CHESTERVILLE — The fate of the proposed Rock’s Edge development near the intersection of I-71 and State Route 95 is in the hands of the Chester Township Trustees. The final vote to approve or reject is set for Tuesday night.
The process has been long and arduous, taking nearly two years and multiple steps.
The land where the proposed development is located is owned by Rockwell and Krista Bonecutter. The Bonecutters are best known for the Bonecutter Plaza at the interchange, which houses the 8 Sisters Bakery, Bonecutter Car Wash, Bonecutter Laundromat, and a Tesla Charging Station.
At a special meeting of the Chester Township Trustees on Jan 29, a presentation was given by Rockwell Bonecutter and Joe Clase, the land planning consultant hired by the Bonecutters to assist with planning the development. Approximately 45 community members were present to hear the presentation.
Bonecutter and his wife Krista have lived here for 20 years. Over the years they purchased the land around their homestead all of which is connected, with the exception of two parcels, from Chesterville to the I-71 interchange.
The proposed development would be located on what was formerly known as Morrow Meadows at the I-71 and SR 95 interchange, which the Bonecutters purchased from Jack Fishburn.
NEED FOR HOUSING
“We are trying to do some development that is forward thinking, still rural, but gives us some of the services and housing that is desperately needed here.” Rockwell said.
“We were approached by a gentleman that wanted to purchase a parcel of land to build a gym. His plan was to have a dietician and a massage therapist. I thought it would be a good thing for the community so I sold it to him.”
Bonecutter’s wife Krista had pointed out the need for a careful, well-thought-out plan for development. They then hired Joe Clase, who is a professional land planner, to plan the development. The idea was to have a consistent look, pedestrian friendly with green spaces, and community places.
Bonecutter wanted input from the community and interviewed about 30 community leaders, including the commissioners, sheriff, school board and residents in the area. They did a survey of what the area is underserved in and over served in. This feedback and information was used to develop the proposed plan to meet those needs.
He would like to see apartments in the developed area for those aged 55 and older. The development, if approved, will consist of affordable apartments, condominiums, various retail and service businesses, green spaces and bike trails.
“For every acre we develop we are going to give about 40 percent back in green space. We are giving back much more green area than an average developer would. Our primary driver isn’t to make a profit but to control the growth in our area because we live here and we think this is the right thing to do,” he said.
The next step was to address zoning. The land is currently zoned industrial and would need to be revised to allow the development as presented.
Current Chester Township zoning does not address a development of this type. In fact, Morrow County Zoning does not have a zoning plan for this type of development in place. The Chester Township Zoning Board had to develop what is known as a PUD or Planned Unit Development.
The Chester Township Zoning Board then hired Tom Burton of the law firm of Renwick, Welsh and Burton in Mansfield to review and revise a P.U.D. for the proposed development. A P.U.D. ensures that a developer can only build what has been agreed to in the manor it has been agreed to by the trustees. The Chester Township Zoning Board approved the zoning changes and proposed PUD to pass on to the Chester Township Trustees for final approval.
Chester Township Trustees scheduled a special meeting on Jan. 29 preceding the regular township meeting to allow for the presentation by Bonecutter and Clase, as well as allow the community to ask questions.
Trustee Lynn Shinaberry asked Sheriff John Hinton if he wanted to address anything. Hinton replied, ”We are looking to the future already with the Sheriff’s Office. In the five or 10 years that it will take for this [development] to happen, my goal is to have four deputies on every shift. I do not see an issue with patrolling the area.”
Morrow County Commissioner Warren Davis added, “We’ve been behind this from almost the start. Rock is right about the need for housing for 55 and over, I’ve pretty much gotten 100 percent support from people I’ve talked to about this. If we can support this in any way, we are in favor of it.”
Morrow County Development Director Andy Ware also spoke in favor of the plan.
”Having a planned development near the interstate makes a lot of sense. We really need housing. Having retail is something we really need as well.”
After the special meeting it was expected that the trustees would vote at the regular township trustee meeting however, during discussion Trustee Anthony Shaffer stated that although he has seen the proposed PUD before, he wanted more time to review it.
Trustee Lynn Shinaberry said that he was not comfortable making the decision at that time. A motion was made by Trustee Anthony Shaffer to table the vote until Feb. 12.