2007-09-08 / News

What's that smell?

What's By Scott Rawdon

HEBRON- Canyon Road resident Arnold Smith told the Union Township Trustees during their Labor Day night meeting that there was something unpleasant in a ditch near his home - raw sewage. Apparently, he said, his neighbor's septic system is percolating from the ground and onto his property. Smith said he contacted the Licking County Health Department, which didn't offer an immediate solution.

"It's still coming out of the ground," Smith told the trustees. He didn't blame his neighbors, whom he said recently moved into the house and most likely inherited the problem.

Trustee Jack Justice said the trustees would make an appointment with the Licking County Health Department to have a representative meet them and Smith at the place where the sewage is seeping. Smith said that he's retired and shouldn't have a problem making the meeting at any time.

In other Union Township news:

• The final draft of the proposed Licking County subdivision regulations will be heard by t Licking County Commissioners Sept 10, 10 a.m., on the fourth floor of the Licking County Administration Building in Newark. In a previous meeting, the trustees voiced major objections to the regulations, believing that they give the county too much control over local subdivision design.

The trustees' main objection is the requirement of roundabouts, with center grassy areas, in place of solidly paved culdesacs capping dead end subdivision streets. Justice said with roundabouts snow plows can only push snow around the outside of the circle, which piles up snow along the adjoining driveway entrances.

He believes that storm water will pool somewhere on the culdesac and won't drain properly.

If a fire truck parks on the circle in the event of an emergency, he said, the circle effectively blocks more emergency vehicles. There's also concern for who will mow the grass within a roundabout, he said. Without an "iron-clad" homeowners association for the subdivision, the township could become saddled with the responsibility.

Currently, there are two roundabouts in Union Township.

The trustees sent a statement to the Licking County Planning Commission outlining other objections to the proposed subdivision:

1. In the case of a proposed 40 foot buffer zone adjacent to a major collector road, who will be responsible for the maintenance of the buffer if the township takes over maintenance of the subdivision? In such a case, is it fair for those who receive no benefit from the buffer to share in the cost to maintain it?

2. It was mentioned, said Justice, that a lack of retention pond maintenance by owners or homeowners associations is causing flooding. Where are the assurances, he asked, that these problems are being addressed?

3. The proposal states that the costs and maintenance of street and walkway lighting in high density developments will be determined by the trustees. Justice said the trustees can only enforce the Ohio Revised Code and do not have the ability to assess costs to residents.

4. Justice said common shared access points are unfavorable anywhere in Union Township. Obviously, he said, county planning shares the same opinion because at least three pages of the proposed new regulations are written to "circumvent" the inherent problems with such a plan.

Previously, Licking County Planning Commission Director Jerry Brems said that absolutely nothing changes in the administration of the regulations and the proposed changes were drafted by a committee of 15 to 20 people represented by many walks of life - "anybody with an interest" in subdivision regulations, not the planning commission staff.

Brems added that the township would never be required to take over the proposed 40 foot buffer zone and all retention ponds are maintained by the county.

Under the proposed regulations, Brems said that township trustees have the authority to pay the electric bill for street and walkway lighting in high density residential areas. If they don't want to be responsible for paying, he said, they are not required to be.

Brems said that shared access points are never preferred, but can be accommodated in extreme instances of limited visibility or road frontage.

• The trustees didn't know who provided them a copy of a page from the book "1909 Centennial History of Newark and Licking County" by E.M.K. Brister about ghost towns of Union Township, but the page holds some interesting information.

For instance, the site of Union Station, near the railroad crossing on Ohio 37 at Union Station Road, is considered a ghost town. The town, not always called Union Station, once consisted of a small railroad station, several small buildings, a sawmill, and a post office.Currently, Union Station has a church and several homes, whose owners may be surprised to learn they live in a "ghost town."

James Holmes, Jr., a member of one of the "first families" of Union Township, was buried in the Wells (Luray) Cemetery on Refugee Road in a copper vat filled with alcohol to preserve his body. The vat had a glass top for viewing purposes. He was buried with his dog. Holmes' wife refused to be buried in that manner, but his daughter eventually joined him in the tomb.

According to the book, the odd tomb stayed in place for 50 years until vandals destroyed the top of the vat. A concrete slab was placed over the damaged vat and a marker was placed on the concrete. Today, Brister wrote, the tomb looks similar to a square bunker with no windows or doors.

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