The groundwork has been laid for the New Albany Co. to begin marketing a 484.4-acre tract in earnest – most likely for another New Albany data center.

New Albany City Council on July 2 voted 7-0 to approve two ordinances that rezoned the land and established a tax-increment-financing district there.

In May, City Council approved the annexation of the land from Jersey Township. The tract is east of Beech Road, west of Clover Valley Road, north of Jug Street and south of Miller Road.

Aaron Underhill, a legal representative for the New Albany Co., said the company’s goal is to capitalize on the recipe it and the city have been using to attract such businesses as Facebook and Google. Both companies are building data centers in the New Albany International Business Park.

The New Albany Co. is marketing the land for a data center, but if that isn’t successful, other uses could be considered, Underhill said. The site could accommodate one or more users, he said.

The rezoning designates the land as limited general employment, which will allow such uses as warehouse and distribution, research and production and general office activities, in addition to data centers, according to the council legislative report. The land previously was zoned as an agricultural district, the legislative report said.

The site is bounded by neighborhoods to the northeast and west of Beech Road, Underhill said.

Accommodations for the neighbors include mounds and landscape screening, protection of a 51-acre wooded area in the north central portion of the site and significantly increased building and pavement setbacks as compared to nearby zoning districts, he said.

“We have also provided a restriction against vehicular access being provided across from the subdivision to the west,” Underhill said.

A few residents living near the site attended the July 2 meeting, saying they were concerned about a potential development’s effect on traffic and safety.

Ken Erickson, who lives on the 2800 block of Beech Road, said he is concerned about increased traffic volume in an area where many children and bicycles are present.

“I just don’t think that’s right,” he said.

Erika Dietzel, who lives on the 2900 block of Beech Road, described the road as a “race track.” Development shouldn’t be all about money, she said.

“It’s about people and families,” she said.

Dietzel said she wanted a proposed access point at the development site to be farther away from nearby residences.

That access point is near the intersection of Fitzwilliam Lane and Beech Road, Underhill said. Because of the nearby residential area, the New Albany Co. will not build an access point within 450 feet of the intersection to the south toward Jug Street or 650 feet to the north of the intersection, he said.

Those who spoke to council members during the meeting were against adding that access point farther south near the Beech and Jug intersection, Underhill said. But if a development were to be built there, an access point would have to be built there if a traffic analysis warranted it, he said.

Tom Rubey, development director for the New Albany Co. development, said during the meeting no end user for the land has been identified.

The use, for example, office, distribution or data center, as well as the number of users, would dictate what improvements might be needed, Rubey said.

Underhill told residents a traffic analysis would be required before any construction takes place at the site.

The New Albany Co. has committed to updating any traffic study if future development – either a second phase from an initial user or the advent of additional users – changes the situation from the assumptions used in the original traffic analysis, he said.

About the TIF

The “nonschool” TIF for the land is within the Johnstown-Monroe Local School District, according to the council legislative report.

The ordinance approved July 2 by City Council authorized the city manager to enter into one or more TIF agreements on the land, said New Albany community-development director Jennifer Chrysler. That means city leaders would not have to return to City Council to offer TIF incentives to a prospective business, she 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.

Revenue that exceeds the locked-in valuation of the land is diverted from the entities that typically receive property-tax revenue, including school districts, parks districts, libraries and fire departments.

In the case of a nonschool TIF, the additional property-tax revenue is diverted from all entities except school districts, according to Chrysler. Recent state legislation added vocational schools to that exception, she said.

In addition, the annexation agreement between Jersey Township and New Albany says that if the city redirects real-property-tax revenue through a TIF, it would pay the township an amount equal to the real-property-tax revenue the township would have received for fire and emergency-medical services if the TIF were not in place, according to Chrysler.

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