2012-07-07 / News

Supporters push for greenspace levy

By Scott Rawdon

UNION TOWNSHIP – A group of concerned Union Township residents told the trustees Monday evening that a greenspace levy, similar to what Granville Township voters approved, would not stifle development within the township, but it would help the township maintain its rural character.

Granville Township began purchasing properties and development rights in 1997 to block annexations to the City of Newark and surrounding municipalities. Deeds Road resident and Granville School Board President Amy Deeds said a one-mill levy would raise $254,000.

Trustee President John Slater said that income, if voters approved, could be used toward conservation easements, or an agreement not to develop a property, as well as outright purchase of land.

Deeds said a conservation easement could be placed on a property at any point, the easement would stay with the property regardless of who owns it, and the property would remain on the tax roll. She said there are also federal matching funds available.

Township resident Doug Wagner said property owners who sell development rights would retain the right to have one or two oil wells on the property. “We’re not trying to take mineral rights away,” he said, adding that each conservation easement contract is unique. “We’re trying to limit development instead of trying to eliminate it,” said Wagner. “We’re trying to prevent 50 homes on 25 acres.”

He said greenspace levy supporters feel like they have some “breathing room” right now because there’s not much development happening, but they believe that now is the time to put the tools in place for when development begins again.

Trustee Rick Black asked if a greenspace levy could be used for a community park. Wagner said it couldn’t be used for recreation if it entailed erecting a permanent structure on the property. The property could have walking and horse trails, but parking space would need to be purchased. He said passing a greenspace levy would be “a challenge” in the current economic environment, “but you may be surprised by the support.”

Black said he would like feed back from the Buckeye Lake Village and Hebron governments. Slater agreed, saying he didn’t want to forge ahead until he heard from the municipalities within Union Township.

Deeds said supporters suggest a one-mill levy, possibly for the November ballot. She said supporters have no specific properties in mind right now.

Slater repeated that trustees don’t want to push anything along until hearing from the municipalities.

Buckeye Lake Mayor Rick Baker said Tuesday that the concept of a greenspace levy may be counterproductive for the Village of Buckeye Lake. “There are a lot of places I really want to get developed,” he said. Baker said he couldn’t think of any areas of the village that should be protected as greenspace. He said the village may want to retain properties after derelict structures have been removed, so they can be turned into “mini-parks” for public use.

In other township news:

• Monday night, Slater said all township roads were clear of debris following Friday evening’s intense wind storm. The next step, he said is to clean up all the brush. Slater said it will be chipped into mulch with the larger logs left along the road as firewood for the public.

“There’ll be plenty of wood for people to cut up,” said Black.

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