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Tie-vote doesn’t stop rezoning

UNION TOWNSHIP – A tie vote Nov. 6 did not derail a rezoning request in Union Township.

Trustee President Rick Black and Trustee Charles Prince voted for and against the rezoning respectively, which Trustee John Slater’s family requested.

Earlier Licking County Assistant Prosecutor Austin Lecklider had advised that a tie vote would deny the proposed amendment. After the vote and further review, he determined that a majority vote of the trustees is required to deny a recommendation of the township zoning commission which had previously unanimously approved the change.

Slater and his wife, Penny, and township fiscal officer Jessica Slater and her husband, Mark, asked to rezone 3.602 acres at 460 National Road from Agricultural to Rural Residential 3 zoning.

The Slaters want to split off the home and some accessory buildings onto a separate parcel without giving up some of the existing farmland. A 2006 zoning amendment sets a 10-acre minimum for Agricultural District lots so the Slaters sought to rezone the property to RR3, which has a three-acre minimum.

Township administrator Paula Greene said the Slaters asked for the lot split so Mark and Jessica Slater can have sole ownership of the home and buildings. Prince said previously he is sympathetic to their request because he believes the 10-acre minimum is too high, but is uncomfortable solving the problem for the Slaters and not for the rest of the township.

“I support this,” Black said. “For the record I do support this. I think it’s a prudent move on their part for their business and for their personal lives. I supported it in the beginning.” He said the request meets all the zoning requirements in our current code and made motion to proceed with the zoning change.

“I’ll second the motion simply on the statutory obligation to make a decision,” Prince said.

“I have a statement that I would like to make,” Prince said. “I raised my concerns publicly and honestly over two and a half weeks ago. I stated what they were.

“I’m sympathetic to what (the Slaters) are trying to do. And I also outlined what I was looking for to resolve my concerns and that was a commitment that my colleagues would help address this for everyone in the township next year, and I heard nothing.

“I spent some time and effort to come up with a solution that addressed my concerns. I presented it straightforwardly and in writing (previously); it was rejected.

“Suddenly we found a new concern that every procedure, proposal, must be double-checked, run by the prosecutor’s office. My resolution is clearly authorized by the statute and it is very simple to read, plus it does not commit – doesn’t change anything. All it does is send the issue to the zoning commission where it goes through the same procedure as any other proposed zoning amendment. Meaning, it goes to the Licking County Planning Commission and then it comes back to this body. At each stage there are public hearings. That was rejected.

“I cannot vote to grant one family, particularly one of us, a zoning change when my colleagues are unwilling to commit to address this issue for everyone else in the township that is similarly affected, and there are others.

“I’m sorry if this delays any actions but my opinion and concerns have been out there for two and a half weeks and I’m the only one who has attempted to resolve them.”

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