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Trustees to consider four zoning changes April 22

MILLERSPORT – Walnut Township Trustees will hold public hearings on four zoning amendment changes starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 22 at the township office.

The first hearing is on an unanimous recommendation from the township zoning commission that all township lots around the lake – North Bank and West Bank – be rezoned from R1-LF to R2- LF. The change was proposed to make zoning consistent with what is already around the lake. R-1LF is single family dwelling while many lake front homes includes apartments. The FairfieldCounty Regional Planning Commission recommended approval.

The second hearing is advertised to begin at 5:30 p.m. The proposed zoning amendment would remove the word “compounding” from permitted uses in a I-1 Light Industrial District. The zoning commission hearing minutes state that the word is being deleted because “it may be misconstrued with a landfill”and that sanitary landfillsare being removed from the list of conditional uses in a I- 2 General Industrial District. The minutes state that sanitary landfills are being removed because it “does not fitwith its Land Use Plan.” Construction and demolition debris landfillsare NOT considered sanitary landfills,so the deletion would not affect a possible C&DD landfill on the Jerry Mock property west of Ohio 37. The regional planning commission recommendation noted that the model township zoning code does include the work “compounding,” but adds that isn’t required in the definition of “manufacturing.” The recommendation on the removal of “sanitary landfills”was technical. The township zoning commission recommended all three changes unanimously.

The third hearing is advertised for 5:45 p.m. This amendment would rezone an approximately 66 acre site, owned by Jerry Mock west of Ohio 37, from I-1 to I-2. Currently, his son operates a stone yard, recycling business and roll-off container business there. According to the minutes of the zoning commission’s March 4 public hearing, zoning inspector Ralph Reeb said the rezone is being proposed “to correct the mistake the township made in the first place.” The minutes state, “The township knew from the start what type of business it was going to be.”

Walnut Township, apparently discovered after the fact, that the current activities require I-2 zoning since they are not conducted inside a building as I-1 requires. Mock doesn’t concede that point, but agrees that the proposed uses for one out-lot sale in contract and two other prospective sales all require I-2 zoning.

Regional planning recommended approval noting that “it does not seem unreasonable for the Township to want the proper zoning classificationfor an existing business.” Staff also recommended “that the applicant work with the neighboring communities to alleviate concerns regarding the construction/demolition debris facility issue.”

The Mocks and Walnut Township zoning officials insist that the zoning change won’t have any effect on whether a C&DD landfill can be located on the site. Neighbors aren’t so sure. Rusty Mock told The Beacon on April 4 that the site is being evaluated for a C&DD landfill.

The township zoning commission delayed its decision one month to received the required regional planning commission recommendation. Commission members quickly voted 3-0, with acting chair Mike Wolfe recusing himself, to recommend the change to trustees. There was no opportunity for public comment. Neighbors were able to make a few comments after both zoning decisions were made.

“How many mistakes do you get to make?” Mock neighbor Irene DiPaulo asked. “How many have you made?” Reeb responded.

“This is not a done deal on this landfill,”zoning commission member Tim Morris said. “We’re all speculating what they are going to do.”

“I can accept the farm dirt,” neighbor Greg Groves said. “But not dirt being brought in.”

“You lay out your first piece of I-2 zoning knowing you have a mess,” Ron DiPaulo added. He was referring to comments at previous zoning commission meetings about “gaping holes” in their rules.

Commission members, with Morris recusing himself, also voted unanimously to recommend rezoning approximately 289 acres owned by Licking-FairfieldCorporation from Rural Residential to I-2. Ed Parrish, sole owner of Licking-Fairfield,said he was solicited by Walnut Township Trustees for industrial zoning on this site several years ago and now a couple of months ago. The tract is on both sides of Millersport Road with frontage both on Ohio 79 and Ohio 37. Parrish’s residence is on the tract. The hearing on this application begins at 6:15 p.m.

“I have given into allowing the township decide on its own,” Parrish told the regional planning commission March 31.

The regional planning commission recommended that the rezoning be rejected. “The future land use plan does not recommend business/commercial land uses in this area,” staff wrote.

Ohio law requires an unanimous decision by trustees to reject or even amend the zoning commission’s recommendation. Trustees could make their decisions following the public hearings April 22 or take up to 20 days to make their decision.

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