Regional Planning denies variances citing road frontage issues

By Donna Carver - [email protected]

Two variance requests were presented to the Morrow County Regional Planning Commission at the August meeting.

The Planning Commission Variance Review Committee submitted their recommendation to the full commission to not approve the variances, “as it would create a non-conforming lot that was greatly outside of the requirements and a hardship that prevented this lot from conforming was not adequately shown.”

Bryce Volk explained that they would like to do a lot split to build a 3000 sq. ft. home on family owned property which currently contains two homes. One side is his parent’s property the other is his grandparent’s property. He explained that the lot is wooded behind the property and they can not build farther back. They are also unable to go farther left or right as it would obscure the driveways for the other two properties. The variance they submitted was “our best option,” Volk said.

The Volk property located on Twp. Rd. 67 in Canaan Twp. variance was for a .191 acre variance for minimum lot size and a variance for the two remaining lots road frontage requirement of 200 ft. be reduced to 123 ft. on one lot and 1 10 ft. on the second lot.

“Under strict interpretation of the rule I don’t see where we can recommend approving this,” explained Chairman Len Robinson. “We only make a recommendation – we do not make the final decision, zoning does that.”

“What it is going to come down to is we will build in another county. We would be happy to give our tax dollars to Morrow County but if it’s not going to happen, then so be it,” said Bryce Volk.

“We have done everything that was asked of us, and if the regulations can’t be changed, we understand,” added Ashley Volk. “But we have asked every step of the way what can we do and we will do it, and everything that was asked of us we met. All we are asking is if it can’t be done this way how can we do it?”

“If they divide it differently with 200 feet of frontage of lot for each lot then it will be compliant,” answered one member.

The request was tabled by the commission as they did not have a quorum and a vote would have had to be unanimous. The commission made a recommendation to make the lot be complaint.

“If it can have 200 feet of road frontage per lot, then it will meet the requirement,” Dave Gentile stated.

“I guess we could have done that and saved the $225 in variance fees,” replied Volk.

The second variance submitted from Keith Linnabary, trustee for the Linnabary family trust, concerned property located on County Rd. 124 in Harmony and Franklin Townships. The variance is for road frontage requirements of 200 ft. to be reduced to 30ft. and a depth to width ratio of 3:1 to 13:1.

In the variance request submitted by Linnabary, it was explained that in 2009, The Linnabary Family Trust purchased two properties: thirty acres in Harmony Township and sixty-seven acres in Franklin Township. These properties were divided by the Greenville Treaty Line which also divided the homestead lane. This homestead, including the lane, was established before 1840, when the present day house was built. This homestead has remained the same over the years. This homestead is adjacent to another farm land which the trust has owned since 1973. This farm has a similar lane homestead exclusion. The trustees have never sold off any road frontage nor invested in any housing development in their forty-three years of farming in Morrow County. It is their intent to have productive farmland to support them in their retirement. The trustees have a buyer who would like to buy the homestead as surveyed. The Regulations of width to depth ratio is causing an undue hardship. The trustees are requesting a variance so this sale can be completed.

Gentile reiterated to make the lot conforming, it would need 200 feet of road frontage.

Keith Linnabary shared that that he has been a resident of Morrow County since 1972 and is interested in keeping farm land as farm land and making improvements to farms as we have then.

“We do not desire to sell off the farmland,” he said. “I am community-minded. I believe this is a win, win, win situation. It is a win for us, a win for our buyer and a win for the community, keeping the home as an owner-occupied residence. The buyer does not wish for any additional land and we do not wish to sell any additional land, as it would interfere with tillable land and crop production. The 30 feet has always been the entrance and exit of this farm and has been that way for 175 years – it is not a new development.”

“So you are developing the land to suit the buyer?” asked Robinson.

“He doesn’t want to buy more land and I don’t want to sell it,” answered Linnabary.

Bob Thomas expressed his concerns.

“I believe your heart is in the right place, but what we look at is… if we grant this variance, what will happen if we grant it for you and then the big land company comes in and expect the same thing? That is how we have to look at it. Maybe you can make the lot compliant and then have a lease back on the farm land.”

“I don’t want to have to play games,” replied Linnabary. “I think any lane that is this old should be approved. This isn’t a new development.”

“It is a new development here because you are splitting off part of the homestead and selling it to someone,” replied Robinson. “That is considered a development. And further, you are doing it with a noncompliant lot when you have the ability to make it compliant. You are shaping this lot to suit the buyer. That is an economic driver for this variance. You have a way to split this lot to make it complaint.”

Gentile explained that if they made the lot complaint, then it would not have to come back to the commission as a variance. It would go through his office administrative review.

“So it will cost me another survey?” asked Linnabary

“Yes, and a review fee through our office,” replied Gentile.

Linnabary asked for a vote from the commission.

The commission unanimously voted to deny the variance.

In other business:

There are two open positions on Regional Planning; one is an at-large member the other is a representative for commerce as Darlene McElroy has resigned her seat. If anyone wishes to apply please let the commissioners know or contact Dave Gentile at the planning office.

The next Regional Planning Commission meeting will be Wednesday September 23 at 7:00 pm. at the Community Services Bldg. Conference Room, Entrance B at 619 West Marion Rd., Mt Gilead.

Reach Donna Carver at 419-946-3010, ext. 1804 or on Twitter @MorrCoSentinel.

By Donna Carver

[email protected]