Zoning commission busy in Harlem Twp.


GALENA — The Harlem Township Zoning Commission was busy in the second half of 2023.

Reports from the June 5 meeting included a thank-you to Crossroads Community Planning, LLC for their work on four new articles in the zoning resolution.

“Licking County has a public group that is helping organize their response to Intel development,” minutes from that meeting read. “It’s called Framework Licking County. Delaware County has nothing to compare. …We are working on another (industrial) overlay district that will cover the eastern edge of the township, from the dogleg on Evans Road up to the top corner of the township. Route 37 will be developed way beyond anyone’s expectations. There is definitely going to be a major Connector between Johnstown and Sunbury to get people over to Interstate-71, over to Route 161 and Route 62… Much of this pressure is driven by New Albany.”

The commission noted during a June 12 workshop meeting that they were “looking at the Center Village areas to try to build an attractive walkable downtown.” Another zoning workshop on July 10 reviewed Planned Districts.

On July 3, it was reported the “Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) is working on the third overlay district along County Line Road, from the north end of the township down to Innis Road.” Also discussed was “the growth of Monroe Township as a whole, and future bypasses around Sunbury and Johnstown.”

Two public hearings were held on July 17. The commission approved two rezonings of different 5-acre plots from Agricultural Residential to Single Family Residential, despite some objections. Each application would next be heard by the trustees, and they were both approved at their Aug. 16 meeting.

The Aug. 7 meeting was only available as a two-hour Zoom video. Topics of discussion included the roadwork to accommodate the forthcoming Amazon, Intel, Microsoft hubs. A rezoning for a lot-split on Woodtown Road was heard and eventually recessed to Sept. 5 so the applicant could update surveying information. An application for rezoning for storage at a Fancher Road address (in Westerville) was received, and a hearing date of Sept. 11 was set. There was also a procedural discussion regarding recesses and the zoning checklist.

The commission discussed the definition of Residential District R2 zoning at its workshop on Aug. 14. This was resumed on Oct. 9.

An amendment to Article 35 of the township’s Zoning Resolution was the topic of a Aug. 28 special meeting. The hearing was for the County Line Road overlay extending to Green Cook Road. During public comment, it was “asked if there had been any consultation with Johnstown-Munroe or New Albany and Delaware County. Strategic Planning responded that they have been meeting with other communities to discuss the growth. Commission stressed that Harlem Township has been more proactive in zoning than surrounding communities.”

The Sept. 5 meeting saw the commission approving the lot-split from the prior month, properly updated. Article 35 was again discussed, with SPC explaining to the public that the overlay is being developed to prevent annexation. In answer to other questions, it was said, “Sewer plans have been in place by county. Harlem not making the decisions but trying to protect the township.” Future property values couldn’t be predicted. The commission then unanimously approved the amended article.

The zoning applications were later approved by the township trustees, respectively, in a special meeting on Sept. 7, and following a public hearing on Sept. 27. At the latter, there was some public opposition, and the minutes said, “the board (of trustees) expressed their views and what they see coming and how the township is trying to prevent annexation… This motion is subject to a 30-day referendum period.”

The Delaware County Regional Planning Commission (DCRPC) recommended denying the zoning request heard on Sept. 11, and the Zoning Commission followed suit. The trustees denied the application as well on Oct. 18.

It was reported at the Oct. 2 Zoning meeting that the Harlem trustees had approved the County Line Road overlay. SPC was looking to extend an overlay on Trenton Road, work on Center Village and “economic-related counterparts to the zoning overlays.”

It was noted at the Nov. 13 meeting that DCRPC is reviewing the Residential District and Planned Residential District articles.

The Zoning Commission consists of Chair Mike Kabler, Brittany Hoperich, Virginia Lewis, Joni Manson and Tom Nied. Diana Welch is the zoning administrative assistant. Trustee Bob Singer and Scott Sanders from DCRPC have also attended the meetings, as well as President Holly Mattei and Planner Molly Ridge of Crossroads Community Planning.

The Harlem Township Board of Zoning Appeals’ recent meetings in 2023 included July 17, where there was no new business other than Zoning Director Mike Cannon reporting some nuisance properties. On Aug. 21, new Administrative Assistant DG Wolff was introduced to the board. The Sept. 18 meeting was “cancelled due to Covid,” the township website said.

At the Oct. 16 meeting, it was reported the “Strategic Planning Committee is to begin discussing a new overlay in the northwest corner of the township, close to Galena. This overlay will be focused on residential purposes… real estate in Harlem Township has been doing very well, likely due to the incoming Intel center and incoming potential employees.”

During the Nov. 20 BZA meeting, the board returned an application for a sign variance, and heard about a conditional use permit, a dog run variance and selling cars on a property. There had been 86 new permits issued at that time, already more than the 80 issued in 2022. Cannon said, “most of the permits have been for swimming pools and accessory buildings,” at the Nov. 6 Zoning Commission meeting.

The BZA consists of Chair Keith Campbell, Steve Eisenbrown, Kyle Faris, Bill Gallagher and Jim Steelesmith.

The Harlem Community Park Committee consists of Josie Bonnette, Lurley Hernandez, Kabler, Nied, Jerry Paul, Dave Snyder and Ed Valeska. On Aug. 16, it was announced that a 66-gallon trash and recycling container was being donated to the park; and two trees would be replaced.

Assistant Editor Gary Budzak photographs and reports on stories in eastern Delaware County and surrounding areas.

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