To maintain a high quality of life, Anderson Township looks for ways to keep property values strong

A challenge all Ohio townships share
To maintain a high quality of life, Anderson Township looks for ways to keep property values strong
Posted at 7:00 AM, Dec 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-14 07:00:33-05

Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories explaining the Anderson Township 2016 Comprehensive Plan.

ANDERSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- There's a look to Anderson Township that makes it seem like an economically healthy, high-end community with shopping, nice homes and almost forest-like scenery.

And, for the most part, what you see is what you get. There's the continuing development of the Towne Center, updates along Beechmont, and improvements to sidewalks and trails.

Amy Broghamer, a member of the Anderson Township 2016 Comprehensive Plan's steering committee and a member of the economic and development committee, calls it a revival of the township. It's a look and lifestyle that residents and city officials want to last for the next 20 years and beyond.

While economic health is a relatively small chapter in the Anderson Township 2016 Comprehensive Plan, it's basically the root of all the other chapters that cover lifestyle, housing, transportation, green space and land use.

All of that costs money -- something Anderson, like most Ohio townships, struggles with.

Revenue comes only from property taxes and Tax Increment Finance districts, and Anderson has one. The state took away the inheritance tax that used to benefit townships, and the state won't allow employment taxes.

Basically, said Paul Drury, director of planning and zoning for Anderson Township, the tax base has limitations.

"We rely heavily on property tax," he said. "It's important to continue to have stable and higher property values that will help support our tax base."

The comprehensive plan, first created in 2005, doesn't offer much in the way of new ideas for revenue to the township. Those are likely to come from townships statewide working with the state legislature to find new revenue sources.

It is, however, the township's guide to continuing to improve the community and helping to reach goals that will keep the tax base solid, he said.

Broghamer, also a realtor with Keller Williams Advisors Realty, said the township's revival is ongoing up and down Beechmont, taking buildings down and reusing spaces. She points out more local restaurants and the Fresh Thyme grocery store.

"We're bringing in new and different businesses," she said.

The township is also eyeing more office development, whether it involves new or redeveloping existing structures, which could also add to the property tax base, said Drury.

There is some opportunity for development, especially some denser development, which could help grow that base, Drury said, but "it's also important to keep what's here. It's about sustainability."

The bulk of property taxes (59 percent) pays for schools, noting that Anderson's quality schools are an important draw for families, Broghhamer said.

"We're becoming a more mature community," Broghamer said, which helps to attract more affluent developments such as Ivy Trails, where homes sell for $500,000 and above.

"That will help keep our tax base strong," she said, "and that will keep our schools strong."

The community has a mix of housing values, but to appeal to younger couples as well as empty-nesters, it needs smaller, but high-end, housing and apartments, she said. Some residents hear "apartments" and have a hard time envisioning what high-end apartments look like, which sometimes slows the conversation, she said.

"They say they don't want riff-raff," she said.

That type of construction, however, is important to the community stability, she said.

Michael Rimler, a statistical analyst who served on the steering committee, said working on the comprehensive plan was a way to have conversations about the future of the township.

"We were charged with getting the community involved as much as possible," he said. He didn't get the impression from his meetings, though, that the revenue issues were a major concern.

But, he added, Anderson Township wants the community involved, they want to hear what residents have to say.

"This plan is a vision," Rimler said. "And the economic health is one piece of it."