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Writer says simple rezoning request turned into circus


Recently, a Liberty Township resident owning two pieces of land asked the Liberty Township Zoning Board to rezone an irregular sliver of land (which is zoned R-1), that crosses the front of their driveway into one piece of property. The rest of their property is zoned R-R. Fairfield County Regional Planning approved this action that would simply make one parcel zoned the same. The following results of this true narrative could become the center stage in a three-ring circus!

Liberty Township’s Zoning Board heard this innocuous request. The vote result was: two yes, one no (due to a septic concern which has nothing to do with zoning!) but had been approved by Fairfield County Health Board. Two board members abstained (reasoning is blurred here but an abstention is not a vote). This rezoning request was very simple and you would think that it would have been a slam-dunk. That didn’t happen…. it was denied. Had Parliamentary Procedure been used it would have passed, but, alas, this zoning board which was formed many, many years ago, has no by-laws!

This inoffensive voting issue then went to the Fairfield County Prosecutor for a pass-fail request! There the decision was made to follow the quasi-judicial Zoning Board of Appeals By-laws, which did not approve the vote and a positive outcome was denied! Finally, their decision sent the issue to the Liberty Township Trustees. Trustees Linkhorn, Montell and Ety provided their votes, which is recorded as two yes and one no. Sounds like an approval? Nope, that didn’t happen! The trustee vote had to be unanimous for a positive outcome. We are talking about a simple zoning change. Can you imagine how long it would take for a complicated rezoning?

The complex way in which an innocent rezoning of two small pieces of land, one very irregular added to the other (thus making this land a uniform piece of property) remains in limbo. Fairfield Regional Planning voted unanimously in favor of this rezoning, but the arrogant understanding of our zoning board and one trustee has made a straightforward uncomplicated rezoning “the center ring circus of Liberty Township”. I’m still scratching my head over this.

Land is unique; each piece must be decided on its own merit… not on how long you have lived in the township or if you are “liked”. Even the Ohio General Assembly has passed legislation reducing the number of votes required for the Board of Trustees to modify or reject a recommendation of the zoning commission to a simple majority. I can only imagine how much time and how much of the township’s money has been wasted on this one rezoning request.

The moral of this story, aka, three ring circus performance, is to have (elected) trustees and (appointed) commissions of integrity, who understand the importance of impartial and fair votes. I am certainly disappointed in the way this was handled.
Dale Jones
Liberty Township

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