The City of Powell has requested a public meeting with the Liberty Township Board of Trustees to discuss possible breaches of the Cooperative Economic Development Agreement (CEDA) and the unclear future of the shared emergency medical services (EMS).
Powell’s legal counsel sent a formal letter to the township on Thursday, which stipulates the meeting is to be scheduled on or before March 24 pursuant to Article 8, Section 13 of the CEDA.
The mutually beneficial agreement was adopted by the jurisdictions in 2002 to foster strategic growth and economic development.
In the letter to Liberty Township, the City of Powell highlights several areas of concern in regard to the CEDA. Those concerns are highlighted below.
The contracting out of the township’s EMS
The CEDA states it is the responsibility of the township to provide fire and EMS services to Powell.
“Clearly, Liberty Township continuing to provide fire and EMS services was a material inducement to the City to enter into the CEDA,” states a letter of cease and desist sent to the township from Powell in December.
In a press release Friday, Powell City Manager Steve Lutz states the foremost responsibility of the city is serving the interest of the residents.
“Recent discussions that significantly impact our community has led the City Council to request a Committee of the Whole meeting,” he states. “We hope this public meeting will provide more transparency and certainty for our residents. It is important that our City Council hold this meeting with the (Liberty Township) Board of Trustees. We want to preserve and protect why so many people live here – our strong sense of community, exceptional safety services and top-rated schools. We want to make our residents proud to call Powell home.”
During its Feb. 19 meeting, in a 2-1 vote, the Liberty Township Board of Trustees approved a resolution proposing a 10-year contract in which Delaware County would provide $1 million annually to help fund the township’s locally controlled EMS.
Trustees Melanie Leneghan and Michael Gemperline voted yes on the matter, while Trustee Shyra Eichhorn vote no.
Leneghan said the proposal was not a demand, but a proposal to enter into a contract with the county.
However, with the passage of the resolution, Leneghan moved to table a second resolution that would seek to immediately “replace the township’s fire department provided EMS with Delaware County EMS.”
According to Powell Public Information Officer Megan Canavan, city residents currently pay approximately $2.85 million in annual property taxes for fire and EMS services.
Lack of response to the notice of potential violation of CEDA
According to the city’s press release, it sent notice of a potential breach of the CEDA on Dec. 7, 2018, and a follow-up letter on Jan. 18.
“So far, we have not received anything back from the township,” Canavan said Friday.
Interference with annexation and development discussions in potential violation of CEDA
The letter addresses the development of a “Home Road Planned Overlay District (POD)” supposedly not consistent with the township’s comprehensive plan.
“Liberty Township proposes to adopt a POD allowing densities far in excess of the adopted Township Comprehensive Land Use Plan, as the POD will permit the development of an estimated 1,300 units, rather than the approximately 500 single-family units permitted by the Comprehensive Plan in this area,” the letter states.
Lack of response to public records requests
The city’s press release states it sent public records requests on Jan. 18 and Feb. 21 to Liberty Township to gain more information on the EMS discussions.
“The only thing we have received was a letter of receipt with their legal counsel’s contact information,” Canavan said.
Nico Franano, Save Our Service organizer, said the grassroots group has also had trouble in obtaining public records from the township, but as of late, the group has started to receive some of the requested records.
“They are beginning to fulfill our bigger request,” he said Friday. “We’ve received 1,100 pages.”
Franano said the group was glad to hear about Powell’s request for a meeting with the township.
“We appreciate the City of Powell sitting down at the table to further talks about the important issues of our community,” he said.
All three Liberty Township trustees declined to comment on the letter.
The Liberty Township Board of Trustees will hold its next regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, March 4, in the township hall located at 7761 Liberty Road, Powell.
Canavan said once a meeting is established between the township trustees and Powell City Council, the details will be posted to www.cityofpowell.us and on the City’s Local Government Facebook Page.