2008-04-05 / News

C & DD landfill could be part of proposed zoning change

By Charles Prince

MILLERSPORT - A construction and demolition debris (C & DD) landfill could be developed on an approximately 66 acre site off Ohio 37 in Walnut Township.

The request to rezone the tract from I-1 to 1-2 is one of two rezoning requests before the Walnut Township Zoning Commission at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 3. Currently, owner Jerry Mock operates a stone yard, recycling business and roll-off container business there.

All parties agree that the pending rezoning application was submitted at the request of Walnut Township. According to the Fairfield County Regional Planning Commission staff summary, Walnut Township believes the current activities must be conducted in an I-2 district, since they are not conducted within a building. The applicant doesn't concede that I-1 zoning is improper for its current activities.

The staff summary also states, "The applicant has indicated that it may want to bury demolition debris on site." At Tuesday night's regional planning commission meeting, Carrie Snoke, an attorney with Dagger Johnston representing Mock, said a feasibility study for a C & DD facility is being conducted at the site. A C & DD facility would also require a permit from Ohio EPA in addition to the proper township zoning.

Snoke, in an attachment to the rezoning application and in comments at the planning commission meeting, listed four reasons to rezone the property.

• Rezoning will allow additional business to locate on the site. Mock is in contract to sell a three acre parcel along Ohio 37 to Iron Fab, LLC for a welding and metal fabrication facility. It is agreed that I-2 zoning is required for this use.

Mock is also said to be negotiating two other potential sales - four acres to United Landmark for use as a propane storage and distribution center and three acres to Hydromaster Seeding and Tree Service - that also require I-2 zoning.

• Rezoning fitsthe character of the Ohio 37/256 area. • Potential adverse impacts from I-2 zoning will be minimized. The tract is bordered by a Rural Residential district on the north, east (across Ohio 37), west, and partially on the south. Snoke said the Mocks would take steps "over a reasonable period of time" to mound the perimeter and plant pine trees as a screen.

• FairfieldCounty's future land use plan is unreasonable. Snoke said the October 2004 version of the plan is "unreasonable and should be disregarded" because it shows the tract being used for agricultural preservation, rural residential and preservation of critical resources at a time when much of the property was already zoned I-1.

Regional planning staff recommended approval of the request noting that "it does not seem unreasonable for the Township to want the proper zoning classificationfor an existing business." Staff also agreed that the future land use plan doesn't agree with the current use. Staff also recommends "that the applicant work with the neighboring communities to alleviate concerns regarding the construction/demolition debris facility issue."

"I'm terrified of a landfill or a concrete grinding facility next door to me," neighbor Ron DiPaulo told the Commission Tuesday night.

The Commission recommended approval of the request by a voice vote. There was no discussion. Members James Hockradel, representing the Village of Baltimore, and Larry Neely, representing Walnut Township, both abstained.

The second rezoning request, reviewed by the planning commission Tuesday night and on the township zoning commission agenda Thursday night, was submitted by Licking-FairfieldCorporation to rezone approximately 289 acres from Rural Residential to I-2. The tract is on both sides of Millersport Road with frontage both on Ohio 79 and Ohio 37.

Ed Parrish, sole owner of Licking Fairfield,said he was solicited by Walnut Township Trustees for industrial zoning on this site several years ago and now a couple of months ago.

"I have given into allowing the township decide on its own," Parrish said. "I'm a farmer. I'm not a developer. He added that nothing is planned for the site.

Parrish also noted that some people consider agriculture a nuisance. Large scale farming operations may not be welcome on this site at some point.

Staff recommended the rezoning application be denied. "The future land use plan does not recommend business/commercial land uses in this area," the staff wrote. "There is a lack of water service without annexation at this time. In addition, active uses of land should be discouraged in areas prone to flooding."

Commission members unanimously accepted the staff recommendation with Neely again abstaining.

Commission decisions aren't binding. The final decision rests with township trustees. However, it takes an unanimous vote by trustees to overturn the township zoning commission's decision. Township trustees are expected to make their decision at their Tuesday, April 8 meeting at 7 p.m.

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