Due to a crowded Genoa Township Community Hall, the Zoning Commission postponed two public hearings that were scheduled for Monday night.

The hearings were regarding rezoning property from rural residential to planned residential for two developments. The first hearing was for a 94-condominium development by Epcon Communities on 40 acres at Big Walnut and Worthington roads in Galena and Westerville; the second was for a 27-unit condominium development by Vince Romanelli on about 10 acres at South Old 3C Highway in Westerville. The latter was mistakenly identified on the township notices as 26 units.

The public turned out in force to comment. The township hall’s parking lot was overflowing, with vehicles parked on the grass. A line of people trying to get in went around half the building. All seats were filled, and people were standing out the door and in the kitchen area. Some were heard to say they had never seen so many people in the hall. It was also said that some people intending to attend didn’t because it was so crowded.

An email sent by a group called Love Genoa was obtained by The Sunbury News and Delaware Gazette prior to the meeting. It opposed the two developments, saying they were high-density and would increase traffic in the area.

“Please show up in large numbers Monday night to this precedent-setting meeting and make it clear that Genoa belongs to the residents,” the email said. The email also said that vocal opposition may prevent the township’s trustees from later approving the developments.

As the meeting started, one resident standing in the back told the commission members that he thought the hall might have more people in it than legally allowed, and he threatened to call the fire department due to safety concerns. A head count was taken, and it was determined there were 160 people in the hall. That was five more than the building’s capacity.

After a brief consultation, commission Chairperson Connie Goodman said, “These two hearings will be continued to a date uncertain.”

At that point, much of the crowd left. That meeting is expected to be well-attended.

Joe Shafer, Director of Development and Zoning for the township, said later in the meeting after the crowd had dispersed that he would attempt to find a larger venue to hold the public hearings, possibly at Westerville Central High School.

By Gary Budzak

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Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.