Applicants trying to rezone 13 acres of land along Fancher Road in Harlem Township requested that trustees postpone the hearing until Wednesday, March 28.

The applicants, Jim Gehring and Jeff Barr, asked for the postponement due to their consultant being unavailable for the meeting. The proposed use of the property is a 500-unit storage facility.

A group of Harlem Township residents who have banded together in what they call “an effort to rally the troops” attended the meeting in hopes of being heard by the trustees. The board did allow a few comments before moving to other business on the agenda.

One resident, who identified himself as Jim, spoke up for the rezoning and the development.

“I’d be tickled to death if a big commercial place moved in next to me,” he said. “The for sale shingle (sign) would go up out front because my property values just went up.”

Herman “Judge” Berk Jr.’s house is across the street from the property.

“If you want it, you can buy my property,” he said. “Because my property has to face these stupid buildings across the street, and I don’t want to see it. My property (value) is going to go down.”

Another resident read out loud from the Harlem Township website.

“Today, the rural character of this township remains in the forefront. Harlem residents enjoy relative privacy in their living conditions and minimal commercial encroachment. This is the underlying theme which characterizes our community,” she said.

Harlem Township Fire Chief Dale Fling told The Gazette that it’s “not 100 percent” of residents who are against the rezoning and the development of the land. However, it is an emotional situation.

The request to rezone the 13 acres to a Planned Commercial and Office District has already cleared the township’s zoning commission. In the trustees next meeting on March 28, they will consider and possibly take action on the rezoning request.

Residents that own property near the 13 acres of land said they were not against development.

Brittany Bowers, whose property borders the 13 acres proposed to be rezoned, said if the proposed rezoning takes place and the storage facility is allowed to be built, the facility plan shows an 800-foot privacy fence that will run along her driveway.

“We understand that is going to happen,” she said. “We want the trustees to really consider what is smart for the community. Is a 500-unit storage facility best for our community when most of us have outbuildings? It will not bring more jobs to the community because it’s a kiosk.”

Bowers said the plans propose a “stormwater retention area at the back of the property that already floods.” She said the area floods onto her property and with a retention pond, it will only get worst.

Bowers said the group has a petition started on with close to 200 signatures.

“The signatures don’t count against a referendum but show support against the rezoning. As a group, we’re trying to rally the troops and show the trustees that we don’t want this in our community,” she said.

The next Harlem Township trustees meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 28 in the township hall, 3883 S. State Route 605, Galena.

By D. Anthony Botkin

[email protected]

Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.