In a report, in my local paper, I learned that the Ohio State University is paying a church $12.8 million to keep them from building student housing on their property which is surrounded by the University. Talk about a windfall for the church. The property the church planned to use was valued at $212,000 by the county auditor. The agreement is set to last for 25 years and gives OSU the right to buy the property if the church plans to sell it. To me, the millions being paid should have purchased the property not to support the church. Is this really a good use of tax dollars?
Ohio State University will pay a church abutting its campus more than $12.8 million in return for a guarantee that the congregation will not develop housing for students on its property, according to a document provided by the university.
Ohio State has agreed to pay St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church an initial $7.5 million, then payments of about $213,000 annually for 25 years.
The agreement says Ohio State felt the project was incompatible with zoning rules and that it “constituted a potential functional and aesthetic detriment to an important gateway into the surrounding campus area and the North Residential District.”
The North Residential District refers to the university’s own plans to build 11 dorms as part of a $396 million expansion of the north campus, with a goal of requiring most sophomores to live in residence halls by fall 2016. Most freshmen already are required to live on campus.
Glazier said the financial details are part of a broader agreement that also ensures that the church will have ample nearby parking on university property during church functions. It also affords the university the first option of purchasing any church property that might go up for sale, gives it the church’s right of way to Woodruff Avenue and allows it to weigh in on any projects the church proposes, said university spokeswoman Gayle Saunders.
The church gives up their right to do anything with their property, the right of way to the street it fronts, gives Ohio State right of first refusal if the church plans to sell the property, and they get preferential treatment for more parking on University property.
The church says it is a win-win but I don’t really see an upside for tax payers. The payments are almost the entire church yearly budget. The entire property isn’t worth $12.8 million dollars and there isn’t a guarantee that Ohio State will get the property at the end of the agreement in 25 years.
I think if you plan on blowing that much cash, Ohio State should have bought the property outright.