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Council Hires Law Firm To Investigate Possible Opioid Lawsuit, Approves Two Tax Breaks

Columbus City Council last night approved a 10-year, 75-percent property tax abatement for a developer who plans to build a hotel, office space, restaurant and a parking garage on the site of the former Haiku restaurant building on North High Street in the Short North. Completion of the project is expected in the fall of 2019.  The development is expected to create 30 new jobs. Community activist and former city council candidate Joe Motil spoke against the measure.

A draft of a city-funded study released this year found developers do not need incentives for residential projects in some areas.  Columbus Development Director Steve Schoeny says this abatement is for the commercial portion. Council also approved two economic development agreements with Wagenbrenner Development, a frequent contributor to the campaigns of Mayor Andy Ginther and council members. One covers a 607 acre site near Dublin and Trabue Roads. Wagenbrenner plans to turn former a quarry and landfill into a metro park and a mixed used development. Schoeny says the park element is exciting.


The second deal covers a site at Dublin Road and Grandview Avenue, where the company plans to turn a former landfill into a mixed used development with office, retail and residential space, including some affordable housing units. Schoney says the landfill work is expensive.


Council also approved hiring a local law firm to advise the city on whether to sue drug companies to recover the costs associated with handling the fallout of the opioid crisis. Josh Cox with the City Attorney's office says the firm's compensation would be based on it's ability to recover money from the companies.


It's not clear who the defendants would be, but one of the distributors being sued by other communities is Dublin-based Cardinal Health, one of the region's most powerful corporations.  Fairfield County Commissioners recently announced plans to file a lawsuit against major drug distributors and manufacturers, making the county the 20th in Ohio that has filed or is in the process of filing suit. The county has not publicly identified the potential defendants. Council also approve higher water and sewer rates for next year.

Jim has been with WCBE since 1996. Before that he worked as a reporter at another Columbus radio station, and for three newspapers in Southwest Florida.
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