Q: What is a Joint Economic Development District?
A: A Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) describes the result of an arrangement between a township and a city (or a village) that allows them to share the benefits and responsibilities of commercial and industrial development in Ohio. A JEDD permits a regional approach to economic development.
Q: Our township and a nearby city are considering a JEDD. How is a JEDD formed?
A: First, the city and your township negotiate a tentative JEDD contract. The contract covers issues such as the provision of city services, which entity will provide police, fire and road services; zoning, land use and planning issues; and agreements as to tax abatements and how to divide the JEDD income tax. The contract also identifies the property that will ultimately become the JEDD.
After these tentative agreements have been reached, maps and plans are drawn. The city and township must hold separate public hearings, and must make available all JEDD-related documents at least 30 days before the scheduled hearings.
Then, the city and township approach the landowners, because a majority of current business owners and a majority of landowners must sign a petition saying they wish to be included within the JEDD. Once there are enough signatures, the county commissioners review the JEDD proposal. Assuming the township and city have provided all the required documents, the commissioners generally must approve the JEDD. In some cases, the JEDD is voted on in the next election by voters in the unincorporated area of the township. If, however, all three trustees have unanimously approved the JEDD, the landowners and business owners have signed the JEDD petition, and all the land is already properly zoned as commercial or industrial, then the JEDD can be created without requiring an election in the township, although it is still subject to referendum.
Q: Must we use a standard JEDD contract?
A: No. A JEDD allows you to decide who provides services based on who can best provide those services rather than on geographic lines. It allows you to consider local conditions, and manage economic development locally. Communities entering a JEDD should not attempt to use a standard contract, but should take JEDD negotiations seriously to create economic development according to local desires, conditions and needs.
Q: How would our JEDD operate?
A: A JEDD is governed by a five-member board. By law, the board must include one representative each from the township and the city that are included in the JEDD, as well as one representative from the JEDD’s business owners, and one from the employees of the JEDD’s businesses. These four members choose a fifth member, who acts as chairperson. This board then imposes the JEDD income tax, which is normally the same as the city's income tax. The board also governs the JEDD. Under a recent law change, a county may be a party to a JEDD contract, which usually occurs when county water and/or sewer are involved.
Q: Is the law governing JEDDs the same for all of Ohio’s 88 counties?
A: No. Nearly all Ohio counties must follow the general JEDD law of Ohio, which provides several approaches to creating a JEDD. In these counties, communities intending to form a JEDD may choose which procedures they wish to use. The exceptions are Ohio’s two charter counties, Summit and Cuyahoga, which have an additional procedure that does not require a petition of landowners or business owners, though it does require a vote of the public in the townships.
Q: Can a non-charter county in Ohio create a JEDD without a petition signed by landowners and business owners?
A: Not at this time, although there have been efforts in the Ohio legislature to change that requirement.
Q: How long would our city/township JEDD contract last?
A: The contract term varies and often is tied to the useful life of water and sewer lines, which ranges from 75 to 100 years. As a result, many are 50-year contracts, renewable for another 50 years if both parties agree. Generally, both cities and townships favor a long-term contract. Cities benefit because the water and sewer lines they are installing in the township areas are designed to last for approximately 100 years, and townships generally want to be protected from annexation for as long as possible.
This "Law You Can Use" consumer legal information column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). It was prepared by Akron attorney Al Schrader, who represents local Ohio governments on JEDDs, annexation and similar legal matters.