Twp. BZA hears variance requests


LEWIS CENTER — In this article, The Gazette is catching up readers on the Orange Township Board of Zoning Appeals meetings for much of 2023.

First, the BZA had a legal training session on March 16. Next, variance applications were heard on April 20, where it was said the first item, the Delaware County Islamic Center’s conditional use hearing on land zoned Farm Residential, had been tabled.

The BZA then heard a case that was both “conditional use and an area variance” at 6576 Africa Road, where North Church was seeking the construction of a monument sign. They approved the conditional use first, allowed for the installation of the sign, modifying the base of the to comply with township code and the sign dimensions.

Also on April 20, another monument sign hearing was given for property owned by Cross Creek Homeowners Association at Rosepark Boulevard and Orange Road. Prior to their approval, the BZA was told this would be to remove an existing ground sign that was old and peeling, and install the new sign in the flower bed area. The next two cases involved patio extensions in the Meadows at Lewis Center subdivision, which were also approved.

Another busy BZA session took place on May 18. First was a variance to have no fencing around a swimming pool at a property in the Wilshire subdivision. Instead, the existing automatic locking safety cover would be used for the inground pool. The subdivision’s HOA said, “they don’t permit fences on properties … unless required by a government agency.” It was said that a prior case for a similar variance request had been denied.

The representative for the applicant said contractors were unable to put a fence around the pool due to a 20-foot elevation change for a ravine. However, a member of the HOA said the pool had been approved with a fence going around it. The BZA went into private deliberations and decided to “render a written decision at the next meeting.” The variance was then denied on June 15.

The next case was to allow for a place of worship on a lot smaller than five acres on East Orange Road zoned Farm Residential. The applicant expected 15 to 20 attendees for individual prayer services at this temporary location, before relocating to a new site. One nearby resident was concerned about noise but was told it would be less than a next-door wellness center. The BZA approved the use.

Another case was for signage above the standard height of 15 feet on Columbus Pike in the North Pointe Plaza. The owner, CASTO, was seeking a 19-foot sign for the Arby’s. It was said the Bank of America received a variance for 22 feet, as did a Wendy’s. The variance was approved by a 4-1 vote. Also seeking a signage variance was for a 24-foot-high sign for a business with a 37-foot-tall building on Corduroy Road in the Creekside Industrial Park. The applicant was told that was a 60% variance, greater than the 25% considered substantial by the BZA, while 18 feet, 9 inches would be acceptable. A continuance was to June 15 was granted, where the lower height was unanimously approved.

In other business, the BZA allowed for a property in Wilshire Estates to encroach in the rear-yard setback due to a pool and patio by a 3-2 vote. The June 15 meeting also had a porch addition that encroached on a backyard setback on Little Bear Loop, which was approved.

There was one case on July 20, for sign variances at the Popeyes on Owenfield Drive. It was said “that it is a crazy amount of variance” but may be necessary due to its location. After much discussion, one BZA member said, “We’re not here to redesign this application. That’s not our job… We’re to look at what has been proposed and act on that.” Three of the four variances were granted, with the fourth approved the next month.

It was also noted there were already 500 zoning permits compared to 346 in July 2022.

There was a request for an apartment above a barbershop on Lewis Center Road at the Aug. 17 meeting, which was approved. The second case was for a deck and concrete patio to encroach in a backyard in the North Orange subdivision, which was also approved.

During the Sept. 14 BZA meeting, variances were requested for a proposed 230-student daycare facility in the Orange Corporate Park at U.S. Route 23 and East Orange Road. The variance for a front setback and a parking lot of 50 spaces (instead of the required 75) was denied, while the perimeter setback was approved. Next, a backyard setback and a front setback along a private alley at Evans Farm were both approved. In addition, the Evans Farm Joint Economic Development District board met on Sept. 13.

The last BZA meeting where minutes were posted was on Oct. 19. There, variances for a patio to encroach into rear yard setback was approved for a property at the River’s Edge subdivision. However, a variance for a shed on a backyard at the Green Meadows Village subdivision was denied following a 2-2 vote.

The BZA consists of Chairman Aaron Shipley, Jr.; Vice Chair Kelvin Trefz; and members Pamela Foster (who later joined the Zoning Commission), Stacey Neff, Sue D. Ross, Punitha Sundar and Steve Totzke. Senior Zoning Officer Brett Wiemken presides over the meetings and provides an overview of each case, later done by Robin Duffee. Also in attendance was Zoning Inspector Andrew Koenig. The chairman swears in the witnesses (applicants) wishing to testify.

The BZA meets at Orange Township Hall, 1680 East Orange Road, Lewis Center. The proceedings are live-streamed. For more information, visit

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

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