Avon Council reviews financing agreement with Jacobs Group for interchange

AVON
By Rebecca Turman
It was hard enough to find a parking lot at Avon City Hall Monday night let alone a seat in Council Chambers as residents packed the City Council work session, expecting council members to publicly address the special assessments being
considered to help finance the I-90 interchange at Nagel Road.
However, council members did not go into detail on the plans for special assessments that could impact 105 property owners near the interchange. Instead, they reviewed an ordinance to authorize a financing agreement with JG (Jacobs Group)
Avon LLC for the construction of the interchange.
Gasior addressed the residents in the audience during the meeting.
“We really would like to talk about that, but we’re probably not going to talk about that for a couple of weeks,” he said of the assessments.
Avon Mayor Jim Smith said the city would keep those who are interested in the discussion notified of upcoming meetings when the special assessments would be addressed.
“It should be the only item on the agenda,” Smith noted. “It’s going to be a long meeting.”
“This is part of the process toward construction of the interchange at Nagel Road,” Avon Law Director John Gasior said at the meeting. “They (Jacobs Group) are a onethird partner in this process.”
The agreement council has planned to vote on via emergency, according to a draft ordinance, suspending the three-reading rule, “spells out what the obligations are,” Gasior added.
During the meeting, Gasior outlined the main points of the agreement.
“The developer will pay one-third of the cost of the ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation) improvements,” he said, adding Jacobs Group can pay in cash or take an assessment. “The other two-thirds of the cost are going to be the city’s cost.”
Gasior noted the agreement suggests how the city may pay its portion of the cost.
“Council hasn’t acted specifically on assessments,” he said. (The city is) certainly counting on TIF (tax increment financing) revenue and income tax revenue.
“That’s the most important part of the agreement. That’s the heart and soul of it.”
At the meeting, Gasior said part of the draft agreement states that one-third of the cost of the interchange “shall be paid by special assessments levied by the city on the benefited property.” That part of the agreement will be changed, since special assessments have not been voted on by council.
Councilman Kevin Ward had a concern with section 1 (c) (ii) of the agreement.
“Your concern is Jacobs could conceivably be loaning money to the city,” Gasior said, adding the intent is to “cover the city during a period of time.”
While the interchange should be up and running by 2014, “Development may not really start until 2016,” Gasior said, which may affect money collected through TIFs.
“We felt that Jacobs should be responsible for meeting that shortfall for a period of time.”
That would be done through “service payments,” as the draft agreement states.
“At the end of the day, they are loaning us money,” Ward said.
Gasior said other adjustments need to be made to the draft agreement, including the assignment issue. He said paragraph 8 would need to be redrafted “to protect us in the event there is an assignment.”
Currently, the paragraph states the developer’s obligation to make service payments and minimum service payments
“shall be binding on any future owner of all or any portion of the Primary Development Site.”
If Jacobs Group opts for the assessment process, Gasior said pieces of property could be sold off.
“We want to protect the city,” Gasior said. “That will be one of the most significant changes – more of a clarification. I think we are very, very close.”
Gasior reiterated that the agreement with Jacobs Group “has nothing to do with the assessments” that could affect 105 property owners who may benefit from the interchange.
Later in the meeting, Gasior said the city is not obligated in its agreement with Jacobs Group to assess the property owners.
“(It’s an) agreement between us and Jacobs for that one-third cost of the project that they have agreed to pay from day one,” he said.
During audience comments, residents were given the opportunity to share their thoughts.
Ted Rink said he wouldn’t be directly affected by the possible special assessments, however, he asked if city officials asked; state Sen. Gayle Manning or state Rep. Matt Lundy for help in funding the interchange.
“WE’VE looked at every possible avenue,” Smith said. “We will continuously try.”
Jon Pinney, an Avon resident and lawyer said he’s had the opportunity to meet with a number of the property owners affected.
“They really are concerned about how they are going to pay for the assessments,” he said, adding he recognizes some will benefit from the interchange, but some may not.
“It’s causing people to lose sleep. It really is a stressful experience. They really are concerned about how to deal with this.”
“I haven’t heard about a tax on everybody who lives here,” said David Mast, an Avon resident who lives on Nagel Road, but is not affected by the possible special assessments.
“(I see) a group of people who are going to get hammered for the benefit of all of us. This does not sit well with me.”

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