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HUBBARD Plans for plaza progress as state drops land price



Published: Wed, August 1, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Estimates of the sale price ranged up to $300,000.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

HUBBARD -- The state has dramatically reduced the sale price of a section of road median, bringing construction of the Flying J Travel Plaza project a step closer to reality.

Flying J wants to build an $8.5 million plaza on 25 acres on the west side of state Routes 7 and 62, north of Interstate 80 and just south of Hibler Road.

Because of a grass-covered median separating the four-lane highway, northbound traffic is blocked from a left turn into the proposed plaza.

Will sell median land: Mayor George Praznik and township trustee Fred Hanley said Tuesday the Ohio Department of Transportation has agreed to sell the median land for $16,300.

Estimates of the sale price to either Flying J or developers Charles and Edward Margala were between $100,000 and $300,000.

"That's tremendous," Praznik said. "Flying J is going to fly."

Flying J or the developers will pay to construct the crossover.

If ODOT's sale price hadn't been worked out, Flying J threatened to build the plaza in Pennsylvania.

Resolution: ODOT set the lower-than-expected price after trustees and Praznik contacted Gov. Bob Taft.

In a July 13 letter to Taft, Praznik complained that the problem over the land had been going on for months and he was unable to get any answers from anyone, including ODOT.

In the letter, the mayor noted Flying J means a potential 160 jobs, $300,000 annually in taxes that benefit the school district and $2 million a year to the state in gasoline tax revenue.

Praznik said he can't help but think the plea to the governor got results. "By God, things got done."

"It's just a win-win for everybody," Hanley added.

The trustee said the city and township have agreed to the development of a Joint Economic Development District for the project that will be in the township, about a mile from the city.

How this will work: Under terms of the agreement, the city will receive its 1-percent income tax from plaza workers, and the property tax will remain in the township.

The city will provide sewers, electricity and water to the plaza, which will generate revenue for the city.

At the same time, Hanley explained, the township has agreed not to object to any annexation efforts by the city.

In exchange, the township will not lose any tax revenue because of annexation, even if the city has to pay for any loss. This will allow the city to expand, the trustee added.

yovich@vindy.com




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