A group of Harlem Township residents has banded together in an effort to “rally the troops” for Wednesday’s Harlem Township Board of Trustees meeting.
Trustees will consider and possibly take action on rezoning 13 acres of land to a Planned Commercial and Office District. The request has already cleared the township’s zoning commission.
According to the residents who own property near the land being considered for rezoning, the proposed use is for a 500-unit storage facility on Fancher Road. Residents said the land is currently zoned agricultural.
“We’re not against development. We understand that is going to happen,” said Brittany Bowers, the property owner who lives next to the 13 acres that are proposed to be rezoned. “We want the trustees to really consider what is smart for the community. Is a 500-unit storage facility best for our community when most of us have outbuildings? It will not bring more jobs to the community because it’s a kiosk.”
Bowers said if the proposed rezoning takes place and the storage facility is allowed to be built, the facility plan shows an 800-foot privacy fence that will run along her driveway.
“It will be 419 feet of privacy fence and then it turns into a chain link fence,” she said.
Bowers said the plans propose a “stormwater retention area at the back of the property that already floods.” She said the area floods onto her property and with a retention pond, it will only get worst.
“We have a petition started on Change.org that has close to 200 signatures,” she said. “The signatures don’t count against a referendum but show support against the rezoning. As a group, we’re trying to rally the troops and show the trustees that we don’t want this in our community.”
According to Bowers, Harlem Township is supposed to be a lower-density community.
“In order to build a house it has to be a minimum of two acres,” she said. “Having 10 buildings on a single lot is not low-density.”
Maintaining property values is another concern of Bowers.
“Our property values are at risk for those of us surrounding the property,” she said. “I bought my house a year ago. Am I going to be upside-down on my mortgage if property values dip low enough?”
Bower said the people proposing the storage facility are not from the area, but live in Lancaster and Blacklick.
“They’re not part of the community, and they’re not invested in the community,” she said.
Susi Perry, a resident who lives across the street from the property, said the proposed storage facility will be a kiosk and unmanned.
“There won’t be any income taxes collected,” she said.
Perry said she has investigated other storage facilities within the area and found many are not at capacity.
“Within a five- to six-mile range of the proposed facility, I think there were five or six of them that aren’t even at capacity,” she said. “If you have five or six facilities that are only an acre in size, how can there be a demand for a 13-acre facility?”
“It’s not needed. It’s not necessary,” Perry added.
Jennifer Slater, a township resident, said, “Cardinal Self Storage, literally five miles away, has 454 units with a 41 percent vacancy right now.”
According to Herman “Judge” Berk Jr., people are concerned about possible criminal activity, and the criminals hiding in the outbuildings and barns of the surrounding residents.
Berk said the parking and storing of motor homes and boats will only lead to the theft of generators and boat motors.
“If you build a place like this you’re putting a smorgasbord out there for them,” he said. “If you have crime across the street, nobody will move into the area.”
Berk said the lights will be on 24 hours a day. He said the residents moved to the country to get away from the lights.
The Harlem Township trustees meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in township hall, 3883 S. State Route 605, Galena.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.