2013-02-23 / News

Cemetery may be turned over to township

By Scott Rawdon

UNION TOWNSHIP – The Licking Cemetery Association may disband and give Union Township the responsibility of maintaining Licking Cemetery unless the trustees agree to demolish the abandoned church at the corner of Beaver Run and Canyon roads.

“We feel under the circumstances, it’s best to disband,” Licking Cemetery Association Chair Henry Porter told Union Township Trustees Monday night. He said association members may reconsider if the township takes control of the church’s deed. Porter said he found an estimate for $8,600 to demolish the church, remove a shed, and remove sidewalks in front of the church. “Possibly we could work together to clean that up and make a really nice cemetery,” he said.

Township Administrator Paula Greene said she believes the Baptist Association held the deed to the old church, which is boarded up and in very poor condition.

“Unless it can be resolved, we want to hand our portion over to you,” said Porter. “We’ll work with you as long as we see some progress.”

“The time has come. We need to figure out a procedure,” said Trustee President Rick Black, adding that the situation should be discussed with the Licking County Prosecutor’s office.

“We have a wonderful opportunity to clean it up,” said Porter. “We have money to work with.”

“We’ve never refused to take the deed to the church,” said Greene Tuesday. She said the American Baptist Churches of Ohio requested its deed back for the property a while ago and the township obliged. Other than that, there’s little else the township can do. “It’s an unfortunate situation,” she said. American Baptist Churches of Ohio representatives have said the organization no longer has responsibility for the structure. “That’s not the township’s fault,” said Greene. “The township can’t take over every abandoned property.”

“This shouldn’t be this difficult,” said Black Tuesday. “We want to see the property looked after. We don’t own it; the cemetery association doesn’t own it. It’s time to sit down and put some heads together, and find a solution.” Black said trustees have no use for the old church and haven’t actively pursued taking it over. He said he knew it was only a matter of time until something would have to be done. “We know something’s going to happen now,” said Black. “We knew it was going to, we just didn’t know when.”

In other township news:

• Greg Cotterman, JBA Architects vice president, said bids have been opened to build a 40’ by 60’ salt bin. Out of a total of eight bids, the lowest was for $87,450 from A&B Construction of Iowa. The highest was Project Construction Company for $125,975. Cotterman said A&B has never worked in Ohio, but is beginning a project in Akron and is willing to travel to Union Township. “I can’t find any reason to throw them out,” he said. Cotterman estimated construction would take roughly 60 days once the contract is signed.

“We want to do some checking on these companies,” said Black Tuesday. The salt bin project has been delayed for months. He said he wants to be sure the company chosen will follow through on the project. Trustees don’t want to hurry a decision just because the project has been delayed, Black said. He predicted a decision will be made at their March 4 meeting.

• Trustees unanimously approved a zoning change for the future site of the Hebron New Life Methodist Church at the corner of Lake Drive and US 40. The change was from M1 to General Business. Pastor Brian Harkness said he hopes to break ground for the new church this year.

• Hebron Fire Chief Randy Weekly mentioned some recent residential break-ins in the township. He said they are occurring during the day and suggested residents leave a television on or otherwise make it appear that someone is home.

Greene said Tuesday that she was aware of the incidents and spoke to the Licking County Sheriff’s Department about them. “They’re county wide,” she said, and not specific to Union Township. Law enforcement is aware of the break ins and is patrolling.

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