Preserving Sawmill Parkway as limited access road


Don’t put the cart before the horse.

The old saying is apt in considering the rezoning proposal before the Liberty Township Zoning Commission both in its general meaning and in that it refers to the “horse country” history of the northern portion of the township.

What apparently has happened is that a major proposal (cart) has been brought to the zoning board before a revision of the 2018 Liberty Township Comprehensive Plan (horse) has been undertaken. The proposed rezoning would permit a multitude of commercial and high-density housing developments on 190 acres north of Hyatts Road and south of Clark-Shaw Road.

As a member of the 2018 Comprehensive Plan Review Committee who participated in a series of public meetings over more than a year before a recommendation was made and subsequently unanimously approved by the Liberty Township trustees, I can attest to you that the future of the land between Hyatts and Clark-Shaw roads along Sawmill Parkway was thoroughly considered and that the conclusion that it remain single-family residential and agricultural represented the broad consensus of the committee members and the trustees.

It was clear that existing and future business and commercial development along Home Road plus future commercial development further north along the Sawmill Parkway on lands within the city of Delaware near U.S. 42 would be more than sufficient to meet the business and commercial needs of the residents of the area north of Hyatts Road in Liberty Township.

It was further found during the process of preparing our comprehensive plan that maintaining the area north of Hyatts Road as single-family residential and agricultural would provide a refreshing and placid buffer between the two business and commercial zones. Preserving Sawmill Parkway as a limited access road with its traffic calming roundabouts and its openness would provide a refreshing way for people to enter Liberty Township from the north and to depart it from the south. It would add to the uniqueness and attraction of our community and differentiate us from the monotonous urban sprawl that permeates so much of the expanding Columbus metropolitan area.

It is clear then that the proper way to proceed on this matter would be for the zoning commission and the trustees to decline the zoning proposal and for the trustees, if they wish to consider any changes to the 2018 comprehensive plan, to hire a professional planner and to commence the process of amending our 2018 comprehensive plan. In the event the trustees do not wish to wait for the process of amending the comprehensive plan, then the trustees should consider submitting any plan of the pending rezoning proposal’s magnitude to the voters of Liberty Township for approval or be prepared for its likely defeat in a referendum undertaken by the neighbors.

The current proposal came before the zoning commission at a Zoom meeting on Dec. 16. The 33 neighbors able to testify overwhelmingly opposed the proposal as not compatible with the single-family and agricultural nature of the area. The meeting was continued until Jan. 27. I urge the neighbors and other interested persons to communicate their opposition to the plan to the zoning commission members as well as to the members of the Liberty Township Board of Trustees, who will make the ultimate decision. Since the Jan. 27 meeting may not be open for public comments, communication likely will need to be by email or letters to the township officials.

In conclusion, I urge all Liberty Township residents to join with the neighbors ( in opposing the proposal before the zoning commission on Jan. 27. Please communicate with the zoning board and the trustees. You can find their contact information at the township website (

Let us not put the cart before the horse in the horse country north of Hyatts Road.

By John K. Hartman

Guest columnist

A resident of Liberty Township since 2008, John K. Hartman is an emeritus professor of journalism at Central Michigan University and a member of the CMU Journalism Hall of Fame. In 2019 he was named a distinguished alumnus of the Ashland City Schools. He serves as an alternate on the township zoning board and is a Democratic Party precinct committeeman. He was a member of the Bowling Green board of education from 1978-1997.

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