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HUBBARD Highway median is a roadblock to starting construction on plaza



Published: Mon, June 4, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



ODOT is having the grassy median appraised.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

HUBBARD -- City and Hubbard Township officials say they are fighting against time to nail down 130 to 160 new jobs.

Mayor George Praznik and township Trustee Fred Hanley say that unless access to the proposed Flying J Travel Plaza isn't worked out, the $8.5 million project will be built in Pennsylvania instead of here.

Praznik pointed out that Flying J wants to break ground in August on 25 acres on the west side of routes 7 and 62, north of Interstate 80 and just south of Hibler Road.

The difficulty is that northbound traffic on Route 7 can't turn left because a grass-covered median separates the four-lane highway.

The median is owned by the Ohio Department of Transportation, Hanley said, noting the state bought it when Route 7 was widened from two to four lanes in 1971.

ODOT is having the land appraised to determine how much it will charge the developers and owners of Flying J, Charles and Edward Margala.

The crossover, which will actually be a signaled intersection in anticipation of development on the east side, will cost an estimated $200,000.

What's causing delay: Hanley said the Margalas are willing to pay for that, but they don't know the price of the property. That appraisal is needed before the project can go forward. "That's what's holding the project up," Praznik asserted.

"The potential is unlimited," Hanley added. "We don't want the project to go to Pennsylvania."

The two pointed out the facility will pay the state $1.5 million annually in gasoline taxes.

If the city and township work out a joint economic development district, or JEDD, they will share the taxes that are generated.

Hubbard School District would get about $200,000 a year and the township would get $35,000 in new property taxes.

A 1-percent income tax on plaza employees' wages would go to the city.

In turn, the city would agree not to annex the property that sits in the township.

The Ohio Department of Development has approved a $200,000 Community Development Block Grant to extend city water and sewer lines to the facility. Flying J would pay a matching $200,000.

Working on deal: The JEDD has not been totally ironed out.

The city previously annexed Bell-Wick Bowl and Pine Lakes and Deer Creek golf courses.

The township has proposed that it receive a percentage of the property tax generated from the three parcels at a declining rate over 50 years.

Also, the township has proposed that any time the city annexes land, it should receive a percentage of the property tax at a declining rate before improvements are made.

The township would agree under the proposal not to oppose any annexations.




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