“I was thinking let’s get through this election, then decide to certify it to the ballot or not,” said Board of Elections member Steve Cuckler. “Depending on whether you certify it or you don’t certify it, the other side is going to contest it.”
Cuckler said since the referendum will likely be contested, he suggested holding the hearings in January after the holidays.
Berlin Township trustees passed a resolution Nov. 13 that approved sending the petition to the Board of Elections for a referendum to be placed on the May 2018 primary election ballot.
If approved by voters, the referendum will overturn the trustees’ Oct. 9 approval of rezoning 24 acres of property from Farm Residential to Planned Industrial Development.
The request for rezoning the land located along U.S. 36 and State Route 37 came from the owner of the property, Savko Brothers Properties X LLC. The company is proposing a commerce park at the site, which would include a concrete batching facility.
“They passed a resolution saying it was valid and sufficient and they were certifying it to the (Board of Elections),” said Board of Elections Director Karla Herron.
Herron said Berlin Township also sent along an attachment with the petition that basically said, according to her, “we’ve decided to send it on to the board to confirm the validity and the sufficiency of it.”
Deputy Director Anthony Saadey told the board that the petition needs to be “settled out 90 days” before the May election.
Graeme Quinn, a resident of Berlin Township, initiated the referendum and hand delivered it to the township’s fiscal officer Claudia Smith on Nov. 6.
Quinn said his property line is right next to the property of the proposed commerce park. His objection isn’t the construction of the park or even the concrete batching facility. He said in an earlier report that it’s the “80,000-pound trucks and these kids are standing right next to the road,” that bothers him.
The traffic pattern suggested by the Ohio Department of Transportation calls for truck traffic not to cross U.S. 36/State Route 37, but to turn right and then make a U-turn at Lackey Old State Road to go to Interstate 71.
“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.”
The night the trustees approved sending the petition to the Board of Elections, Quinn said Savko Brothers Properties X LLC brought attorneys to the meeting.
Quinn reported that when one of Savko’s attorneys tried to give a presentation, Trustee Ron Bullard directed him and Mark Fowler from Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office to a room to continue the discussion in private. He said it lasted a couple of hours.
“Ultimately, the trustees concluded that the petition appeared to be complete, valid, have sufficient signatures, and was received within the 30-day deadline,” Quinn said. “They passed a resolution to certify the referendum petition and send it to the Board of Elections.”
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.