Build water and sewer lines, and the businesses will come.
So says property owners and realtors associated with the highly-desirable land at the intersection of State Route 161 on the U.S. Route 42 bypass in Plain City.
Those stakeholders addressed village council Monday evening, asking council members to consider investing in extending the village’s water and sewer lines north to the land.
Investment is the key word for the small, but growing, village of about 5,000. Extending the lines would cost about $2.5 million, according to village administrator Kevin Vaughn.
His office gets at least two calls per week from someone expressing interest in the area, but once they hear there are no lines, interest quickly dwindles, he said.
The properties are owned by Wayne Ballantyne and Dave Woodard. The 57-acre Ballantyne property is located just north of State Route 161 on the U.S. Route 42 bypass. The 51-acre Woodard property is in the same area at the corner of the bypass and North Chillicothe Street.
Realtor Ron Winn said it’s been difficult to sell the property as-is.
“As soon as I tell them we don’t have water or sewer available and there’s no timetable to get them, they’re not interested,” he said. “We’ve lost companies.”
He said Woodard’s property was annexed into the village “with the understanding” the lines would be added.
Bruce Massa, a broker representing Woodard’s property, echoed Winn. Non-residential, private development will “make your lives easier,” he said, because it’s easier for police departments to patrol and schools to absorb.
“Subdivisions are a greater strain,” he added.
Developed commercial lots of one to two acres tend to sell for $75,000 to $100,000, he said. Asking a company to add its own water and sewer lines for another $25,000 makes it “unfeasible,” he said. So, they’ll take up deals in Marysville or Dublin.
“You’ll do much better, much quicker if you build the water and sewer,” he said. “You’ll be missing a golden opportunity. Developers are looking at Plain City.”
Council members said there are unanswered questions on the matter. Member Leslie Perkins questioned if the village’s infrastructure had the capacity to handle the increase. Vaughn said the village hasn’t been told by the EPA to stop.
And the big question: how to pay for it?
Solicitor Paul-Michael La Fayette said he has been looking into different funding options, including the creation of a tax increment finance district (TIF).
A TIF district is a designated area that shows a need for reinvestment, urban renewal or historic preservation. Over time and as development occurs, funds produced by an increase in property values can be used to invest back in the district. That increase is what funds improvements and, in turn, encourages private investment, creates jobs and spurs the local economy.
Once a TIF district is established, a portion of property taxes generated within the district can be used to improve infrastructure or to encourage developers and businesses to invest in the area. Typically, the municipality will provide water and sewage infrastructure for the development.
Ballantyne, who has owned his property since the late 1990s, told council it’s “time to do something.”
“Let’s strike the iron while it’s hot,” he said.
Reach Andrea Chaffin at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619, and on Twitter @AndeeWrites.