TRUSTEES … Two of the Gorham Township Trustees and Jacob Barnes (far right) speak to members of the public who came out to hear their plan of zoning for the township. (PHOTO BY JACOB KESSLER / THE VILLAGE REPORTER
By: Jacob Kessler
Gorham Township Trustees held a public meeting at the Fayette Public School on Tuesday, April 25th. The meeting began at 6:04 p.m. and revolved around the idea of zoning the township.
Jacob Barnes began the meeting for the trustees in order to speak about what zoning is and what it would mean for the township.
Mr. Barnes is currently the Planning Director for Springfield Township and is responsible for planning, zoning, and economic development in the township.
He has also helped numerous localities both become zoned and rework their current zoning legislation.
He started off by saying everyone may have heard the term zoning before, and that it may have been in either a negative or positive connotation.
“When you talk about zoning, it can strike up a lot of emotions,” stated Mr. Barnes. He also explained that around 90%-95% of the township is more agriculture in nature and that it would remain that way after the zoning process.
“Zoning wouldn’t change that,” stated Mr. Barnes, while also adding “Ohio is an agricultural state.”
Some reasons for looking at zoning the township were then discussed and included medical and recreational marijuana and making sure future projects are what is best for the township.
“Medical marijuana is here, and recreational use is only a few years down the pipeline. If you remain un-zoned, you have no zone set aside if a dispensary wants to come in.”
“The township is wide open and available to them if its un-zoned. You may not want it or may want it somewhere specific, but you won’t have a say,” explained Mr. Barnes.
Projects like the new solar field were also discussed. It was stated that more control would be given over where future construction projects could go in the township, and that no one is going to want a solar field or truck stop going right up to their property line.
Mr. Barnes then explained that, if those in the township wish to be zoned, the zoning that would take place would be simple and very basic.
If the township is zoned, two need boards would be made which would comprise of five individuals each who volunteer to work with zoning in the Township.
These boards would be a Zoning Commission board and a Zoning Board of Appeals. These two boards and ten individuals would have the most say when it comes to zoning and what happens with it in the township.
It seemed as though members of the public who came to the meeting were fairly split over the idea.
Several people who spoke, spoke against the initiative with the rest asking questions and some also speaking in favor of it.
Many people took issue with some of the following things. Giving up control of what they can and cannot do on their property, giving control to just three people (the trustees) and the zoning boards, the village being able to vote on the ballot initiative for zoning, and the fact that they are not able to see how the Township will be zoned before they vote on it.
Barnes explained that, in many cases, there would be no changes made that the residents in the township would see.
He explained that the county is zoned already and that with nearly everything they would need to do if the township is zoned, they already have to go through (or are supposed to go through) with the county.
On the issue of giving up control to just the three trustees, it was stated that these are members of the community and that they have no desire to change the character of the township or police everyone.
The goal is to keep control over things mentioned such as marijuana, solar fields and more.
It was also stated that, if people have an issue with what the trustees do (or future trustees), that they are able to vote them out and put in someone else.
It was however stated by a member of the public that doing so could take up to four years and that things would have already happened by then.
On the topic of voting for zoning, the issue will go on the ballot if the trustees decide to go down that route.
The Village of Fayette residents would be able to vote on the issue, but that would be the one and only time village residents would vote on an issue that only has to do with the township.
This was something that many took issue with due to the fact that zoning the township would not affect village residents but would affect those who live in the township.
Residents also took issue with the fact that they would not know anything about how the township would be zoned before voting on it.
Many asked if there was any way a rough draft of sorts could be prepared before they voted, with it being stated that it would be possible.
One resident also asked if it would be possible to remove zoning in the future if it was causing problems. Barnes stated that he has not seen that done as of yet.
Many topics were discussed, and many issues were brought up for discussion. More meetings will take place in the future before and if the issue is placed on the ballot.
Township Trustees also stated that they plan on putting the word out even more as time goes on so that they can have as much input as possible.
Jacob can be reached at email@example.com