Hilliard and Norwich Township officials are working together to identify the location of a fourth township fire station and possibly the city's first police substation.

Hilliard and Norwich Township officials are working together to identify the location of a fourth township fire station and possibly the city's first police substation.

Fire Chief Jeff Warren said the station would be built on the city's far west side, where residential development continues to expand.

"I want it as far west as possible, yet still within the (Columbus water and sewer) service area," Warren said.

No site has been identified, but a preferable location is on Scioto Darby between Cosgray and Langton roads, according to city and township officials. It is yet to be determined if the new station also would house a police substation.

The area is part of a conservation district that regulates residential density, but distance and other factors are a growing concern as development continues, Warren said.

The fire department strives not to have a service area greater than four miles from its three stations, but once development reaches as far west as Langton Road, it would be a little more than five miles from the nearest current station: Station 82 on Walker Road in Brown Township. Meanwhile, Station 81 is at Northwest Parkway and Avery Road and Station 83 is at Davidson Road and Trueman Boulevard.

"With new residences comes more traffic ... and that can increase response times," Warren said.

He said that increase hasn't happened yet, but leaders don't want wait for it to occur before working on a plan.

Mayor Don Schonhardt said he and Trustee Chairman Tim Roberts, a retired Norwich firefighter, have been discussing a site for a fire station in the Big Darby Accord conservation district for about 18 months.

"As we have talked to landowners and developers looking to annex into Hilliard from Brown Township, we have always told them that we will be requiring a site for the Norwich Township Fire Department to locate a facility," Schonhardt said.

Roberts said he first considered the need for a station in the western expanses of the city in late 2013, after Brown Township voters rejected a fire levy, which raised the specter of Norwich needing a new station.

Brown Township owns Station 82 but Norwich staffs it. However, Brown Township voters approved a levy in 2014 allowing for the cooperative agreement between the townships to continue.

"But I kept up the conversation about the need for a fire station in that area as development continues (to the west)," Roberts said.

Warren lauded city officials for listening and being proactive.

"I don't see a station there in the 24 to 36 months ... but I'd like to see one under roof (in five years). I have lobbied City Council and they have been attentive. They have listened," he said, especially Schonhardt and City Council President Nathan Painter.

Although construction is several years away, Warren said, he hopes a site is identified soon.

"We want it on a map so residents know (where it will be) ... and that a great deal of foresight went into the planning," Warren said.

Norwich Township might require a fire levy to equip and staff a fourth station, Trustee Larry Earman said.

"Adding a medic (unit) and engine to cover this new location (is likely) not possible without additional funds," Earman said, because much of the tax revenue for commercial development in the area is applied to tax-increment-financing districts.

Hilliard and Norwich Township have been at odds in recent years concerning the city's use of TIFs.

A TIF is an economic-development mechanism available to local governments to finance public-infrastructure improvements. It locks in the taxable worth of real property at the time of the TIF's creation, diverting resulting incremental revenue to designated uses, such as funding infrastructure to support the new development, for a proscribed length of time.