Trump rallies Ohioans at the Delaware County Fairgrounds

By John Bonus, Transcript Reporter

With the election drawing closer, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made a stop in Delaware, Ohio for a packed rally Oct. 20.

The rally took place at the Delaware fairgrounds and a huge crowd of supporters greeted Trump. People began gathering at the event early in the morning and security had to close the gates hours before the event started.

Trump opened the rally by remarking about possible election results.

“I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election,” Trump said. “If I win.”

The remark was in reference to his past suggestions that the election may be rigged in Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s favor. He continued by talking about the problem of voter fraud and how it could possibly influence the election results.

It is traditional in presidential elections for the loser to gracefully accept the winner as the people’s choice, but as Trump has shown in his campaign, he is anything but a traditional candidate.

Several students from Ohio Wesleyan attended or at least attempted to attend the rally, including sophomore Cole Petty.

Petty is the president of College Republicans on campus and works as a volunteer for the Trump campaign. He has worked at rallies in the past, but was unable to work at the one in Delaware due to the number of volunteers.

Petty said he wasn’t bothered because he sees the large influx of supporters and volunteers as a great sign for the Republican nominee.

“Even though I didn’t get into the Delaware Trump rally, I still think that it’s great that we have this many people coming,” Petty said. “The fact that they have to turn so many people away at his rallies shows that he may have larger support than the media portrays him to have.”

Petty is one of many students who are excited to see how Ohio and the rest of the country will vote in this election.

Cost of living in Delaware County

By: Gopika Nair, Copy Editor

delawareDelaware County residents have a lot to smile about.

Low cost of living and a low unemployment rate make it an ideal place to live, according to interviews with a few residents.

But not only is it considered one of the best places to live in the nation, it is also one of the happiest, according to a study released in 2015.

SmartAsset evaluated the quality of life in the U.S. by examining factors such as family stability, physical health, personal financial health and economic security. Delaware County ranked second, behind Loudoun County in Virginia.

“The county’s median income is $89,757, while a three­-person household in the county would need at least $34,057 to afford the necessities,” SmartAsset said in its study. “That adds up to an income­-to-­expenses ratio of 2.64, second highest of the nearly 1,000 counties in our analysis.”

However, residents worry about housing shortage and increase in education expenditure.

But compared to other counties in the nation, Delaware’s cost of living is cheap and hasn’t seen a significant increase in the past five years, according to a study by Bert Sperling, a demographer and researcher based in New York.

Sperling manages Sperling’s Best Places, a website that informs people about the quality of life in the U.S. and serves as a resource for those seeking relocation.

Based on a U.S. average of 100, an amount below 100 means that a county or city’s cost of living is low, while an amount above 100 indicates that the cost of living is high. Delaware’s cost of living is 94.5, which makes it cheaper than than the nation’s average, Sperling said in his study.

As of 2014, Sperling’s Best Places revealed that the average cost of food in a grocery store in Delaware is 93.1. The cost of housing and utilities, including mortgage payments, apartment and property tax, is 95. The average cost of gasoline, car insurance, maintenance expenses and mass transit fare is 98, while the cost of miscellaneous services such as clothing, repairs and entertainment is 91.

The only sector that is not cheaper than the U.S. average is the health care cost, which was 100.

Even so, Delaware County’s low cost of living was one of the reasons why Jerry Plak moved from Dayton in Montgomery County to Delaware city on Oct. 22.

“I’m originally from Ohio, but I wanted to move back [to Delaware], retire here and live more affordably,” Plak said.

The county’s low unemployment rate also influenced Plak’s decision to relocate. Delaware County has an unemployment rate of 2.7 percent, according to data by Delaware County Regional Planning Commission.

“Even during the period of high unemployment, Delaware was still the lowest,” Plak said. “[The jobs available] may not have been for everybody, but there was employment.”

Alice Simon, an economics professor at Ohio Wesleyan University, said the central Ohio area as a whole has a low unemployment rate.

“It’s the capital, so it has government,” Simon said. “It has agriculture, it has a lot of low­-tech industries and it has a very large financial sector.”delaware1

In fact, JPMorgan Chase & Co., a banking firm, is the top private sector employer in Delaware County, according to Delaware County’s profile on the Columbus 2020 website.

The professional and business services sector is one of the highest employed industries in Delaware County, the county profile reported. But nearly 75 percent of employment opportunities lie in retail, government, education, health, manufacturing and transportation.

“Because [Delaware County] is so diversified, it weathers any kind of economic downturn …and is also able to keep people employed,” Simon said. “Ohio is also one of the Midwest states that’s still growing. That, in itself, attracts labor.”

Simon said one of the main reasons why people move to Delaware County and seek employment is the low cost of living.

Both Simon and Scott Sanders, executive director of the Delaware County Regional Planning Commission, agreed that the biggest expense is housing.

“Once you include the payment, the taxes and the interest, the biggest chunk [of money] goes toward housing,” Sanders said.

But as of 2014, the median home cost in Delaware County was $161,100, while the cost was $179,667 in Columbus. In 2015, housing expenses in Columbus went up to $194,758, according to the monthly residential statistics on the Columbus REALTORS website.

Another concern for residents of Delaware County is education, Sanders said. The population of residents who are three years or older and are enrolled in school is 123,101 as of 2015, according to the data on Delaware County’s regional planning website.

According to Sperling’s Best Places, the school expenditure per student here is higher than the U.S. average. Delaware residents spend $12,544 as of 2014, while the U.S. average is $12,435.

Though the cost of living in Delaware County is low compared to other counties in Ohio, not everyone is optimistic about the next five years.

Ryan Wince, who has lived in Delaware for the past four years after moving from Worthington, said the cost of living will increase as the economy grows.

But Holly Quaine, president of Delaware Area Chamber of Commerce, said the likelihood of the cost of living in Delaware increasing significantly is slim.

“The culture of Delaware is [one that doesn’t aim] to outdo the guy next to you,” Quaine said. “So even though we have excellent schools and health care, it isn’t an expensive place to live. It’s not a waterfront community, it’s not a downtown community and it’s not so urbanized that there’s a shortage for places to live.”

Simon also said Delaware will see an increase in the cost of living, but won’t become unaffordable. The addition of a mass transit system, however, might affect the cost of living.

“If they had a better mass transit system and a better rail system, you’re going to see massive increases in the cost of living,” Simon said.

Dan Charna, an assistant economics professor at OWU, said if interest rates go up and inflation starts to rise, then the cost of living will increase not just in Delaware but everywhere else.

Relative to Franklin County and other surrounding areas, he does not think that the cost of living in Delaware will increase dramatically.

Though some residents of Delaware County believe that the cost of living is going to increase over the next five years, most are still content living here.

Allan Wise, a resident of Delaware County for 23 years, said, “I’m thrilled [to be living here],” because he has been able to live comfortably due to the county’s low cost of living.

In the Zone: Retail builders vie for permission to develop Delaware County land

By Marissa Alfano, Tim Alford and Brittany Vickers

Transcript Reporters

Directly off the Delaware-Sunbury exit of Interstate 71 lies a swampy, unkempt tract of land behind a Burger King.  Across the street is an undeveloped 88-acre quadrant with NorthGate signs and street lamps along the adjacent road leading to developed land. According to Delaware City Trustee Adam Fleischer, one of these plots of land will support an outlet mall by Christmas 2014.

The Simon Property Group, joined with the Tanger Factory Outlet Centers; and Craig Reality Group, joined with developer Pat Shivley are currently competing for a chance to build an outlet mall on the southeastern section of Interstate 71/Ohio 37/U.S. 36 interchange.

Simon Tanger announced their plans in November for a 350,000-square foot outlet mall that would, according to Fleischer, house more than 90 upscale brand name and designer outlet stores such as J. Crew and Van Maur. The project is expected to create 300 jobs during the construction phase, and once completed, is expected to employ more than 900 people in retail and sales. Tanger already owns the Jeffersonville outlets and Simon owns the Mall at Tuttle Crossing in Dublin.

Shivley, who is teaming up with the Craig Reality Group, has plans for an upscale mall as well, but their project would also include a sports complex with 20 full size soccer and lacrosse fields, eight to 12 baseball fields, a 60,000-square-foot indoor sports facility and plans for a natatorium in the future.

According to Shivley’s zoning application, the project is anticipated to be visited by over 3 million shoppers annually, who will spend in excess of $300 million in Delaware County. Over 2,000 people are expected to be employed in its shops and restaurants.

Nancy Burton, Public Information Office District 6 contact for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), said a Traffic Impact Study is required for any developer in Ohio.

“Anytime a developer or a group or an individual wants to propose building anything that would handle large volumes of traffic…the developer is required to provide ODOT and the county…how the development will move traffic in and out of their development and interchange,” she said.

She said solutions to this include stoplights, stop signs and turn lanes, and that it is the responsibility of the developers to build them.  ODOT does not have a preference or any input on which developer is chosen. As long as the developer meets ODOT’s standards, the developer will get clearance.

To date, the only Traffic Impact Study received has been from the NorthGate Development Group, which Shivley is working with.

In addition to meeting this requirement, the developer would also need to go through a re-zoning process.

According to Fleischer, the current areas have been primarily agricultural for the past 20 years. It is currently zoned as agriculture and can only be used to grow crops.  Both developers are interested in rezoning the land to commercial use, which would allow an outlet mall to be built there. No developer can break ground to build a mall until the land is rezoned.

Fleischer said although the outlet mall would be in Berkshire Township, he thinks it would be beneficial for the community at large in more ways than one.

“I am personally a supporter of the development, not only for the jobs and the environment, but also because of the tax revenue it’s going to bring,” he said. “This area of Delaware County is slightly depressed relative to the rest of the county. Delaware County is the wealthiest county in Ohio right now per capita and this area is nice, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not Powell. It’s not Liberty. It’s not Lewis Center. I think we could benefit greatly from it.”

Fleischer said he thinks development is going to occur, and he prefers that when it is done, it be done right.

“You can’t halt development, and you can’t halt it for its own sake,” Fleischer said. “But what I say to them (people who don’t want the area to change) is, ‘Well, we can’t stop it, but we can make sure it is done right.’ We can make sure that density levels are correct; we can make sure that tax money is going to the township and to the community and to the county and to the state.”

There have been fears of annexation from the city of Columbus and Sunbury, which could put the outlet mall out of the city’s jurisdiction and allow its tax revenues to flow elsewhere. Fleischer said this is always a constant threat when there is development because neighboring cities want to share tax revenue.

Berkshire Township Trustee Rod Myers told Delaware Gazette reporter Dustin Ensinger that he is in strong opposition to any development on the land. His main concern is that the property will be annexed to Sunbury, putting a gap in Berkshire Township.

“If it does get through zoning and it comes to me, I won’t vote for this outlet mall as a trustee,” Myers told Ensinger.

Sunbury Village Administrator Dave Martin told Ensinger there has already been some discussion with Shivley about annexation; however, Shivley has not committed to anything.

Outside of annexation, Myers said he is also concerned with the increase in traffic and how a sewer service will be provided to the area.

Despite his strong opposition, Fleischer said he has never heard of an outlet mall being denied permission to build.

Delaware County Commissioner Ken O’Brien said he hopes work will be done to roads in the area if development happens, but he is in support of adding an outlet mall in general. He has not, however, taken a position to support either outlet yet because the developers still have to make a case before the county. He said he is most concerned with a sound planning process and will be supportive of the malls if they are going to be done well.

According to O’Brien, the new outlet mall should be capable of successful coexistence with Polaris Fashion Place or Easton Town Center in Columbus. He said he thinks it will draw people to the areas in general and the malls will be different enough from each other that it won’t cause too much competition.

“I don’t see it as a competition to those kinds of malls,” he said. “I see it as a compliment to those malls.”

While Ohio Wesleyan is close in proximity to where these malls could be located, Fleischer said the population of roughly 2,000 students does not compare to Delaware County’s 160,000 residents, so it is not being taken into heavy consideration by the developers. However, these companies could look toward OWU students for retail employment opportunities and potential costumers.

Junior Casey Smiley, a Delaware resident, said she supports the idea of building an outlet mall in the area and not having to travel as far to reach the others that are currently available.

“I’m excited to get some great bargains at the new outlets,” she said. “I don’t think the traffic will be bad, but even if there is some more traffic, it will totally be worth it.”

OWU students have expressed interest in the sports complex portion of Shivley’s plan and not as much interest in the ideas of the outlet malls.

Sophomore Sam Weeks said she would be happy if the Shivley mall and sports complex was built.

“I have to drive all the way to Polaris for an indoor facility because I am on the soccer team, and if it was closer then I wouldn’t have to spend as much money on gas,” she said. “And that would be wonderful.”

Junior Nazar Zhdan did not like the idea of a shopping mall, but being a big soccer fan, was excited about the prospect of the sports facility.

“A sports facility sounds great; a mall sounds horrible,” he said. “We shop too much and spend money on stuff we don’t need.”

Senior Carly Hallal said she thought a smaller strip mall would be better than a full-size outlet mall.

“Polaris isn’t that far away; it’s only a fifteen minute drive,” she said. “And the area is already overdeveloped, so we don’t need it.”

Junior Dre White, a varsity basketball player at OWU, is also excited about the prospect of having sports resources closer to campus.

“I need a Nike around here,” he said. “Closer outlet malls would give students somewhere else to go besides Polaris or Easton that would be so much more convenient.  If students were looking for employment, I’m sure they could work there, too.”

With both malls expected to be completed in time for the holiday shopping season, many of the decisions as to which facility will be built will be made in the coming months. At press time, the issue of annexation is still unresolved and neither developer has withdrawn from the rezoning process.