2010-10-30 / News

Council can’t see the lot for the parking spaces

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE – Buckeye Lake Village’s attorney doesn’t believe an alleged parking lot in a residential area along Anchors Way is a violation of the village’s zoning code, but not everyone’s convinced.

Former Buckeye Lake Village Council member Peggy Wells alleged that Buckeye Lake Planning Commission Chair Karen Cookston created a parking lot on adjoining lots she owns on Anchors Way without a proper permit. Mayor Rick Baker sent Wells a letter stating, “I have conferred with the village solicitor (Butch Bindley) and his opinion is that there is no definition or regulation of ‘parking lot’ within our zoning code.”

“As for the use of the parking space in this case, the space is apparently being used by a tenant of Ms. Cookston with her consent. Since she is the owner of both lots, (Bindley) does not believe that to be a violation of the zoning code. In fact, I’ve been advised that there are several other similar situations within the village,” wrote Baker.

During Monday night’s village council meeting, council members accepted Bindley’s opinion and declined Cookston’s offer to meet with council to discuss the allegations. They consider the matter closed. Several members were absent.

Wells, however, does not. Monday night, during the public comment period, Wells responded to Baker’s letter. “Our zoning code may not use the words ‘parking lot,’ which is defined as ‘a lot where cars are parked,’ but it does use the words ‘parking spaces,’” she said.

Wells said the Anchors Way lots in question are zoned R2 (Residential 2). She said R2 zoning requires that parking spaces for all detached residential uses must be located on the same lot as the residences they serve. “This interpretation is the only one that makes sense,” said Wells. Otherwise, property owners could be creating parking spaces on vacant land throughout the residential districts. “How many of us want a parking lot 160 feet long across the street from our primary residence?” asked Wells, adding that the zoning code also states that no building or other structure may be moved, added to, structurally altered, nor may any building structure, or land be established or changed in use without a zoning inspector’s permit. “I believe you are playing word games and bending the rules to benefit one individual,” said Wells to Baker. “Do the zoning regulations apply equally to everyone or not?”

Wells added that she’s often called a “naysayer,” but she believes it’s important to present issues to council, positive or negative. “You don’t know how to fix things until you have a diagnosis,” she said.

Baker said Tuesday that the only further action village officials intend to take regarding the parking lot situation is to clean up questionable areas of the zoning code.

Ironically, earlier in Monday night’s meeting, Council President Charlene Hayden read a statement urging village officials to remain focused on positive leadership.

“We have three commissions whose members are working very hard to improve the quality of life for people in the village and they are doing very positive things through the giving of their time,” Hayden read. “Every one of these commission members has held, or is currently holding, a very responsible job. These commission members deserve our support in their efforts. I don’t know of anyone who holds a commission position with the intent of personal gain. For those who are still working, it sometimes means their jobs suffer as a result of the time they are giving to this village and its mission.

“We, as council members, are also giving out time, energy, and expertise to this village and from five years ago until now we have accomplished some pretty amazing things, many of which people said would be impossibleexample, public water,” Hayden read. “I feel that we temporarily lost the focus of our goals and the goals of our commissions due to negative news reports and nay saying. I would like for us to regain that focus and continue moving this village through the goals we will set for the future. We owe that to the residents who voted for us. I think they told us in the last election that they were looking for positive leadership.”

In other village council news:

• Buckeye Lake Street Supervisor Mark Dymek said some the village’s tattered holiday decorations are embarrassing. “They’re at the point where they’re pretty bad,” he said to council after Hayden told him someone might be willing to refurbish the decorations. “They make us look bad,” said Dymek. He said the person who volunteered to work on the decorations might change his mind after he sees them.

Council members wondered if Licking County has any decorations with which it would be willing to part, or if the county could help Buckeye Lake find a good deal on new decorations.

“The County really doesn’t have any Christmas decorations, except the two or three pieces that go on the front of our administration building,” said Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb. He said the private non-profit Courthouse Lighting Committee owns the lights and decorations that go on the Courthouse and Gazebo on the Square. “I don’t believe the committee has any old or surplus pole decorations,” he said. Most of their decorations are long stringers and pieces attached to the side of a building. Bubb said the Courthouse Lighting Committee does most of its business with Bronners Christmas Land in Frankenmuth, Michigan and with Nida Lighting in Columbus. “If someone at Buckeye Lake wants to contact either of these vendors, we can supply names,” he said.

• Hayden said she noticed the village has no rules to limit time for individual public comment. “We certainly want to welcome public comment, but we also want to be respectful of everyone’s time, meaning the members of council and the people who come to council,” she said. Hayden said placing time limits would encourage presenters to be more organized and prepared to speak, eliminate irrelevant information, and discourage repetition. Council members did not decide on a time limit during Monday night’s meeting.

• Hayden said Bindley is still reviewing a dog and cat ordinance for the village that would require some animals to be spayed or neutered. “He’s sent it to the prosecutor for an opinion,” she said. Bindley will have comments for council and the mayor after the prosecutor has reviewed the ordinance and sent it to Bindley.

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