Powell officials plan to use annexation to extend the city's boundaries west and add 1 acre of land and a proposed business.

Powell City Council voted unanimously Feb. 21 to approve a preannexation agreement with Arc Sawmill, a corporation that owns about 1 acre northeast of Sawmill Parkway's intersection with Bunker Lane. Wireless provider Verizon plans to open a 2,300-square-foot store at the site, according to city records.

While all of Powell's councilmen voted to approve the agreement, one aspect of the pact troubled some members. Under the agreement, the store could be constructed based on a development plan as well as engineering and zoning requirements already approved by Liberty Township.

Councilman Jim Hrivnak said he worried the agreement might look like "forum shopping" -- a developer seeking to gain approvals from Liberty Township in order to avoid initially dealing with the city.

City Law Director Gene Hollins said in this case the developer used the township's speedier review process to meet deadlines, not to avoid the city's requirements.

"We understand the concern and will keep a lookout for it in the future to make sure it's not used as a mechanism to avoid our standards," he said.

Mayor Brian Lorenz said he found the situation "troublesome."

"We want these businesses," he said. "We need their tax revenue, but at what point do we draw the line in the sand when we're compromising?"

Lorenz said he did not have any particular complaints with the design of the Verizon building, but he worried about the possibility of setting a precedent.

City Manager Steve Lutz said the city could deny the annexation request, but it would lose out on potential income-tax revenue.

He said the site would be developed as a Verizon store either way.

If the annexation goes forward, the property will be added to the Seldom Seen tax-increment financing district. A tax-increment financing district, or TIF, diverts funding from property-tax revenue collected based on improvements within the area and uses it to fund nearby infrastructure upgrades.

Hollins said the city's administration set annexation as a requirement for the proposed store to have an entrance off Bunker Lane.

"Frankly, our businesses up there built that road and we felt if they were going to have access to it, they needed to annex and pay their fair share," he said.

The new building would sit just west of the Powell Grand senior-rental complex.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@TWGallick