Olentangy school board OKs Berkshire TIF

By Gary Budzak - [email protected]

The Olentangy Local School District last week approved an agreement that paves the way for further residential development in Berkshire Township.

“We’re developing 240 acres just north of (routes) 36/37 and (Interstate) 71,” said developer Joe Ciminello, as he unrolled a map during the board of education meeting on June 22. “This is the back corner of Bob Evans, and a few hotels. It stretches up north along 3Bs and K Road, and the development consists of 38 acres of multi-family (apartments), and the balance of it is 141 empty-nester condos (40 in Berlin Township), and 250 single-family homes. There will be 120 acres of open space.”

The property has been agricultural in nature, and is in the Olentangy district.

Ciminello said the reason he was before the board was because the township and the county want Fourwinds Drive, which currently runs from Waffle House to the White Castle and the Cracker Barrel, to replace 3Bs and K both north and south. He said 3Bs and K doesn’t line up at 36/37, creating a potentially dangerous intersection. The long-anticipated Fourwinds expansion constitutes a public infrastructure improvement.

In order to fund the Fourwinds project, Ciminello said tax-increment financing is needed. However, he said he wanted to make the district whole.

“We believe as developers a strong school district adds to property values, and vice versa.”

Ciminello estimated a nine-year build-out on the entire development.

After meeting with Superintendent Mark Raiff and Treasurer Brian Kern, Ciminello said he would put the properties in the same new community authority as the Tanger Outlets mall, which is also in the township. To offset the TIF, four mills from the NCA property taxes will go to the district.

“We give out $3.4 million to the TIF, and we get $4.8 million back through the NCA,” board member Kevin O’Brien said.

The board later unanimously approved the TIF resolution.

Also at the meeting, which lasted more than two hours, the district approved:

• A five-year license for Newsela Pro ( a service providing news articles at various reading levels), costing $226,455.

• House Bill 264, which allows the district to apply to participate in the school energy conservation financing program.

• A data dashboard/assessment system from Performance Matters costing $127,00.

Before the meeting, there was an event held at Shanahan Middle School to recognize students for academic and extracurricular achievement.

“I appreciate you taking the time to honor our students and staff,” Raiff said to the board.

The board next meets on July 7.

By Gary Budzak

[email protected]

Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.

Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.