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Township to get $3 million estate tax windfall

JACKSONTOWN – Licking Township Fiscal Officer Jill Linn had quite a surprise for trustees Tuesday night.

When President Joe Hart asked if she had any correspondence to the board, Linn said the county auditor’s office notified her to expect a $3,034.434.36 estate tax payment for the township’s general revenue fund. Linn told trustees that she had been instructed to have them amend this year’s certificate of revenue to $4,800,835.25 to reflect the windfall. The amendment was approved unanimously.

The identity of the estate is confidential. The single tax payment represents about three times the township’s annual expenditures. Linn did add that she had been cautioned not to spend any of the anticipated payment until it is actually received.

In other business Tuesday night, no residents commented during a public hearing on the township zoning commission initiated changes to Article 12 of the township zoning resolution. That article focuses on commercial districts. The Licking County Planning Commission had earlier reviewed the proposed changes and had recommended that trustees reject them.

Hart acknowledged that the zoning commission had made some of the changes recommended by the county planning commission but said he still had some “major heartburn.” Specifically, he was concerned about new language limiting businesses to just “arterial thoroughfares.” His concern grew when he learned that the county designates them and Avondale Road doesn’t met the criteria.

The new language sets a 50 foot minimum setback for business properties which means most of Jacksontown – which is currently zoned commercial – would become non-conforming. The planning commission’s recommendation letter to trustees noted that the amendment would “create a multitude of non-conforming lots” that could overwhelm the township board of zoning appeals.

Hart said he wanted to see “in writing” some protection for existing businesses. There is no “grandfather” language.

“I think there are too many items in here that are going to give us issues if we pass it this way,” Hart concluded. He was also concerned that the documents made available for public inspection before the hearing were not accurately described. What was listed as the original language is not what is in the current zoning resolution, Hart explained. “Original” here means the 400-some page complete zoning rewrite that trustees rejected five to six years ago.

His motion to reject the changes, sending the entire package back to the zoning commission was unanimously approved.

Trustees also held the first of two public input sessions on the issue of seeking a single contractor to pick up residential waste in the township. Harbor Hills, by virtue of its own contract with a single waste hauler, has already opted out if the township decides to take that step.

Public comment was about evenly split on the issue. Opponents focused their comments on retaining “free choice,” not fixing something not broken, and not letting government take more control over our lives.

Daniel Shackelford, co-owner of independent CMI Waste, said he favors competition but has found his firm can’t compete when townships require large bid bonds to compete for their contract. He told trustees that his company is offering weekly service at $15.45 per month in every neighborhood it serves. “I would like to be able to put my hat in the ring,” Shackleford told trustees. “We don’t play games.”

Earlier residents had said Waste Management’s rates range from about $15 a month to nearly $30 a month, depending on how good you are at negotiating.

Former trustee John Holman summed up the benefits of a single contractor – $100-150 savings per year for households, less noise, less air pollution, less wear and tear on roads and a recycling option. Trustees are expected to hold their second public input session on the issue in August.

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