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JEDD talks for Geauga Lake land stalemated

by BOB GAETJENS | REPORTER Published: February 1, 2017 1:00 AM
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AURORA -- Negotiations aimed at developing a joint economic development district at the former Geauga Lake and Sea World properties appear to have broken down, with Aurora and Bainbridge officials each accusing the other of failing to negotiate in good faith.

Bainbridge officials have set a meeting for tonight (Feb. 1) at 7 in Bainbridge Township Hall to explain to residents where negotiations stand and hear what they have to say about the idea, according to Trustee Jeff Markley, who initially made comments to the media about the impasse between trustees, Aurora Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin and others representing the city and township in JEDD negotiations.

"We were surprised by Aurora's viewpoint, and that was the [Aurora] mayor and the law director," said Markley. "Aurora did not expect to share revenue on the Aurora side of the Cedar Fair property."

Womer Benjamin wrote in a Jan. 27 letter to the Bainbridge trustees that comments made in the media were "inappropriate, inaccurate and inflammatory, and certainly lacked evidence of any good faith on your part to reach a reasonable agreement with Aurora."

At the heart of the disagreement is how to allocate income tax revenue and pay for maintenance of sanitary sewer and water service on the Bainbridge side.

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"For the property to be developed, such service would need to be procured by the township," states Womer Benjamin in the letter. "One of the typical tradeoffs with such provision of utilities is the sharing of income taxes generated by the properties receiving the utilities, since these utilities are not provided without recompense."

According to Markley, one proposal was for Aurora to keep income tax revenue generated on its side of the property and collect 60 percent of Bainbridge's income tax revenue, which he did not find acceptable.

Markley said he would prefer an agreement in which the costs of maintenance are deducted from the gross revenue of any development, which would include a proposed Meijer store, and the remainder is split between the communities.

"At the end of the day, we're not going to accept something that doesn't benefit the district, the property owner, Meijer or us," he said.

 

Email: bgaetjens@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext.4188

Twitter: @bobgaetjens_rpc


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