Merry Christmas.

Those are the words spoken Monday by Berkshire Board of Education member John Manfredi to express his approval of two agreements unanimously OK’d by Burton Village Council and the village’s Board of Public Affairs that opened the door to a new Berkshire school and a senior citizen housing community.

The agreements hold the promise of ending months of negotiations between Burton Village and Burton Township and provide a blueprint for sharing tax receipts on the two properties, now outside the village.

Burton Trustee Kenneth Burnett, who attended the meeting, said Township Trustees were prepared to vote on the agreements at their Dec. 16 meeting. He said he did not anticipate any problems with their approval.

On Tuesday, Geauga County Commissioners were preparing to hold a public hearing on the annexation of the senior housing property, known as Hillside Village, in what has been referred to as a “forced annexation,” meaning that there was opposition from a Burton trustee.

Commissioners, however, agreed to continue the public hearing until Jan. 14 given the latest developments. Attorney James Gillette, representing Hillside developers, said the annexation will be withdrawn if all parties have finalized the agreements and agree to the cooperative annexation.

The initial agreement approved by the two village bodies consists of a memorandum of understanding between the village, Berkshire Schools, Kent State University and the township and sets the stage for the establishment of a joint economic development district, known as a JEDD.

The memorandum provides the water and sewer services needed by Berkshire schools to construct its new school and lays out the fees associated with receiving those utilities.

“The total water and sewer tap-in fees shall be determined based on average actual daily usage of water and sanitary sewer service at the school property measured over the two-year period commencing on the first day of the academic year following the date the school district takes occupancy of the school facility,” the memorandum states. “The water tap-in fee shall be calculated by multiplying the average gallons per day used by $4.38 plus $2350.32. The sanitary sewer tap-in shall be calculated by multiplying the average gallons per day used by $33.22 plus $785.54.”

The memorandum states the school district will pay $100,000 initially. Future payments toward the tap-in fees “shall be contingent upon the school district realizing an incremental increase in the real property tax revenues received by the school district which are attributable to certain property presently owned by Deborah D. Demko, Trustee, and Paul D. Demko Jr., Trustee, located at 13483 Kinsman Road (the Hillside property).”

The district is expected to make annual installments toward the remainder of the tap-in fees.

The memorandum calls for the district to also provide for a future loop water line through the county property that hosts the county fair.

The formation of a JEDD will provide for a split of the village’s income taxes on the school property with the village receiving 70 percent and the township 30 percent. Employees of Kent State University, however, will be excluded from paying the income taxes, according to the agreement. The water and sewer services are conditioned on the university and school accepting the JEDD.

The memorandum also sets out the terms for future annexations of township property into the village. “The village and township agree that there shall be no annexations of land located in the township without the consent of the township for a period of five years following the execution of the JEDD agreement,” it states. “After the expiration of said five-year period, the village and township agree that for a period of 10 years thereafter, the village will engage in good faith negotiations with the township to explore alternative options prior to consenting to any annexations of land located within the township.”

Once plans are approved by the village engineer, the school district can begin connecting to village utilities.

The annexation agreement allows for three parcels, totaling 40.47 acres, to be annexed into the village and establishes a revenue-sharing plan between the township and village. It also notes that in the event that the Hillside Village project does not proceed, the property will still be annexed into the village.

The village will be responsible for rezoning the Hillside property to allow for 120 to 160 housing units of 1,100 to 2,300 square feet each on 25 acres in a first phase. The village may use its existing multiple family zoning or create a new high-density district.

“In lieu of real estate taxes which the Demkos would pay to Geauga County and be distributed to the township if the land remained in the township, the village agrees that it shall pay an amount equal to 40 percent of all real estate taxes which accrue commencing on the effective date of the annexation of the land for 25 years; and an amount equal to 30 percent of all real estate taxes which accrue on the 26th anniversary of the effective date of the annexation of the land, and thereafter,” the agreement states. However, payments will halt if the JEDD is terminated.

The same terms for future annexations were also included as in the memorandum.

The agreement also calls for the Demkos to pay all costs associated with the construction and maintenance of water and sewer lines serving the development.

It also established water and sewer tap-in fees for the project with the sanitary sewer tap-in at $785.54 plus $11.95 per gallon per day of estimated sewage flow and $2,350.32 plus $4.38 per gallon based on average daily use.

The agreement notes that Hillside Village will be developed in three phases with a start no later than the fall of 2020.

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