2011-06-11 / News

Township loses more property to Heath

By Scott Rawdon

UNION TOWNSHIP – The Coughlin Auto Group plans to build a Toyota dealership on a 5.6-acre lot adjacent to the group’s Hyundai dealership near Ohio 79 and Ridgley Tract Road, but it needs to annex the Union Township property into the City of Heath to make it happen.

Attorney Connie Klema told the Union Township Trustees during their Monday night meeting that Coughlin is working through an expedited annexation process that foregoes public hearings, but still requires the City of Heath, Union Township Trustees, and Licking County Commissioners to approve the annexation. Heath City Council members approved a pre-annexation agreement Monday night. Klema said the township wouldn’t lose tax revenue from the property immediately; the township would continue to collect revenue for several years. “It really comes down to taxes for you,” Klema told trustees.

Tuesday, Heath Division of Building and Zoning Chief John Groff said the Coughlin Group plans to build a Toyota dealership with a 22,000 square feet building on the site of the “old ODOT lot” at Ohio 79 and Ridgley Tract Road, next to the existing Hyundai dealership. “That’s in Heath,” said Groff of the Hyundai lot. But, in order for the new Toyota dealership to receive Heath utilities and services, it must be annexed.

“Union Township will lose property tax,” said Groff, however state law require the township to be compensated. “An arrangement will be made to compensate the township,” he assured.

Assistant Licking County Prosecutor Eric Fox said the details of the arrangement have yet to be disclosed. “Any opinion presented by our office to the trustees would be subject to attorney-client privilege and I cannot disclose any of that information,” he said. “At this point the agreement has not been signed by all of the parties, and until it is, I would rather not comment on the compensation aspect.”

Groff said the annexation may be expedited, and no public hearings are required, because the properties are adjacent, Coughlin already owns the adjacent property, and the annexation includes no other properties. “(Coughlin) isn’t taking anyone else with it,” he said. Trustees and the Licking County Commissioners must approve the annexation before it goes back to Heath for final approval. Groff estimates that assuming the annexation is approved, construction of the Toyota dealership should begin late August.

In other township news:

• The Shelly Company was the sole bidder for several road maintenance projects, which the trustees narrowed down to three as priorities. Refugee Road will be resurfaced from Ohio 37 to Gale Road at a cost of $72,432 and Sycamore Road and Margaret Lane will be resurfaced at a combined cost of $45,100.

“The other projects are still pending,” said Trustee President John Slater. He said the three aforementioned projects are more weather sensitive because they will be motor paved, which requires proper weather conditions to set correctly. Slater said other completed projects, like Grand Pointe, were paved too late in the year. As a result, the paving was too pliable and unable to support the weight of large trucks and farm equipment.

Slater said several contractors requested information about the projects and he wasn’t sure why Shelly was the only bidder. “It’s a mystery,” he said.

• Slater estimates it will be another six weeks before the new township complex is ready to house the Union Township Police Department. The complex is receiving security upgrades to accommodate the police department. “My best guess is six weeks,” he said. “That’s our optimistic goal.”

• Slater said the township resolved a water drainage issue at the intersection of Sycamore and Refugee roads. He said a drainage pipe was plugged with debris, but now it’s clear.

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