June 29, 2016

Mostly cloudy

City, township talking economic team-up

Brunswick and Brunswick Hills Township leaders say they are interested in talking about working together on economic development, including possibly forming a joint economic development district.

A joint economic development district, or JEDD, would allow the township to more easily access city water for development and to share income tax revenues from business development in the district.

City and township officials have discussed forming a JEDD in the past without success.

In spring 2011, talks about developing a JEDD soured. At the time, some City Council members were hesitant to allow businesses on township property to tap into city water lines. Township trustees also were slow to respond to the city’s request to continue talks, so the JEDD idea was dropped before it could get off the ground.

In November 2011, however, four of the seven Brunswick Council members were voted out of office, and a new Council took shape in 2012.

“I think this Council is a lot easier to work with and I think they’re really interested in working with us,” township Trustee Mike Esbers said.

Esber said he met with Council members Monday during an Economic Development Committee meeting and they assured him they’re ready to talk.

Esber said the ball got rolling about three months ago after he and Councilman Brian Ousley, at large, and City Manager Jim Lukas sat down to discuss Foundation Software’s move from Pearl Road in Brunswick Hills to Strongsville.

“We don’t want any more companies to leave the Brunswick area,” Esber said.

At Monday’s meeting, Councilman Ron Falconi, at large, and Anthony Capretta, 4th Ward, told Esber they think it’s time the city renew talks about creating a JEDD.

“I think a key part of any development on Pearl Road has to have the cooperation of the township trustees,” said Falconi, who is running unopposed for Brunswick mayor in November.

Esber said trustees would be willing to work on creating a JEDD as long as the township doesn’t lose any property.

On Pearl Road, north of Center Road, the property on the west side of the street shifts between township and city property more than 10 times.

Brunswick Economic Development Director Tim Smith said a JEDD would make the Pearl Road corridor easier to market.

“When I met with a developer, I could say we have a JEDD with the township so wherever you want to go on Pearl Road, we can work with you,” he said.

“We are one community, we share the same school, the police and fire work together, so the economic development departments should be working together,” Smith said.

Esber said he thinks Brunswick and the township can look to the recent success of the JEDD between the city of Medina and Montville Township.

That JEDD, established in 2009, allows Montville Township businesses along portions of state routes 3 and 18 within the district to have their employees pay Medina’s 1.25 percent income tax. Under Ohio law, townships cannot collect an income tax.

Twenty percent of the tax money is earmarked for infrastructure improvements, such as landscaping and sidewalks. The rest of the money is split between the township and the city.

In January, Medina and Montville agreed to expand the JEDD.

“It’s working in Montville,” Esber said. “I just went to a meeting with them, and the mayor of Brunswick was there, and they’re working together to earmark tax money to fix certain problem areas.”

Esber said a Brunswick Hills/Brunswick JEDD could use money to create sidewalks and add lighting on some northern sections of Pearl Road to make the area more appealing to developers and residents.

He said he also hopes the talks could help create a zoning code that makes sense for the entire Pearl Road corridor, rather than jumping between city and township zoning restrictions.

“We’re next-door neighbors, so we need to work together,” Esber said.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.