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Granger OKs Community Reinvestment Area

8/22/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Scott Kriska

GRANGER — After much discussion, the Granger Board of Trustees approved a proposal to create a Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) in the township.

During a special meeting Aug. 19, Trustees John Ginley and Richard Pace voted in favor of the CRA, while Trustee Teri Berry abstained. Berry said she had concerns on how the district for the CRA was determined, and after seeking legal counsel and because her parents own land affected by the district, she recused herself from voting.

According to Bethany Dentler, executive director of the Medina County Economic Development Corp., a company is in the process of making a decision to locate in either Summit County or at a Granger site. She said the company, which she did not name, plans to construct a $5 million to $10 million corporate headquarters that could result in increased tax collection for both Granger and the Highland Local School District.

Dentler said a CRA would serve as an incentive for businesses to locate in the area with reductions in their real estate taxes. She said creating a CRA allows the county to grant up to a 50 percent reduction in taxes for up to 15 years.

According to township officials, the CRA district’s boundaries include the area running along the north side of state Route 18 (Medina Road) from Beach Road east to Coddingville and Dunsha roads, to Granger Road then to Ridge Road back to state Route 18.

Dentler said the CRA boundaries were chosen with consideration of the residential community. She added 72 percent of the homes within that area are 34 years old or older, and these homes could take advantage of the renovation incentives offered to the CRA.

Dentler said before the vote that once the trustees and the Medina County Board of Commissioners approve the CRA, an application will be sent to the state. She said any commercial abatement would then be set up and negotiated individually. Any building constructed in the CRA must comply with local zoning regulations, she said. As a measure of oversight, she said a Housing Council would be formed to hold an annual review where the corporation receiving the abatement must show compliance with the original agreement in order to continue the abatement.

Highland Local Schools Board of Education Vice President Robert Kelly, who said he was speaking as a Granger resident and not a board member, spoke about the benefit to residents in both lower taxes for schools and lower levies. He said the CRA was a chance to broaden the tax base and spread tax dollars over more than just residential properties.

Before the vote, several residents voiced their concerns about the CRA. Area resident Jim Bilek addressed the meeting with a series of facts he researched about incentives. After relating some statistics, he urged the trustees to review this type of information.

“I have heard what we’re going to get, but I haven’t heard yet what we’re giving up,” he said.

Bambeck Road resident Suzette Burtoft said since the state Route 18 corridor is desirable, there should not be a need for tax abatements. She questioned why the name of the interested company is not released and said the issues are vague. As a school employee and resident, she expressed her concern the CRA would hurt how residents view the need for future levies.

Dentler explained the reason no draft for a tax abatement from the company can be revealed is because the CRA has not yet been established, so the company cannot apply for or draft anything yet.

Before the vote, Pace said the trustees need to look at what is best for the residents in making their decision and to consider the consequences of not creating the CRA. He said the trustees should ask themselves when making their decision if residents benefit by broadening the tax base and if the CRA would put the township on an equal basis with other townships offering agreements.

In other business at the meeting, a discussion about noise problems took place. Medina County Assistant Prosecutor Bill Thorne discussed the prosecutor’s role in enforcing resolutions. He said the township can adopt a general noise regulation and reasonable personal standards or decibel standards can be used.

The question of abandoned vehicles also was raised. Thorne said the township can prosecute offenders through the Medina County Prosecutor’s Office.

The next Granger trustees’ meeting is set for Aug. 26 at 4 p.m. at the Granger Township Administration Building, 3717 Ridge Road.

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