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Sewer Service Transfer To City of Columbus Makes Path for Casino Annexation

Franklin County Commissioners passed a resolution that will get clean water to neighborhoods in so-called "pockets of pollution." But WOSU reports the agreement comes on the heels of a fall out between the City of Columbus and the West Side casino developers giving the city an advantage in the annexation debate.

Franklin County Commissioners authorized an agreement with the City of Columbus that would change the county's sewer service in Franklin Township.

The resolution would transfer the responsibility of sewer service delivery to the old Delphi plant site from the county to the city - the site where a new casino is being built.

While the resolution provides clean water to 23 neighborhoods that have, for years, been plagued with unsafe water issues, it also comes at a time when the City of Columbus is fighting with West Side casino developer Penn National Gaming over water and annexation.

Franklin County Commissioner John O'Grady said he knew there have been disagreements between Columbus and Penn National. And he said commissioners support the city.

"Penn agreed to annexation way back when. Annexation is an important piece of this deal. So there's no question that we knew this was there, but we also when asked to make this change, we also said, hey, this is an opportunity,'" he said. Penn National agreed it would annex the site to Columbus by September. In exchange, the company wanted the city to consider tax breaks and other help. Penn National also is having the site tested to see if water wells would be feasible. Penn National spokesperson Bob Tennenbaum said the company was bullied by the city to move from the Arena District to its current location. And said he does not fault county commissioners.

"The commissioners did what the city wanted them to do. This water contract that they discussed this morning does have benefits for numerous neighborhoods in the county," Tennenbaum.

Tennenbaum said Penn National will continue annexation talks with the city. But now that Columbus has control over the sewer lines to the casino site, it all but forces the casino developer to get sewer service from the city.