First road to Berlin Business Park on the way

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Delaware County appears to be poised to convert Fields of Dreams into what will become Berlin’s Business Park in the Canton of Berlin.

The bids were received before the Oct. 25 deadline for the construction of Reed Parkway, and an offer recommendation is expected to be presented to Delaware County commissioners in the coming weeks, County Engineer Lee Bodnar said. Details of the offer are not yet available, he said.

“This is the first segment of the road that will serve the Berlin business park,” he said.

The 1,101-foot section of road will be constructed on a field west of Lackey Old State Road, approximately half a mile south of US Highway 36 / National Highway 37, and is scheduled for completion in June 2022 , did he declare. The county’s tentative schedule shows the award of a construction contract on Nov. 15, with construction starting in the spring.

Work on the nearly 1,800-acre business park began in the spring of 2019, with county-to-township planning starting two or three years earlier, said Bob Lamb, the former economic development administrator of the county. This week in June 2019. The goal, he said, was to position the 36/37 corridor for smart growth.

The administrators of the canton of Berlin approved the commercial overlay of the business park in December 2020 after a series of public hearings that followed the recommendation for approval by the canton’s zoning commission in October 2019, according to the minutes. of the canton. The industrial overlay was approved in November 2020.

A little "Reed Route" sign is shown in August 2021 at the site (looking west) where Reed Parkway will connect to Lackey Old State Road in Canton Berlin.

Berlin Township Administrator Ron Bullard said he was delighted to see tangible work begin on a plan that has been going on for years.

“There is a lot of excitement to see what companies are growing out there,” he said.

Bullard said the township has been working with businesses and residents to find a way to make people’s lives and jobs easier instead of having to drive several minutes out of town.

The preparation included an electrical substation built a few years ago on Lackey Old State Road in anticipation of development in the region in general, he said.

“Financially the canton of Berlin needs more commercial income, and 36/37 is the area we prefer to get it from,” said David Loveless, zoning inspector for the canton of Berlin. This week in 2019.

According to a county-run website dedicated to the park, berlinbusinesspark.com, the park is “open, zoned, and ready” to accommodate businesses.

“This 1,800-acre business park has been pre-zoned for light industrial and commercial businesses, as well as professional offices, medical practices and retail,” the site says.

Rob Platte, the county’s economic development administrator and contact listed on the website, said This week that Reed Parkway is the first tangible part of the whole concept – the “key” to the whole development.

A pumping station and water tower will be installed along Reed, which will eventually be extended west and northwest to development areas. The area near Reed is the low point and will serve as a utility and sewer base for eventual commercial and industrial development, Platte said. The county is working with Del-Co Water Co. to determine where to put a water tower near Reed, he said.

Real business and industrial development is unlikely to happen for 18 months to two years, Platte said. Once Reed is built in June, work will focus on a pumping station and water tower, and those facilities are expected to last that long, he said.

“I don’t see it for two years, but it might be right then,” Platte said.

No company is under contract or committed yet, he said, although several have expressed interest.

Most of the commercial and industrial development will take place in the west and northwest, straddling highways 36 and 37, he said.

In his case for a tax hike funding deal, Platte told the Olentangy school board in June that some residential uses are also possible, as well as restaurants.

He told council that the park, which was originally planned for 2,000 acres but has been reduced to 1,790 acres, is designed to attract commercial and light industry businesses, as well as retail and medical offices. .

The school board voted to approve a 20-year 75% TIF for the business park.

A TIF is an economic development mechanism made available to local governments to fund improvements to public infrastructure and, in certain circumstances, residential rehabilitation, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.

A TIF locks in the assessed value of real estate at the value it holds at the time the authorizing legislation is approved, diverting the resulting additional income to designated uses, such as funding improvements or infrastructure needed to support a business. new development.

Revenues that exceed the locked-in land assessment are diverted from entities that typically receive property tax revenues, including school districts, park districts, libraries, and fire departments.

In Platte’s presentation to the school board, he said that if the county and township had left the land alone and available for single-family home development, the district could have accommodated up to 2,800 new students. Limiting it to primarily industrial and commercial uses made it a “smart growth” plan, he said.

Platte said This week that the county also consider the possibility of a Joint Economic Development District, or JEDD.

Under a JEDD agreement, an incorporated municipality administers and imposes an income tax rate on a designated area in a township, which does not have the power under Ohio law to impose a income tax. The municipality and the canton then share the local tax revenues on the basis of a formula agreed in the contract.

Revenues from JEDD can be used to promote economic development and for infrastructure, planning, engineering costs, and other development issues in the district.

Berlin administrators have discussed a JEDD, Bullard said.

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