By Scott Halasz
SUGARCREEK TWP. — The decade-long saga between the City of Centerville and Sugarcreek Township came to an end Friday when township trustees approved court settlements and a fire/EMS agreement with the city.
The two sides had been at odds over how much Centerville — which does not have its own fire department — would be willing to pay for Sugarcreek Township to provide fire and EMS to city-annexed properties in the township at and near the Cornerstone development along I-675 and Feedwire Road. Centerville said the two negotiated a deal, but the township walked away from an agreement reached in 2014. The township twice tried to create a new fire district, which would have excluded the Centerville properties and portions of I-675 and adjoining public roads. The trustees rescinded its first attempt but had it on the May ballot until the Ohio Supreme Court ordered it removed because proper procedure was not followed. They recently took the steps to place it on the November ballot.
The city and township also went through court-ordered mediation and were unable to come up with an agreement.
“It’s been almost 11 years that we’ve been dealing with this,” Trustees chairperson Michael Pittman said. “We’re almost over that.”
Under terms of the agreement, the city will pay the township 54 percent of tax money collected from commercial development at Cornerstone, approximately $4.4 million over 30 years. The township agreed to take no action reducing or eliminating fire/EMS services to any parcels located in both the city and township and that it will rescind all resolutions creating a new fire district.
Centerville and Cornerstone’s developer, Oberer companies, also agreed to release all legal claims against the township.
In addition, Centerville will pay the township $160,000 for expenses incurred in the construction of Clyo Road and agreed to not annex or accept an annexation of 13 acres of Dille Laboratories-owned land along I-675 and the property currently known as Sweet Arrow Park. The non-annexation was important to the township, because cities are able to annex any unincorporated township property it adjoins, regardless of the county.
“I’m happy to see this day,” Trustee Nadine Daugherty said. “It’s been a long journey.”
In a related action, the township entered into a memo of understanding with Greene County, accepting a grant of more than $542,000, which will be paid to Centerville to resolve a separate court case. Centerville filed the lawsuit saying the township incorrectly received $542,130 from its tax increment financing district.
The township asked for the financial help during a work session with county commissioners last month. They approved the grant at Thursday’s meeting.
“I’ve got to give credit to the three Greene County commissioners and the (county) administrator,” George Oberer Jr., said. “They took leadership of this issue because I think they understood that it was affecting a lot of people. A lot of businesses, a lot of people. There was a lot of uncertainty about what was going to happen with regard to the fire and EMS issues. It was likely going to affect economic development.”
Cornerstone houses the area’s first Costco, along with a Cabela’s, an under-construction Kroger and several restaurants. At least one restaurant — Milano’s — had reportedly pulled out of an agreement to build at Cornerstone over fear of the lack of fire and EMS.
Centerville City Council has already authorized City Manager Greg Horn to sign the agreements, Horn said.