BUCKEYE LAKE – Monday night, the Buckeye Lake Village Council unanimously approved a variance to allow the village board of zoning appeals to consider approving a freestanding garage for construction on a separate lot from the owner’s residence as long as it conforms to some specific requirements under the BZA’s discretion.
BZA members may only consider granting a variance under the following conditions:
• The lots cannot be combined due to street, alley, or easement impediment.
• The garage lot must be permanently identified with the deed restriction to the residential lot. Release of the deed restriction can be considered by variance with appropriate residential conformity.
• The garage must be consistent in design and size with the residence. While the size must be proportionate to the residence, the maximum garage size permitted is a three-car capacity.
• The building must conform to all existing setbacks.
• The garage and residence must be rented or leased together to the same user. The primary user of the garage must be the occupant of the residence identified by deed or lease.
However, the ordinance itself may be a work in progress as council member Barry Herron said he doesn’t believe the ordinance goes far enough to ensure freestanding garages are constructed at a reasonable size. “We need to go further with what this does,” he said. “It doesn’t stop people from building a four-story garage.”
Buckeye Lake Planning Commission Chair Karen Cookston told council members previously that in order to ensure the unique ordinance isn’t ever challenged in court, she suggested it receive three public readings and not be passed as an emergency measure, because the full three readings would make the variance harder to overturn legally.
In other council news:
• Water supervisor Toby Miller said the village is waiting on an Ohio EPA permit before installing a mixer in the village water tower.
“Is that coming by Pony Express or what?” asked council member Peggy Wells.
Miller said the village cannot do anything with the tower until the EPA permit is issued.
“We started this last year, right?” Wells asked.
“Oh, yeah,” Miller said in frustration.
• Mayor Clay Carroll said village residents will vote in the Hebron New Life United Methodist Church near the Hebron Municipal Complex on Tuesday, Nov. 3. He said volunteers would provide rides to the polling place for those without transportation. Carroll said anyone wanting a ride to vote should contact the village office.
• There was a second reading of an ordinance to raise Buckeye Lake Village water rates based upon proposed rate changes in the Village of Millersport, whose water treatment facility provides bulk water to the Buckeye Lake water distribution system. Simply put, when Millersport raises its water rates, Buckeye Lake’s rates rise accordingly.
However, Millersport Mayor’s Assistant Vince Popo said the Millersport Village Council has only had one reading of its ordinance to raise water rates, and it’s uncertain at this point if there will be any more readings. He said there is some opposition on the Millersport council to raising water rates right now.
There is opposition on the Buckeye Lake council as well. “I have a hard time passing any (fee increases) at this time,” said council member Kitty Zwissler.
• Council members approved paying $25 per month to the Licking County Humane Society for its services. “It’s a good service at a good price,” Herron said.
• Carroll acknowledged the changes made to the North Shore Boar Ramp and the Lieb’s Island boat ramp as a contractor constructs the staging areas to construct a 30+ foot wide stability berm in front of the Buckeye Lake dam. This is the first phase of replacing the entire 4.1-mile earthen dam. “They’re putting together an aggressive work schedule,” he said.
ODNR officials claim completion of the berm in June may allow the lake level to come up two feet in June if their dam safety engineers are satisfied with its performance. Completion in June will require two 10-hour shifts, six days a week throughout the winter. Even a short 2016 boating season will also depend on a very unseasonably wet summer as the lake will probably need three additional feet of water to reach one foot below summer pool.
“They’re making pretty good headway,” said council president Jeryne Peterson. “We’re getting to see something here that is history. “It’s costing a lot of people hardship and heartache,” but rebuilding the dam is a historic event, nonetheless.
Zwissler showed support for the people building the berm. “I’m absolutely convinced these people are intent on doing a good job,” she said. Zwissler said residents should be supportive of the workers coming into the lake area, despite people’s objections with the way in which the ODNR has handled the dam replacement. “We have to be positive toward (the workers),” she said. “There are lots of workers coming into the community.”