Township officials say change in form of government key to securing large projects

Township administrator Barry Tiffany said the current form of government - statutory township - makes it harder for the township to borrow enough money for public infrastructure improvement projects many developers find attractive.

“Those limitations really put a bite on us,” he said. “That’s one reason cities are very successful in enticing developers to annex.”

The township will ask voters to approve limited home rule on the November ballot.

The issue as well as possible road levy options will be discussed as part of today’s 7 p.m. township trustees meeting at 2090 Ferry Road. Voters rejected the home-rule issue in 2009. Tiffany said there was not enough voter education on the issue then. Some community members who opposed the issue are now in favor of it, he said. Additional informational meetings are planned.

Last month, Cornerstone Developers Ltd. filed petitions in a Greene County court to detach the former Dille properties on 225 acres at Wilmington Pike and Feedwire Road from Centerville.

Project developer George Oberer Jr. cited Centerville’s desire to shift costs of an “unreasonable amount of roadway improvements” to Cornerstone.

Friday, Oberer said he wasn’t sure how the limited home-rule issue would impact Sugarcreek’s operation or abilities.

“That was not going to affect anything we do,” Oberer, chief executive of the Oberer Cos. and Cornerstone Developers, said of the limited home-rule attempt. Dille family members are also partners in Cornerstone.

Oberer said the project is moving forward and has commitments from seven of 12 businesses expected to be a part of the project’s first phase.

He said he could not divulge the names of the businesses, saying they are a combination of small and large local and national retailers.

The property has been the prize in a six year battle between Centerville and Sugarcreek.

It was annexed by Centerville in 2006 and has since been part of both Sugarcreek Twp. and Centerville.

The Ohio Supreme Court in April heard arguments about Sugarcreek Twp.’s opposition to Centerville’s plan to apply tax incremental financing (TIF) on the property. Sugarcreek filed to dismiss its appeal in the case July 30, according to the court’s docket. Centerville filed a motion opposing the township’s motion Aug. 8

Tiffany said the property has tremendous potential.

“Look at that property and where it is positioned in the Dayton region. It is sitting on a sweet spot,” he said. “That’s why Centerville fought so hard to keep it and we fought so hard to get it back.”

Township Trustee Mike Pittman said the project has the potential to generate $50 million in tax revenues for the township over a 30 year period.

Limited home rule will allow the township flexibility in securing less expensive financing and flexibility in establishing economic development tools like TIFs and joint economic development districts for things like road work, he said.

“I don’t think limited home rule would have stopped Centerville (from attempting to annex the property), but it could have potentially helped us,” Pittman said. “If we can not provide them the financing they need, they may not stay in the township.”

Pittman said there is some misinformation about what the status would allow.

“It doesn’t affect income tax. We can’t do anything the Ohio Revised codes doesn’t allow the township to do,” he said.

“The citizen has to vote to give the township the ability to purchase certain things.”

Tiffany said the biggest change would be that resolutions would be required to be read twice instead of once, local police ordinances could be established and the trustees would have .5 percent more borrowing potential - $18.86 million from $16.9 million. The township could borrow up to $33 million with voter approval.

Tiffany said borrowing rates are also more favorable for limited home-rule townships than statutory townships.

“Limited home-rule rates are 3 to 4 percent,” he said. “For non-limited home we’ve seen rates as high as 8 percent in the last couple of years.”

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