North Canton Water Board met for the first time Thursday to approve an agreement with a Jackson Township development.

North Canton Water Board

Thursday meeting

KEY ACTION: Approved a water service agreement with Willmoll Development I for a nearly six-acre vacant commercial property on Portage Street NW in Jackson Township.

DISCUSSION: Thursday's meeting was the first for the board.

North Canton City Council adopted emergency legislation in October establishing the four-member board — consisting of the director of administration, the law director, the director of finance and a representative from council — and allowing the city to negotiate outside water and sanitary sewer agreements without requiring that those properties be annexed into city.

The agreement with Willmoll Development does not include an annexation requirement. That requirement was a deal-breaker for the developers, said Director of Administrative Services Patrick DeOrio.

The agreement does require Willmoll to pay any costs involved in tapping into city water lines, which run by the property.

The water lines are concrete and a specialized contractor will need to be hired to complete the work, said City Engineer Robert Graham.

Willmoll also will pay the city outside water rates. The city has the water capacity to service the property.

The property, near the northeast corner of Whipple Avenue NW and Portage Street NW, is being developed by DeHoff Development Co., according to documents included with water service application. The lot will be subdivided and one portion includes a medical and professional office with 149 parking spaces.

City Councilman Daryl Revoldt, who is not on the water board, said the city should require the property to be annexed, as it shares a border with North Canton.

North Canton should use annexation as a tool, he said. "We've missed opportunities by not annexing."

Waiving an annexation clause also should be decided by City Council, not the water board, Revoldt added.

The city cannot compel a property to annex into the city, DeOrio said. "That may have been the case in the '70s or '80s but it's not the case today."

Council agreed that the water board should make these decisions when it passed legislation establishing the group, Cerreta said.

A strategy of requiring annexation hasn't been successful, he said, adding that developers are revitalizing a blighted area and the city will benefit economically.

Law Director Tim Fox, a member of the board, abstained from all votes at the meeting.