Development application withdrawn in Berlin Twp.


The Berlin Zoning Commission (BZC) heard a final development plan for a commercial/office center known as Hyatts Plaza on about three acres at 31 Hyatts Road, Delaware, at its meeting on Sept. 26, 2023.

Only one commission member had been present for the original hearing, but the developers said they could set the site up this spring. The plan was then approved. The applicant later had two minor deviations, which were approved by the BZC on Oct. 24.

Next was discussion about revising the zoning resolution. The BZC was told the Berlin Township Board of Trustees preferred a one-step zoning process (like Orange Township) has, as opposed to the current two-step process. There was concern about large rezonings and that having a two-step process is more thorough. A lengthy discussion about 31 items on the zoning resolution rewrite continued on Oct. 10. Scott Sanders, executive director of the Delaware County Regional Planning Commission, joined the conversation at the Oct. 24 meeting. Sanders updated the zoning resolution, and it was discussed on Nov. 28.

The Cheshire Mills development was the topic of a couple BZC meetings, starting on Nov. 14. Cheshire Mills was proposed as a mixed-use traditional village on 11 acres on the vacant lands on the south side of Cheshire Road and east of East Street in the Village of Cheshire. There would be up to 45 dwellings, along with commercial uses.

During a lengthy public hearing, commission members expressed concerns about fencing, garages, parking, traffic and setbacks. They also preferred as few as 30 units. During public comment, many residents expressed opposition to what they called high-density housing, saying the only people benefitting from it would be the developer, and that the rural nature of the area would be ruined.

“This is not Dublin, Sunbury or Delaware,” was one comment. “The animals are being pushed out of the area, and all of the trees are being torn down.”

Another person said, “The residents did not have a say in the comprehensive land use plan (CLUP)” Berlin had worked on. “She has been here for 20 years and has never heard about it.”

“There are a lot of very negative feelings in the room,” a BZC member said to the audience, asking them to stay composed. “The township cannot turn down an applicant if they want to apply and have a hearing. They have the right to present their case before the township. The BZC is happy that the residents came out to voice their concerns … remove the ‘you’ comments and to stop acting as though the BZC was doing this to them, as they are not doing anything to them. This is the way the process works.”

“Development happens,” a BZC member said. “The BZC’s job is to make sure they get the best possible deal. The applicant is following the regulations, and Ohio is a right-to-building state and requires that if he follows the regulations, that they let him build what he wants to build. Everybody cares about the wildlife and the trees. It will never be perfect, but there may be some benefits, and they are all doing the best they can … the BZC appreciates that the residents are here and said that the applicant is going to make changes.

It was decided to table the application until Dec. 12. At that time, an amended application and PowerPoint presentation was made to the BZC. An attorney noted in the minutes, “while Ohio political subdivisions can zone and re-zone properties and can regulate the use of land, they may not do so in a capricious, arbitrary or unreasonable manner.” He further said that a CLUP not in accordance with zoning regulations “could constitute unlawful spot zoning.”

However, the developer requested that the application be withdrawn, saying, “the most frustrating part was to find that everything in his application was what has been done in three other subdivisions in this township.”

A commission member responded, “looking at what the neighboring property owners have done to see what he is allowed to do is a good idea, as there may be some non-conforming uses or litigation going on for some that were not approved by the commission.”

The developer said he had lived on Africa Road for more than 20 years and wanted to leave the area better than he found it. This was followed by public comments, many continuing to express concern over the development.

The BZC consists of Chairperson Darcy Kaplan, Vice Chair Angela Brown, alternate Jasper DeChristopher, Keith Goshia, alternate Tara Shields and Jenni Sloas. Also present are Zoning Inspector Jake Bon, Assistant Zoning Inspector Jerry Valentine (who was previously on the BZC), Zoning Secretary Cathy Rippel, Zoning Clerk Lisa Knapp. They meet at the Berlin Township Hall, 3271 Cheshire Road, Delaware.

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

No posts to display