2008-08-09 / News

Second referendum rejected

By Charles Prince

LANCASTER - It took a bit longer, but the result was the same.

Last Friday, the Fairfield County Board of Elections rejected another referendum petition seeking to let voters decide whether 66 acres owned by Jerry and Barbara Mock should be rezoned from I-1 to I-2. The vote to grant the Mocks' protest was 2-1 with member John Dolske again voting "no."

The Board conducted a threehour hearing July 28.

Columbus attorney Donald T. McTigue attached the petition from all sides. Ron and Irene DiPaolo coordinated the petition drive. Their farm shares a 2,300 ft. fence line with the Mocks.

McTique asked Ron DePaolo to explain holes punched in the petitions and spent considerable time questioning whether "attached" meant maps and minutes had to be attached directly to the petition or if it was still attached if everything was fastened to the same folder.

McTique also introduced 11 affidavits from 10 petition signers and one who declined, stating that Ron DiPaolo told them that the Mocks wanted to put a sanitary landfill on site and accept out-ofstate waste. DiPaolo said he only talked about the Mocks' interest in a construction and demolition debris landfill. He noted that trustees had removed the option for a sanitary landfill in the township before he started seeking signatures.

McTique also claimed that one person signed one petition twice which meant the circulator either allowed that person to sign twice or didn't witness all signatures as required. He asked the Board to throw out the other 14 signatures on the petition.

Ron DiPalo testified that the resolution trustees unanimously approved changing the zoning to I-2 said the tract was 99 acres, not 66 acres they actually owned.

"This resolution isn't right," McTique acknowledged. "I don't care." He added that the Supreme Court of Ohio requires petitioners to summarize the resolution "mistakes and all."

For the Board, it came down to the requirement to provide an accurate map. That's the same requirement that tripped up petitioners trying to let voters make the final decision on the Licking-Fairfield Corporation rezoning.

The Board "finds that the map is inappropriate and misleading. The majority…finds that the map was inappropriate and inaccurate because the sections of the maps submitted to the electors were highlighted in such a way as to omit a substantial amount of the area to be rezoned when, in fact, it was to be included. The amount of acreage represented to the electors appeared to be smaller than the amount of acreage to be, in fact, rezoned."

Ron DiPaolo said Wednesday they aren't giving up. "Why are citizens held to a higher standard of accuracy than the government? he asked.

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