COLUMBUS GROVE — “A Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) is an area of land designated by a local government on which property owners can receive tax incentives for constructing new or renovating existing buildings. The CRA Program permits municipalities, townships, or counties to designate areas where investment has been agging to encourage revitalization of the existing housing stock and the development of new structures. Residential, commercial, and industrial projects are all eligible,” this definition comes courtesy of The Ohio State University.

On Monday evening, Amy Sealts, Director of the Putnam County Community Improvement Corporation, came before the Columbus Grove Council with a CRA application for Grove Engineered Products. The company intends to expand its operations, and according to Sealts, is eager to do so as soon as possible.

“We received the information on Fridays,” Sealts said. “Usually we don’t have to push it through quite so quickly, but I got it over here today for your meeting tonight because he is hoping to start [the expansion] by the end of August.”

The company provides parts and components to other manufacturers of agricultural equipment. When completed, the expansion is expected to result in the addition of two to 10 new jobs in Columbus Grove. Although the owner’s urgency is clearly welcomed by the village, State law may cause a small delay in the hoped-for start date of the expansion.

Part of the planned expansion will require the village to vacate two alleyways. Both are unpaved and reportedly only technically exists as little more than grassy strips of land. The owner already owns land on both sides of one alley, and one side of the other. Vacating the alleyways will change the required setback rules, allowing for a larger building to be built. The entirety of the expansion will take place on privately held land already owned by Grove Engineered Products, and no public land will be used.

The state requires notifications to be sent to other nearby landowners, and six weeks of published notifications in the newspaper before vacating the alleys can be approved.

Approval for the CRA must also be granted by the Columbus Grove Board of Education, which has its own 45- day reporting period as well.

“Hopefully, all of this happens concurrently,” said Sealts. Council voiced their agreement and the village clerk noted that she had already prepared all of the required paperwork in anticipation of council passing a motion to accept the CRA, so that it can be senton to the Columbus Grove Board of Education. Council quickly approved the motion.

During Police Chief Sean Hiler’s report to council, it was noted that the recently passed village ordinance on requiring inspections of golf carts for them to be considered street legal contained a small error on the example inspection sheet that was included.

The ordinance calls for two tail lights to be present on the golf cart. Both the inspection sheet and the Ohio Revised Code calls for only a single tail light. However, the ORC also states that villages can make any ordinance that might be passed more restrictive.

Hiler elected to change the inspection sheet to two tail lights, instead of asking council to pass a revised ordinance. He also reported that all golf carts already inspected by the the police department had two tail lights.

In response to a question from council, Hiler also clarified that there is no fee associated with a golf cart inspection. Some villages in Ohio do charge such a fee, but Columbus Grove does not.

The next meeting of the Columbus Grove Village Council will be held on Monday, July 23, at 7:30 p.m. at the Village Hall. All meetings are open to the public and they are invited to attend.