Fairfield has approved a joint economic development district agreement with Fairfield Twp. that is expected to help a speculative development on Seward Road projected to bring hundreds of new jobs to the region.
The Fairfield Twp. Board of Trustees had the JEDD contract and a development agreement on its agenda Tuesday, but a vote was held after the Journal-News deadline.
Fairfield City Council’s vote was unanimous to accept the terms of the JEDD ― and previously voted to accept the development agreement ― but questions were raised by a non-annexation provision.
Councilman Matt Davidson said he wanted to know more specifics about not annexing the township with a few exceptions. The city will be allowed to actively pursue annexation, if the property owners decide, two pieces of land in the southwestern part of the city along the Great Miami River.
One is a triangular-shaped property known as the Groh Farm that’s across from FurField Dog Park.
“It’s completely surrounded by the city of Fairfield when we annexed (land) for the dog park,” said Fairfield Economic Development Manager Nathaniel Kaelin. “We made it an island within the city.”
There are also more than 300 acres on the east side of the Great Miami River, and it could be petitioned by the owner to be annexed into the city. That property is currently a gravel mining operation.
Fairfield Development Services Director Greg Kathman said they exempted that land from the agreement for possible future annexation “because we have some ideas for future recreation needs.” He did not expound on those future recreational needs.
A third parcel is a “sliver” of land on Seward Road that’s expected to be annexed in order to straighten out the road and keep it within the city’s jurisdiction. Seward Road adjacent to the project is presently within Fairfield’s jurisdiction.
Kaelin said the city would agree not to pursue annexation of other township property next to Fairfield’s borders.
“It’s a standard component (of a JEDD agreement),” he said. Fairfield has this provision in its JEDD with West Chester Twp. and Fairfield Twp. has this provision in its agreements with the city of Hamilton.
The development is expected to create 425 jobs after the first two of three planned buildings are constructed and leased. The first of the buildings is a 312,000-square-foot structure that’s expected to be finished by the first quarter of 2023. The second building would be 528,000 square feet and finished later in 2023.
Depending on the success of the first two buildings, a third building, also 528,000 square feet, would be constructed, according to Tom Wilson, director of Real Estate Development for Al Neyer.
The buildings are part of a speculative industrial park for e-commerce, general distribution, and manufacturing companies. Duke Realty started the project several years ago but pulled out before signing any agreements with the city and township. Duke Realty will maintain ownership of an existing 500,000-plus-square-foot building at 7950 Seward Road.
Wilson previously told the Journal-News that taking over projects “is one of the strengths of Al Neyer.”
Al Neyer has petitioned for 83 of the 146 acres to be included in the JEDD, but the company will eventually incorporate the entire site.
The city and township had an initial attempt at a JEDD agreement in 2010, but that was never signed. However, a lot of the anti-annexation in the contract approved by the city on Monday was in a separate annexation agreement that was signed.
Kathman said there was some debate on whether that annexation agreement with valid without the JEDD, but this clears that agreement up. The city and township negotiated the Fairfield Logistics Center JEDD agreement for 18 months, and Kathman said “this was a major part of the negotiations, settling on these boundaries .... It was a much-discussed territory and it really cleans up a situation that already exists in some extent.”
If approved by the township trustees, a three-member JEDD board will be created with at least one city and one township representative. A 1.5% income tax will be charged within the JEDD, and Fairfield will take 5% off the top for administrative services. The net proceeds will be split, 75% going to the township and the remaining 25% going to the city.
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