2010-10-09 / News

Hearing on zoning change for landfill set for Oct. 11

By Charles Prince

MILLERSPORT – Jerry and Barbara Mock, owners of Walnut C&DD LLC, are making a second attempt to get approximately 61.85 acres off Ohio 37 rezoned to I-2 General Industrial District.

That I-2 designation is the only remaining obstacle to their plans to operate a 34.8 acre construction and demolition debris landfill on the tract. Walnut C&DD’s plans were approved by the Fairfield County Health Department with technical assistance from Ohio EPA. The facility has a 2010 operating license from the county health department.

The landfill is not permitted to accept garbage or solid waste, but would eventually tower over the surrounding landscape at a maximum height of 120 feet.

Walnut Township Trustees unanimously approved the Mock’s first application in May 2009. That decision was immediately challenged by neighbors Ron and Irene DiPaolo and their Cherry Lane Develpment, LLC. They timely submitted a petition for a referendum on the change that would give township voters the final say on the rezoning request. That petition was successfully challenged by the Mocks before the Board of Elections, primarily because it included an inaccurate map – the same one included with Mock’s application.

The DiPaolos headed to court where Judge Richard E. Berens found defects in the original application and the township’s procedures. His injunction prohibited township officials from issuing the required Certificate of Zoning Clearance.

The Mocks filed a new application for rezoning on Sept. 10, 2010 and an amended one on Sept. 21.

Rezoning applications are first reviewed by the Fairfield County Regional Planning Commission staff. RCP staff, as it did in 2008, recommended approval to the Commission. That recommendation notes that some of the property is already zoned I-1, which is Light Industrial, with “intensive uses” on all the parcels. “Because the land currently has industrial-type uses in place it does not seem unreasonable for Walnut Township to want the proper zoning classification,” the staff recommendation read. “RPC staff would recommend that the applicant work with the neighboring communities, property owners and licensing agencies to alleviate concerns regarding the construction/demolition debris facility issue.”

The Village of Baltimore raised objections to the landfill in 2008 and again last month. Village Administrator Marsha Hall wrote RPC that Ohio EPA is requiring it to move its wellfield for drinking water and the alternative recommended by its engineering consultants is to move further east. If the landfill goes into operation Baltimore’s new wellfield would be 1,000 to 1,200 feet of the fiveyear travel time from the facility, according to Hall. That would require costly additional monitoring or force the village to choose another site.

The staff’s recommendation was presented to the Commission at its monthly meeting on Oct. 5. Larry Neeley, who represents Walnut Township on the Commission, asked that members vote on this recommendation by a show of hands rather than the usual voice vote. The vote was two for, 13 against with two absentions. Neeley voted “no.” The Commission’s action is only a recommendation.

The next step is a public hearing before the Walnut Township Zoning Commission. That’s set for 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 11 at the township office. The township commission will then make a recommendation to township trustees. Their recommendation could be made Monday night. Trustees then must set a public hearing within 30 days. Trustees will decide whether to approve the application or reject it.

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