Berlin Township Fiscal Officer Claudia Smith received a petition Monday regarding a referendum that will be placed on the May 2018 ballot.
The referendum gives voters the chance to overrule township trustees’ approval to rezone 24 acres of land to Planned Industrial Development.
Trustees approved the rezoning of 24 acres of land Oct. 9 from Farm Residential to Planned Industrial Development, granting a request by Savko Brothers Properties X LLC, which plans to develop the land located along U.S. 36 and State Route 37. The proposed Savko Commerce Park includes plans for the construction of a concrete batching facility.
“We found there is an absolutely overwhelming opposition to the rezoning of this property,” said Graeme Quinn, a township resident who initiated the petition for the referendum. “People did not know about the rezoning.”
Quinn said he was required to get signatures from 8 percent of the Berlin Township residents who voted in the last gubernatorial race.
“In 2014, there were approximately 2,300 people who voted for any of the governor candidates in Berlin’s five precincts,” he said. “Our target was 182, we got 343 and we could have kept going because it was ridiculous how many people were so vividly opposed to it.”
Smith said the estimated population for the township in 2017 was 7,360.
Quinn said he discovered that people didn’t fully understand that the zoning change had been approved and that the industrial park was going to be built. He said the big concern is safety.
“These are 8,000-pound trucks and these kids are standing right next to the road,” he said.
The suggested pattern from the Ohio Department of Transportation is for truck traffic to not cross U.S. 36/State Route 37, but turn right and then make a U-turn at Lackey Old State Road to go to Interstate 71.
“A concrete truck tried to make a U-turn right in that intersection on Oct. 11,” Quinn said. “There is an Ohio Highway Patrol accident report from when they dragged him out of the ditch. It reinforces the point of we don’t feel that type of truck movement is safe.
“The thing we’re trying to achieve here is, we’re trying to keep the township on its land use plan,” Quinn said. “Just have that corridor to be businesses that are a direct benefit to the township and not just a strip of industrial properties that benefit the people outside the township.”
Smith told Quinn the board of trustees will vote on a resolution Monday to send the petition to the Delaware County Board of Elections.
“I then take it to the board of elections,” she said.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.