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Council Rejects Placing Ward Representation Measure On Ballot; Creates EDA For Harrison West Project

Feb 27, 2018

Columbus City Hall
Credit WCBE files

Columbus City Council last night rejected placing on the May ballot a plan to expand the panel and create district or ward representation.

The group called Everyday People for Positive Change submitted petition signatures this month for the plan. Columbus City Attorney and former City Council president Zach Klein ruled the proposal does not satisfy a provision of the city charter creating single subject rules for ballot initiatives.

The proposal would have added six seats to the seven-member council, with 10 of the seats elected via wards. The group says the topics are related to council's organization. Former City Attorney Rick Pfeiffer wrote a memo in April 2017 warning the group about the failure to meet the charter provision. Council also approved an economic development agreement with Perry Street LLC, a partnership formed by Wagenbrenner Development and others, to rehab a former manufacturing site owned by Battelle at West 5th Avenue and Perry Street. Plans are to build hundreds of new residential units, a grocery store, a hotel and a park on 15 acres of the site, according to Battelle spokesperson Patrick Jarvis.

The sale price is 17 million dollars. The city plans to offer a 10-year, 75 percent property-tax abatement for the development and create a tax increment financing district. The city also plans to use 2.2 million dollars in TIF money to reimburse the developer for the parkland. Columbus Development Director Steve Schoeny says while the project does include affordable housing, it is not consistent with the new tax break guidelines Mayor Andy Ginther announced in January.

The EDA was approved despite objections from Harrison West residents who said they wanted to preserve the open space. The entire cost of the project has not been disclosed. Work is expected to begin later this year.