WEST LAFAYETTE -- T.J. Justice, a representative of the Coshocton County Port Authority, was present at the March 9 West Lafayette Village Council meeting and presented information on a JEDD (Joint Economic Developmental District) proposal at the request of village council.

Justice said he has been working on negotiations with the owners of private owned property at the west edge of the village for the past year with a JEDD site in mind for the property.

Justice discussed the village's options and potential benefits of entering into a JEDD with the county. Justice said the property is not located within the village corporation limits; therefore, the village must decide whether to annex the area or not.

According to Justice, the village would benefit from annexation by being able to collect property taxes from the residences and businesses that are already established near the site. The village could reportedly collect up to 30 percent taxes from business owners and their employees.

Justice informed council that they would have to decide on annexation prior to entering the JEDD as the village could not decide to annex at a later date.

Justice said, "You (the village) cannot go into the JEDD, then turn around and decide to annex once you see that the area is starting to grow with new businesses."

Several large business owners have already been looking at the site but that there are no commitments at this time. The site is a prime area for growth and expansion, according to Justice.

There are no guarantees that the area will flourish with multiple businesses, but he said, "West Lafayette still has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, regardless. We (Coshocton County Port Authority) are looking at the future for West Lafayette, and the surrounding county."

The JEDD was originally created to help small towns and villages recover debt, increase growth and extend their services in lieu of annexation.

The Coshocton County Port Authority would have pending access to funding for infrastructure from government resources.

Council is very interested in the JEDD and plan to discuss the matter further.

Other items discussed and approved:

* Transferring money from the FEMA fund to the street department fund. The village has recently received the first check from FEMA for reimbursement of damage that was created by the September 2008 storm. The clean-up costs were originally taken from the village's street department funds and will be replaced by the FEMA reimbursement.

* The village will participate in a statewide tornado drill on March 25.

* West Lafayette Chamber of Commerce will have their next meeting March 24.

* Fiscal Officer Lisa Derr said the 2008 village audit was completed. Derr said the village only had two minor compliance issues identified and that the village was not fined for them.