get it in writing, so, now we're debating who said what. If we had created a document a year ago or more, then we wouldn't be having the discussion if we had gotten it in writing."