Route 23 overlay approval ends moratorium

Orange Township’s moratorium on applications for new development in its Highway 23 Corridor Overlay District is set to end August 1, now that township administrators on June 21 approved the latest in a series of revisions. district requirements.

The district covers a large section adjacent to Route 23 for most of its length in the township, beginning just south of Powell Road and extending north to Shanahan Road.

The moratorium was created by administrators on September 20, 2021 to allow staff and township legal counsel to review the provisions of Section 20 of the township’s zoning code, which sets out requirements for developments in the district.

Throughout discussions of the Section 20 update, township officials said the purpose of the work was to influence primarily commercial development along the highway.

Administrator Brian Grumbles said after the June 21 meeting that the township has specific goals in mind.

“We limit the area of ​​applicants to overlay zoning,” he said. “We hope to attract a diverse business base. To facilitate this, we want to eliminate big box type applications. ‘Orange. “

Administrator Lisa Knapp said the revisions also meet other goals, such as banning gas stations and automotive-related uses and requiring new developments to join the Joint Economic Development District. planned by the canton.

A JEDD is a special purpose territorial district created by contract between municipalities and townships for the purpose of encouraging economic development, according to The Ohio State University Extension. Typically, such an objective is achieved by levying an income tax in the district. Tax revenues are shared between the JEDD parties and are used to provide additional services, new facilities or improved infrastructure in the JEDD, depending on the terms of the contract.

Once a township and municipality agree on a JEDD, the township, if the administrators are unanimous in their support, can decide whether or not to go to voters for approval. If the decision is to avoid a resident vote, residents could request a referendum, according to information from the Delaware County Regional Planning Commission.

Ben Grumbles and Lisa Knapp

“JEDD … will bring income tax revenue into the township,” Knapp said. “Our road levy funds are running out fast, with our aging road system in need of repairs.”

Township administrator Michele Boni said This week that JEDDs allow townships and municipalities to associate and levy income tax in a designated area and share the tax revenue. Otherwise, the cantons do not have the power to levy income tax.

She said the township is having preliminary talks with the city of Worthington, which could lead to the JEDD being finalized this fall.

In September, Worthington approved a deal with Sharon Township on a JEDD area that includes the Olentangy Valley Center shopping complex, Worthington officials said.

Knapp said another requirement of the Section 20 revisions is that in mixed-use development areas, a minimum of 20% of the gross floor area of ​​all buildings must be dedicated to non-residential use, such as commercial.

“This helps to ensure that an area is not built as primarily residential with a tiny amount of retail included to make it ‘mixed use,'” Knapp said.

During the June 21 meeting, Township Development Zoning Director Robin Duffee outlined the latest revisions, outlined in a memo from zoning staff.

They further include a ban on multi-family dwellings except as part of a mixed-use development, and the definition of mixed-use has been updated to include stand-alone residential buildings.

Work on overlay revisions began after the township received a request for a Sheetz gas station-restaurant — proposed at US 23 and Orange Road — in early 2021.

Citing traffic as their top concern, administrators denied the request in September.

The developers then sued, alleging the township was not following its zoning code. A settlement was reached in February, allowing Sheetz to sue.

“This app was a catalyst for the break in the overlay,” Grumbles said shortly after the settlement was reached.

Also at the time, Aaron Underhill, a solicitor for the developers, said: “We have said from the outset that we believe our customers have rights regarding the use of the property and that we have proven that the issues of circulation had been resolved and that the project had carried out all relevant requirements.

The full text of Section 20 is approximately 16,000 words and describes procedures and requirements in detail.

Among its goals, it states that the overlay neighborhood “allows for a thorough examination of design features to ensure that projects are properly integrated into the environment and are compatible with adjacent development”.

On July 5, Grumbles said the overlay revisions were an effort to refine the township’s goals and effectiveness.

“You go into something with the best of intentions and you don’t get the desired outcome. That’s okay as long as you’re willing to keep working to achieve the set goals,” he said. “In our case, our goals should revolve around our residents, our constituents. They made it clear what they were looking for, and we tried to do that.”

During the months of work behind the district reviews, input from various township stakeholders and officials was considered, he said.

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