West Jefferson Village Council have moved ahead with plans to annex nearly 300 acres of prime development land along Interstate 70 between Byerly Road and the Deercreek Township line — an area often referred to as Madison County’s “golden triangle.”
Council members on Monday approved terms of a pre-annexation agreement with the Paul J. Flucke Trust. The trust owns nearly 1,000 acres bordered by the village, Byerly Road and Interstate 70, but is seeking annexation of only 297 within Jefferson Township.
All is currently zoned for light industrial and retail use. The proposed annexation will hinge on re-zoning as a commercial district.
Under terms of the agreement, Jefferson Township will provide fire and emergency services to the property once development begins, while the village will extend water and sewer lines to the area. The trust and developers will assume responsibility for constructing internal roads and erecting fire hydrants.
Future developers will get a 30-year property tax abatement. But the village will benefit from income taxes paid by employees of businesses that locate there. The language is standard in the world of Tax Increment Funding (TIF). Other businesses in the West Jefferson Commerce Park receive similar benefits.
Mayor Ray Martin was quick to say it was the Flucke Trust — and not the village — that is seeking annexation. However, annexation would benefit the village taxwise.
Regardless, it has sparked controversy between the village and the Madison County commissioners, according to a July 7 story in The Madison Press.
The county is already building a new water treatment facility and tower at U.S. 42 and Interstate 70 in hopes of luring business to that location.
Commissioner Paul Gross previously questioned West Jefferson’s capability of handling additional water and sewer demands if the Flucke parcel is developed.
However, John Mitchell, director of public service for the village, said that won’t be a problem since those plants are currently pumping at only 50 percent capacity and will soon expand.
Jefferson Township trustees will “weigh in” on the proposed annexation before it goes to the commissioners. The pre-annexation agreement was on the agenda for discussion at the July 20 regular meeting, according to trustee Jeff Pfeil.
In the past, Pfeil has expressed concern about tax abatements associated with developing the property. Abatements would burden township residents with the cost of fire and EMS runs to future businesses at the site — at least until the abatements expire, he said.
If the township nixes annexation, the matter will go to a hearing before the commissioners within 30 to 45 days. If the commissioners deny annexation, attorneys for the Flucke Trust can take the issue to common pleas court.
Either party can appeal any decision by the local court.
Jane Beathard is a contributing writer for The Madison Press