AMHERST TWP. — Amherst and Amherst Township have reached an agreement on a joint economic development district for the Golden Acres property on the southeast corner of state Route 58 and North Ridge Road.
Amherst Township trustees and Amherst City Council unanimously voted in favor of entering the agreement.
With the agreement, the nearly 30 acres of property will remain in the township, but the city will provide some of its infrastructure, such as its sewers.
“We will still maintain all the support for it — fire protection, police (through the county Sheriff’s Office) and ambulance service,” Amherst Township Trustee Dennis Abraham said. “In this case, since it’s going to be sold to a private individual and developed privately, we as a township will have the enjoyment of any real estate taxes available, plus whatever employees are there, we will be able to join forces and get half of the income tax base, which we could never have gotten on our own.”
By state law, townships are not allowed to collect income tax, but under the Ohio Revised Code, they are allowed to enter a JEDD agreement with a city and share income tax.
“It’s a great partnership. You don’t see cities and townships working together very often,” Amherst Mayor Mark Costilow said. “They’re (the township) able to market the property better because we’re able to provide some infrastructure and sewage. They’re able to collect a little bit of income tax, and then for our trouble, we’re able to collect a little income tax.”
A JEDD agreement is only possible when the city and township come to an agreement with the cooperation of the owners of the land. In this case, the property in question is owned by the county commissioners, which made things easier.
“It was a ripe time for us to look at the relationships and look at the process (of creating a JEDD),” Lorain County Administrator Jim Cordes said. “It helps the township and the city work collaboratively together. The JEDD doesn’t really do anything for the county.”
The property was the former county-run Golden Acres Nursing Home, which ceased operation in November 2015. Cordes said the commissioners are looking to sell the property, which is zoned commercial.
“We’ve had one or two folks come forward with a potential redevelopment plan, but it really hasn’t seen the light of day,” he said. “We’re optimistic that it will occur.”
This wasn’t the first time the city and township have discussed such an agreement, according to Abraham.
“It’s something I wanted to do probably 18 or 19 years ago,” he said. “We tried to do it. At that point in time, there was different leadership on both sides … and we weren’t quite able to get there. It kind of fell apart all at the last moment.
“This time, we have all the players aligned. It was kind of a unique situation since the county owned the land and they supported it.”
Cordes said he believes this could be the beginning of a series of such agreements between the city and township.
“I felt it was time for them to get this done,” Cordes said. “I believe there’s going to be additional opportunities going down the state Route 58 corridor. The JEDD can be expanded. This is a starting point.”
Costilow sees this as an opportunity for Amherst to bring more commercial business to the area.
“We do not (have a lot of commercial property left in Amherst),” he said. “I think we have barely over 300 total acres left to be developed that’s vacant land in the city of Amherst. I would guess that only about half of that is zoned commercial.”
He also believes the agreement will give the city some say in what business, or businesses, move onto the property.
While all zoning and building permits must go through the township’s commercial inspector, Abraham said there will be a JEDD board that will include city and township officials who will “work together as a team and will be able to direct who is going to be coming in.”
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