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Change to manufacturing zoning approved

HEBRON – The Union Township Trustees, in a special meeting Monday night, approved a zoning change for a 24-acre property at 2300 National Road, east of National Trail Raceway, from General Business to Light Manufacturing, or M-1. Rockbridge Development, Inc. President Paul Bolster and business partner Mark Girard plan to build several 30,000 to 50,000 square feet single story warehouses on the property. The warehouses are intended for the distribution of products, not manufacturing. There may be two story officespace on the property as well, but buildings’ heights are very limited because of the property’s proximity to the Buckeye Executive Airport.

Trustees Jack Justice and Jessie Ours voted in favor of the zoning; trustee President John Slater abstained from vote since he lives near the property. The Union Township Zoning Board previously approved the zoning change, and the Licking County Planning Commission recommended its approval.

Justice explained during the special meeting that the trustees favor the zoning change because it gives the township more control over the property’s development.

According to an LCPC report, General Business zoning supports retail and public structures like schools and churches, while M-1 zoning allows for light manufacturing and wholesale businesses.

Monday night, adjacent property owner David Reinhart asked the trustees what their plans are for establishing an industrial district in Union Township.

“We’re not after that much manufacturing,” said Ours, adding that he wasn’t interested in expanding the M-1 zoning beyond the 24-acre parcel’s borders.

Slater said the zoning change is in accordance with the township’s Comprehensive Plan because the area was already slated for business. The M-1 zoning, he said, gives the township better control over what’s built.

Justice said the warehouse facilities would be built purely on speculation and there are no confirmed tenants yet. Girard said after the meeting that he and Bolster are very early in the process and are just trying to get the zoning in place before they start vying for tenants.

Justice assured there will be more business growth in Union Township than just the Rockbridge Development project. “I guarantee it,” he said, although he doubted the growth will happen “overnight.”

According to the minutes from a June 28 Union Township Zoning Board meeting where the zoning change was approved, adjacent property owner Kathy Reinhart asked of the M-1 change would be “spot zoning,” or zoning applied to a specific property without consideration of those surrounding it. Zoning board Chairman Steve Rees said there are areas of M-1 zoning along US 40 and areas to the south. He said the 2300 National Road property is marked for businesses in the township’s Comprehensive Plan.

Adjoining property owner Jim Carter disagreed, saying that if just the 2300 parcel received M-1, then it was spot zoning. Rees said that wasn’t necessarily true because there is already M-1 zoning in the area. David Reinhart said that according to the LCPC, if the township doesn’t intend to create a manufacturing district, the change to M-1 would be spot zoning. Rees said the area is already slated for business and he said according to the LCPC, the M-1 would be an extension of existing zoning. The zoning board unanimously approved the change.

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