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Walnut Township Trustees approve more industrial zoning

MILLERSPORT – Walnut Township Trustees unanimously agreed to rezone a 34.26 acre tract west of Ohio 37 from RR (rural residential) to I-1 (light industrial) after a brief public hearing Tuesday evening.

Travis Wolfe, who operates a pole barn construction business, plans to build a 80 x 152 building on the site to store building materials and perform some fabrication work. His project includes a 100 x 100 parking lot and a drive to Canal Road.

The Fairfield County Regional Planning Commission recommended that trustees turn down the application. Walnut Township Zoning Inspector Ralph Reeb said, “RPC’s (regional planning commission) biggest concern was traffic coming from Canal Road onto 37.” The Commission also considers this land as highly productive farm land.

However, Fairfield County Development Director William Arnett said the site falls into the 37 Business Corridor.

The township zoning commission held two hearings on the application, ultimately unanimously approving the change on Sept. 4.

The primary objections came from the owners of five residences along the west side of Ohio 37, just south of Canal Road, that will now have an industrial facility behind their homes rather than agricultural fields. Sam Weaver said the new building will be right behind his house. He asked at the commission hearings that the building be moved further back on the lot. Wolfe agreed to move it back 50 feet, but Weaver noted Tuesday night that his home will be as close to Wolfe’s building as the homes on the west side of Ohio 204 are to the Millersport Elementary School.

Wolfe told trustees that he will build an eight foot wide, two foot high berm and plant it with white pine trees behind Weaver’s and his neighbor’s house.

Everyone acknowledges that the area has water problems. Weaver says water currently runs east through the residential areas to Ohio 37 and north to Canal Road. Since Wolfe’s building will be on the property’s high spot, he is concerned about the loss of infiltration area due to the building, parking lot and driveway. The proposed buffer will just direct the water around to the side of his house.

Larry Neeley, who represents the township on the regional planning commission, expressed concerns about the Canal Road and Ohio 37 intersection. It is not a square intersection and it is difficult to see oncoming traffic. He said a wider turn is necessary to make it easier for trucks to turn right onto Ohio 37.

“This is probably a win project for the community,” Robert Slater told trustees. “The man has a plan about what he wants to do,” Robert Slater II added. “I think he has addressed screening. I don’t think he needs to address an intersection not on his property.”

Trustees had up to 20 days following the hearing to make their decision.

“I think everything has been answered,” Trustee Sonny Dupler said.

Weaver asked that they take in consideration the five homes that will now abut industrial property. “I propose that it be moved further away.”

Trustee Wally Gabriel asked Reeb why it had to be I-1, rather than a more restrictive B (business zone). I-1, Reeb said, is required to store building materials. Reeb believes Wolfe’s use will fit into the township’s new B zone when current revisions to the zoning resolution are completed. He said it will then automatically revert to a B zone.

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