Clark County commissioners rezoned Wednesday nearly 90-acres of property in Bethel Twp. from agricultural to residential and industrial districts despite safety and other concerns raised by township trustees, county planners and engineers.
In a 2-1 vote, Commissioners John Detrick and Rick Lohnes approved a petition filed by Arthur D. Paradise to rezone about 26 acres on the south side of Dille Road to a single family district with large lots, about 27 acres to residential and about 34 acres to industrial for high tech businesses in the Tecumseh Local Schools district.
Lohnes said he supported the project because the county needs new residential development and zoning and subdivision codes will act as safeguards to address concerns raised about the project.
“I trust our existing rules and regulations in community development and our engineer in the way they monitor what kind of things can and can’t be built. Just because because it’s zoned doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of hoops to jump through. But if you don’t get it zoned, you’ll never see what they’re planning,” Lohnes said.
Bethel Twp. Trustee Nancy Brown and Tecumseh Local Schools Assistant Superintendent Paula Crew worry the project will increase traffic and accidents along Ohio 235 and Dille Road where they say bus drivers struggle to safely transport elementary students to and from school.
Detrick said he backed the project because it will increase economic development.
He said he’s confident problems with the road and concerns about potential flooding will be addressed as developers will be required to conduct traffic studies along the road before construction begins.
“I’m very optimistic because this will lower the tax base for all the houses that are out there now. It’s a step in progress because that’s the area in Clark County that is the most prone for growth. That and Mad River,” Detrick said.
David Herier was the lone dissenting vote. The proposal needed to be revised prior to getting approval from commissioners, he said, because the project was not supported by township trustees.
“The elected officials from the immediate area all agreed that there needed to be work done on this plan … I think their opinions are important since I represent the people in the immediate area and felt at least a little more detail needed to be put into the plan prior to approving it,” Herier said.
Crew said she’s not against development in the area, but wanted to advise officials of the 400 kindergartners and first graders who attend school across the street from the project.
“Traffic is a concern right now,” Crew said. “We’ve been trying to get a light installed at Dille and 235 — the township has — with ODOT with no success. Right now it’s already a traffic issue. More housing and more industry will definitely add to the issues we already have.”
She’s hopeful a traffic feasibility studies done by developers will address issues along the road and ensure problems don’t worsen.
Joe Roller of HRI Commercial Realty said he’s pleased commissioners approved the rezoning petition. He said he empathizes with residents and added that developers would not bring a project to the area that would negatively effect the community.
“We aren’t at cross purposes. What works well for the city also works well for us. If we bring in something that doesn’t work well for the city it’s like fouling our own home,” Roller said. “… We can’t afford to bring in a bad neighbor because we’ve got a lot of land to sell so the first one in has to be a good neighbor for the land we have yet to sell.”
It’s unknown what business or businesses will move into the industrial district, Roller said, but he does have plans for the property rezoned residential.
“Business has been so slow for a long time we don’t know who’s going to come in. We would be happy for it to be one major user or two, but it could be a dozen smaller users,” he said.
Zoning code and subdivision regulations will act as safeguards for the community, Roller said, and ensure that development doesn’t adversely affect the Dille Road neighborhood and business officials continue to work with community leaders.
He said developers will work with ODOT related to concerns about Ohio 235 and with the Clark County engineer on concerns about Dille Road.
“There are safeguards that we have to comply with that won’t be easy,” Roller said. “… At every step there’s a little bit of a worry.”
In documents obtained by the Springfield News-Sun, Clark County Engineer Johnathan Burr said he had concerns about both the industrial and residential rezoning projects because they are adjacent or about one-fourth of a mile north of Park Layne Elementary School.
Burr also expressed concerns about drainage and storm water.
“Based upon the limited information available and site topography, it isn’t clear if an adequate outlet or receiving channel is available on site or reasonably accessible nearby to discharge the outflow from a developed site with detention facilities,” Burr said.
Clark County Community Development Senior Planner Allen Neimayer also expressed concerns about storm water and increased traffic.
The traffic studies will determine the changes needed along Ohio 235 and Dille, Neimayer said, but he’d like to see a connection from Cliffside into one of the rezoned residential properties on the south side of Dille Road.
“You can’t force all this traffic from Park Layne and Crystal Lake and coming into Dille into 235 now. This will provide other means or different traffic flows for people to use,” Neimayer said.