At a lengthy meeting on April 24, the Berlin Township Board of Trustees heard hearings about potential developments in the township’s business park.

R.J. Sabatino, of T & R Properties, made a presentation to the trustees on his Berlin Industrial Overlay (BIO) application in the Berlin Business Park (BBP) that was continued from April 10. Sabatino had written the proposed use was for Industrial Warehousing for the first hearing.

The trustees noted that a multi-use path was moved by the applicant into the public right of way, and they wanted it back where it had been decided before on April 10. Engineer Mark Mann, of T & R, questioned where the path would go.

“It is very clearly stated in the BIO that it shall be required to be placed outside of the public right-of-way and where they had previously discussed it would be located would maximize the safety of the residents and others that may use it,” the meeting minutes said. “The way it was conceptualized, the path was to follow in a safe manner down the (routes) 36/37 corridor so that it would eventually attach to potentially the Ohio-Erie trail which has a route that comes off of 36/37 and on the other side the pedestrian parkway that the city of Delaware has.”

Other items were that the area for the project is just over 69 acres, with 10.15 acres (or 15.5%) as central green space, and a total of 500 parking spaces. The hearing was recessed, and Sabatino said they were agreeable to changing the path back and a prior mailbox addition. He also agreed to putting sidewalks on both sides of the proposed Plunkett Road north of Reed Parkway. At that point, the trustees unanimously approved the application.

Halfway into meeting, there was another hearing, this regarding the Residences of Berlin Township, also in the BBP, which could provide “substantial tax revenue at a very low impact on the schools,” Sabatino said. “The township needs the rooftops to supply the workers who want to work and live in the township.”

The minutes said, “Sabatino stated that the multi-family portion is necessary for the entire project to happen,” meaning the previously approved industrial portion.

The Residences of Berlin Township subdivision would consist of 306 apartments (one to three bedrooms), with requested divergences for density (6.97 units per square acre instead of 4), parking (one and-a-half to two spaces per unit instead of three) and minimum square footage (750 instead of 800 square feet). It was said that Fourwinds Apartments and Seattle House (both at 681 square feet) were among the one-bedroom apartments in the area. The applicant was reminded “that every township operates independently,” and what was approved elsewhere may not be approved in Berlin Township.

Among the trustees comments were that they wished to follow the recommendations of the Delaware Regional Planning Commission on the density and square footage. Another had “a problem with ‘luxury’ apartments being under 800 square feet.”

Two members of the public spoke in favor of the project, noting it would jump start the BBP and bring more amenities to the area like Genoa and Orange townships. Four people spoke against it, with concerns about traffic saying developers know what is allowed ahead of time before they purchase a property.

A letter against the project that was entered into the minutes said the BIO and Berlin Commercial Overlay of nearly 2,000 acres were approved in 2020 as a compromise “between existing residents and township/county officials as all understood the need for revenue from responsible industrial and commercial development but also the need to provide zoning buffers.”

The letter continued, “The developer is one part of a larger company which includes Today Homes which is building condo/ranch/townhouse duplex homes in Delaware at Boulder Reserve and Enclave at Adalee with prices of $300,00+. They tout their BIA Parade of Homes awards but apparently don’t wish to bring that level of development to Berlin Township.”

It concluded that if approved, a precedent would be set and the “overlays are for naught.”

Sabatino responded that approval wouldn’t open the floodgates, and that the units had already been reduced from 376, and 80 people are moving to the county daily, so why not Berlin?

“The special circumstance in this matter is that they are at the gateway of the BBP … and (the trustees) do not have to grant the same variances to anyone else,” Sabatino said.

The trustees stood firm on their requirements. After a long exchange between the trustees and the applicant, there was a recess. Sabatino said we “are not asking for anything that they believe to be unreasonable, they are asking for what any developer will need to kick off the BBP.” He asked to have the hearing continued to June 12, and it was granted.

During another recess but as part of the meeting, the trustees discussed a Joint Economic Development District for BBP in consultation with Concord Township and the Village of Shawnee Hills. There was also talk of working with the Delaware County Finance Authority to get bonded for development in the BBP.

Also at the meeting, there was discussion about Fairview Cemetery, 5035 Columbus Pike. One trustee did not like the suggestion of getting a new sign like the one in Delaware’s Oak Grove Cemetery. Part of the fence at the cemetery had been hit by a car. It can be replaced with grant money. The new phone number for the cemetery is 740-513-6834.

The trustees are Chair Meghan Raehll, Ron Bullard and Ken O’Brien. Also present were Fiscal Officer Claudia Smith and Assistant Fiscal Officer Theresa Taylor.

In addition, Jesse Peden was promoted to road superintendent. There was also talk about a township administrator.

The meeting began at 5:30 p.m. and ended at 11:43 p.m.

Assistant Editor Gary Budzak covers the eastern half of Delaware County and surrounding areas. He may be reached at [email protected].