Burton Village Council began putting together a to-do list Monday as plans for a senior living center and the new Berkshire School move forward.
The two projects dominated discussions as Dan Demko, developer of a 120-unit senior living complex on 26 acres just west of the village, has initiated the annexation process with the county and school officials have now made requests to tie into the village’s water and sewer services.
Todd Hicks, village solicitor, told council the request for a water tap-in by the school, will involve discussions between Burton Township, the village, the property owner and the school.
The school property is within the township borders while Kent State University owns the land the school will be built on through a lease agreement with the school. Mr. Hicks said the county is also involved because the tap-in will be from a village-owned line that runs along Claridon Troy Road, a county road.
While Mayor Joseph Hernandez stated in a written report to council that he believes a Joint Economic Development District, known as a JEDD, should be formed with the township to share revenues from the new school, Council President Charles “Skip” Boehnlein said he does not “see the sense of a JEDD.”
Mr. Boehnlein said there is little vacant property within the proposed JEDD, and he could not see any other development occurring other than the school.
Councilwoman Bonnie Richards said if the village approved such a JEDD it would have little leverage to have the school pay the village’s 1 percent income tax.
Mr. Hicks said the village can use its authority to approve or deny use of the village’s water as leverage.
Mr. Hicks said he has been in contact with Burton Township’s attorney and, at this time, the township’s position on the school is unknown. He said he hopes to learn the township’s position by council’s next meeting Sept. 25.
Mr. Hicks said the village also needs to get something in writing from KSU officials regarding the water line tap-in request because they are the actual owners of the property involved.
Charles “Chip” Hess, village engineer, said the school has also applied through the county to access sewer services. He said the county will now need to approach the village to determine whether the village’s waste-water treatment plant has sufficient capacity to handle the school property.
Mr. Hess said village officials must also be aware of the impact future re-development of two existing school buildings within the village will have on the village’s sewer capacity.
Mr. Hess added that allowing the school to tap-in to the existing waterline along Claridon Troy Road may have an effect on plans for the village to eventually build a looped waterline to that area. He said if the school extends the existing line from KSU, the line is no longer under the village’s control.
Mr. Demko asked whether the school had plans other than getting water from the village.
Mr. Hess said they could drill a well, but the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency mandates that if water is available through an existing line, the school must tap into that line.
Mr. Hess also advised council to begin tabulating the costs the village is now incurring for legal and engineering services and charging those costs to the school.
Councilwoman Ruth Spanos said the village has already begun to incur expenses.
Village Fiscal Officer Jennell Dahlhausen said the village has already spent approximately $2,000 in engineering fees for school-related issues.
She said the school has offered to put down a deposit to cover the village’s costs. The school has asked the village how much that deposit should be and whether it will be refunded if the village denies its request for the water.
Mr. Hess said he would ask for a $5,000 deposit, although he believes the village’s costs could be greater. He said the deposit is generally not refunded even if a request is denied.
Mr. Boehnlein suggested a $10,000 deposit.
Mr. Hess said the deposit covers the costs of plan reviews and coordinating the project.
He added that the village should obtain a memorandum of understanding with the township that spells out who owns and maintains any utility lines extended to the new school.
Mr. Demko said the township will “aggressively” oppose the annexation of his property and there is a chance the Geauga County Commissioners that decide the issue could allow the township to retain all property taxes on his property.
If commissioners decided to side with the village and allow the village to collect property taxes, the township can contest the decision in court.
“We’re going to fight it if that’s what the township wants to do,” Mr. Demko said.