50-50 income tax deal in the works for commercial development at Golden Acres

By Jason Hawk - jhawk@aimmediamidwest.com

Officials are poised to sign a tax-sharing deal to handle commercial development of the former Golden Acres property on Rt. 58.

No tenant is in the wings just yet, but Amherst city council is eyeing a way to split income from any businesses that one day locate to the site.

The land is in Amherst Township and the city has no legal claim to govern or tax it. But now council and trustees have negotiated the creation of a Joint Economic Development District encompassing the county-owned former nursing home property.

If Amherst provides utilities, it will get a 50 percent cut of workers’ income taxes for 100 years, with options for two 50-year renewals.

“This is going to be good for both of us,” said mayor Mark Costilow in a public hearing Monday.

Amherst Township will still pay for roads, Amherst firefighters will still provide coverage, and the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office will still respond to calls there.

Residents won’t be affected at all. The land is zoned commercially and there are no homes in the JEDD area.

If the township were to allow a new subdivision or even single houses on the old Golden Acres land, residents wouldn’t be taxed on income under the agreement. They would still be taxed on property, just like any homeowner.

A provision of the JEDD does not allow Golden Acres to be annexed into the Amherst city limits, Costilow said.

The restriction affects just the county-owned property covered by the district. It would not prevent Amherst from annexing any other land, including that owned by the Amherst Schools on Dewey Road.

There are other parcels in the township that Costilow said he’s readily annex if approached by landowners. The township had asked for a pledge to never annex any property, but city law director Tony Pecora said the request was unacceptable because it would limit Amherst’s statutory rights.

He said the JEDD deal gives Amherst more leverage over development on the property.

Previously, the Golden Acres frontage was targeted for gas station construction, and Amherst had zero input on how construction would move forward, even though its neighbors were city residents and would be impacted by light, noise, and traffic.

City council president John Dietrich spoke in favor of the JEDD, saying it’s a strategically sound deal for Amherst.

“You’ve got to remember the township covers us on three sides. This kind of helps for future protection between the township and the city,” he said. “I think the mayor will agree, this is just the beginning, the tip of the iceberg. I think it behooves us to work along with the township, because like I say, they connect with us on three sides of our city.”

Monday’s discussion did not prompt a vote, which will be required of council to formally accept the JEDD agreement.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk