Special sessions center on case


The Berlin Township Board of Trustees met on April 3. “The meeting was called to discuss the TowerCo litigation and thought it was best to recess to executive session,” meeting minutes read.

Nearly two hours later, the meeting went public again to adjourn. “No decisions were made, and no actions were taken,” it was said.

According to a complaint filed on July 14, 2022, in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas, the trustees are the plaintiff in the case against telecommunications company TowerCo, the Olentangy Local School District and the OLSD Board of Education. The complaint said the district proposed to lease property it owned to TowerCo for a wireless cell tower at 2502 Piatt Road near Berlin High School and Cheshire Elementary at the school board meeting on Sept. 23, 2021. However, some nearby residents voiced their objections to the tower at the trustees meeting on Oct. 20, 2021. Two of the three trustees that were present and are still serving — Ron Bullard and Ken O’Brien — stated their support for the residents, as well as a formal objection letter. Meghan Raehll, who later became the third trustee, wrote her own letter as a resident objecting to the project.

TowerCo claimed they were exempt from Berlin Township’s Zoning Resolution and applied for a building permit to the Delaware County Department of Building Safety. The cell tower was under construction from December 2021 to May 2022, when the county issued a stop work order on May 17, 2022, the complaint said. The trustees are currently seeking judgment in its favor, as well as removal of the existing construction.

The trustees met for nearly six hours on April 10. Part of the meeting was regarding the litigation, requiring an executive session.

Also at that meeting, Metro Development sought a three-year extension on a Planned Commercial District in Berlin Meadows due to lack of sewer and builders backing out from the pandemic. It would cost $2.5 million to bring sewer to the area. The trustees instead granted an extension of the preliminary plan to Oct. 10, 2024, based on the progress that had been made.

T & R Properties had a hearing regarding Mixed Use Development and Berlin Industrial Overlay for a warehouse in the Berlin Business Park (BBP). Exhibits in the binder that were previously accepted for the BBP were accepted by the trustees. The trustees said they were “checking the boxes and if it complies with the design standards.”

The applicant said this was an “industrial project at the Chapman property at 36/37 and Lackey Old State. This development proposes to extend Reed Parkway westward for access to a road that will be called South Plunkett Road. The development proposed to have a total of 480,000 square feet of industrial, each building will be 120,000 square feet.”

The trustees were concerned about the property boundary, and “there was a lengthy discussion regarding the plan … concerning the clarification of open space, traffic concerns, mailbox location and design, trash disposal and lighting.”

The applicant asked for a continuance to April 24, which was granted.

Next, the trustees rejected the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, so the Berlin Zoning Commission could start the process over since the deadline is not until the end of the year. The resolution language was: “MOTION TO REJECT BZC 22-003 BERLIN TOWNSHIP 23-04-14 COMPREHENSIVE LAND USE PLAN, WITH THANKS TO THE BZC FOR THE EXCELLENT WORK AND CONSIDERATION OF THE CURRENT DRAFT AND IN ANTICIPATION OF INITIATION OF THE UPDATE TO THE COMP PLAN BEING REVIEWED AND REINITIATED AT A LATER DATE, IN ORDER TO ALLEVIATE HAVING TO REDO IT AGAIN.”

Also at the meeting, about 70 street signs in the township will need to be replaced, at $100/sign. No roads qualified for grant funding this year. There was also talk of a Welcome to Berlin Township sign. There were concerns about trash being dumped by the railroad tracks on Sweeney Road.

In other business, “the trustees were not interested in any additional life insurance.”

At a special meeting on April 18, the Berlin Township Trustees opposed joining the National Opioid Litigation settlements.

The reasoning was unclarity of information.

Trustees were told “the number of monies that would be available depended on the number of entities that joined the National Opioid Litigation, so there is no definite way of knowing how much the township could get,” meeting minutes said. “The trustees were concerned that the outcome of signing on would mean that the township may have to pay into litigation and be named as a party in a potential lawsuit, which would cost the township more money than what it may receive from the settlement.”

The litigation involves Allergan, CVS, Teva, Walgreen’s and Walmart.

At another special meeting on April 20, the trustees had an executive session “to conference with an attorney for the public body concerning disputes involving the public body that are the subject of pending or imminent court action concerning TowerCo.” After 10 minutes, it was said, “We met in executive session and no decisions were made and no actions were taken.”

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

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