Washington Township to vote on repeal of zoning

By Alberta Stojkovic - The Sentinel

MOUNT GILEAD — Morrow County Commissioners approved the request of Washington Township Trustees to put on the May 8 ballot a resolution for the repeal of county-wide zoning in that township.

County-wide zoning was passed in Washington Township and six other townships in 2003 in response to the possibility of landfills coming into the county. Six other townships and seven villages in Morrow County have their own zoning.

Eight percent of registered voters in the township signed a petition to put the question of repealing zoning on the ballot. Then the resolution to repeal zoning in Washington Township needed the commissioners’ approval to be on the ballot.

The specific question on the ballot will read: “Should Washington Township’s participation in County Wide Zoning be ended?”

Before the vote to approve was made, all three commissioners stated that the resolution to repeal goes against progress for Morrow County. They also said that they believe, since we live in a democracy, that the people have the right to have the issue put before them for a vote.

In the final vote, only Burgess Castle voted against putting the question on the ballot.

“I always said I will do what I believe in my heart is best for the county,” said Castle before he voted ‘no.’ Both Tom Whiston and Warren Davis voted for the resolution.

The commissioners deferred to former Washington Township trustee Bill Creswell for the reason the repeal of zoning was started.

“First of all, I am not personally opposed to zoning. This has been a three-year battle to get zoning issues resolved,” Creswell said.

Creswell cited several examples of eyesores in Iberia and Washington Township that have not had any follow-up when complaints were filed with the zoning board. Trustees have taken issues to the commissioners, sheriff and the prosecutor and not had any action taken.

But there have also been cases for the township when seemingly legitimate requests for building permits have been denied.

This past summer Creswell said it came to a head when Smitty’s tire business in Iberia was sold to a person from Cleveland who requested a permit for a new building to expand the business. The permit was denied because the zoning board said there was not enough set-back from the road.

Questions about the property still are not resolved. Creswell said this is a business that has the potential to employ six or seven people from the area.

The newest Washington township trustee, Robert Kochman, said trustees have taken issues to every official in the county and “still nothing is done.”

“We want to get rid of zoning because it’s not helping with problems,” Kochman said.

Creswell said the trustees brought this resolution to the commissioners last summer and hoped things would be resolved without going to the public. Creswell said his main goal is to see problems with zoning get resolved.

By Alberta Stojkovic

The Sentinel