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Union Township opposes revised subdivision rules

By Scott Rawdon

HEBRON- No ifs, ands, or buts, the Union Township Trustees oppose Licking County’s proposed new subdivision regulations. They believe that several elements within the proposal – including required roundabouts and buffer zones – may become maintenance nightmares for the township if it inherits the subdivisions.

“The whole thing reeks of (Licking County Planning Commission Director Jerry Brems) needing more control,” said Trustee Jack Justice, bluntly. “Several things need to be taken back to the drawing board. There’s been very little thought put into this whole stinking thing.”

The trustees’ main objection is the requirement of roundabouts, with center grassy areas, in place of solidly paved culdesacs capping dead end subdivision streets. “There’s really no easy way around it. They’re absolute nightmares to plow,” said Justice. The plows can only push snow around the outside of the circle, which piles up snow along the adjoining driveway entrances.

“It’s impossible to have universal drainage,” said Justice. “Water will pool somewhere on that circle.”

If a fire truck parks on the circle in the event of an emergency, he said, the circle is effectively blocked from more emergency vehicles. “All they’re doing is creating a dam for traffic flow,” said Justice.

There’s also concern for who will mow the grass within a roundabout, he said. Without an “iron-clad” homeowners association for the subdivision, the township could become saddled with the responsibility.

Currently, there are two roundabouts in Union Township. “That’s two too many,” said Justice.

“We can reshape those babies if we don’t like them,” said Trustee Jessie Ours.

The trustees sent a statement takes over maintenance of the subdivision? In such a case, is it fair for those who receive no benefit from the buffer to share in its cost?

+ It was mentioned, said Justice, that a lack of retention pond maintenance by owners or homeowners associations is causing flooding. Where are the assurances, he asked, that these problems are being addressed?

+ The proposal states that the costs and maintenance of street and walkway lighting in high density developments will be determined by the trustees. Justice said the trustees can only enforce the Ohio Revised Code and do not have the ability to assess costs to residents.

+ Justice said common shared access points are unfavorable anywhere in Union Township. Obviously, he said, county planning shares the same opinion because at least three pages of the proposed new regulations are written to “circumvent” the inherent problems with such a plan.

Tuesday, Brems said that absolutely nothing changes in the administration of the regulations and by no means is he solely responsible for the proposed changes. The proposed changes were drafted by a committee of 15 to 20 people represented by many walks of life–“anybody with an interest” in subdivision regulations, not the planning commission staff, he said.

Brems added that the township would never be required to take over the proposed 40 foot buffer zone and all retention ponds are maintained by the county.

U n d e r t h e p r o p o s e d regulations, Brems said that township trustees have the authority to pay the electric bill for street and walkway lighting in high density residential areas. If they don’t want to be responsible for paying, he said, they are not required to be.

Brems said that shared access points are never preferred, but can be accommodated in extreme instances of limited visibility or road frontage. “Nothing’s changed over what’s been in place for the last ten years,” he said.

Monday night, April 23, 7 p.m. at the Licking County Administration Building in Newark, the trustees will discuss the new regs with the Licking County Planning Commission.

In other Union Township news:

+ The trustees approved the purchase of an emergency squad for approximately $136,000. Trustee John Slater estimated the squad will be delivered in about three months. Also, the trustees will advertise the bid specifications to refurbish Fire Truck #2. They estimate the refurbishment will cost $85,356.

+ The trustees decided to reestablish the practice of
driving all the roads in the township to determine which roads are most in need
of repair. They estimate it will take about four hours of driving to cover all
Union Township roads.

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