On Tuesday, May 8, Berlin Township voters will decide whether or not to approve the debated rezoning of 24 acres of land located on U.S. 36/state Route 37 for a proposed industrial park/concrete plant.
Trustees approved the rezoning request from Savko Brothers Properties X LLC Oct. 9, 2017, but many residents disagreed with the decision and petitioned for a referendum to be placed on the upcoming ballot.
Voters will need a “majority yes vote” to pass the adoption of the zoning amendment or a “majority no vote” to defeat it.
The language on the ballot states, “A zoning amendment to the Zoning District Map of Berlin Township, Delaware County, Ohio to rezone 24.312± acres located at 5427 State Route 37 East, Delaware, Ohio, being Delaware County Permanent Parcel No. 418-120-01-057-000, from Neighborhood Commercial District and Farm Residential District to Planned Industrial District, approved on October 9, 2017 by the Berlin Township Board of Trustees as Resolution No. 17-10-09 with Exhibits 1 through 18 with modifications of the Board of Zoning Commission’s recommendation. Shall the zoning amendment as adopted by the Berlin Township Board of Trustees be approved?”
The property’s last use was that of a junkyard, where there are remnants of old car gas tanks, junk motorboats, the car crusher, asphalt and concrete, and several buildings now in ruins.
In a report this week, Michael Shade, Savko’s attorney, said, “When you have a junkyard for over 60 years, there are going to be issues.”
Shade considers the property to be a brownfield site because of leaked oil and gas from vehicles or chemicals that were dumped there during a time when regulations were more relaxed.
“Do you think people are going to put housing back there on the FR-1 portion?” he asked. “No.”
However, whether voters defeat the rezoning or not, the concrete plant will still be built, according to Shade. He said as of April 18, Marty Savko purchased the property next to the parcel in question at 5427 state Route 37 E., Delaware, where the plant will be built if the rezoning amendment is defeated.
“It’s already zoned Planned Industrial,” Shade said.
“Build it there please,” said Graeme Quinn, a resident of Berlin Township who initiated the petition for the referendum. “The threat is muted because he is threatening us with a safer alternative.”
The property is where Buckeye Tractor currently sits.
Quinn said he equates Savko’s purchase of the property as the difference between a slap in the face and a stab in the gut.
“As a choice between the two, I’ll take the slap in the face,” he said. “Building on the Buckeye Tractor Property means the trucks don’t have to make those horrible U-turns, and the plant won’t border homes anymore.”
Quinn has maintained that his objection isn’t with the construction of the concrete plant. He said in an earlier report that it’s the “80,000-pound trucks” and kids standing next to the roadside that bothered him.
Quinn said that 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.
Quinn’s defense is that a concrete truck tried to make a U-turn right in that intersection on Oct. 11, but the truck ended up in the ditch instead.
“The space for the U-turn is smaller than the trucks,” he said. “There is an Ohio Highway Patrol accident report from when they dragged him out of the ditch.”
A traffic study was not warranted, but Savko had a study done because of concerns about traffic safety.
In a letter from ODOT, District 6 Deputy Director Ferzan states, “We have discussed your plans internally, and agree that the crossover may remain in place subject to the following conditions: (1) Elimination of the second access point along Route 36/37. (2) Commitment to preserve a corridor and donate land for the future backage road to connect to North Old State Rd. (3) Understanding that the crossover will be eliminated once access to your site is available via the backage road.”
“We can use that cut through in front of the property until that time ODOT decides what they want to do with the corridor (U.S. 36/state Route 37),” Shade said. “At no time have we been told by ODOT that we can’t use it.”
Shade said according to a traffic study done by ODOT in 2010, the traffic was estimated at 30,000 to 60,000 vehicles per day for the corridor.
“The trucks coming and going from Savko’s plant will only represent .0008,” he said.
Earlier this week, The Gazette talked with Berlin Township Fire Chief Craig Hall about the proposed Del-Co Water tower to be built on the Savko property.
“One of the problems up here in Berlin Township is the water pressure is not really great from Del-Co Water,” he said. “The most it flows now is around 350 gallons a minute. When we go into a house fire, we would like to have at least 1,000 gallons a minute.”
“What Marty (Savko) has presented to the zoning office is a site for a water tower which will help with increased water flow and pressure for this whole immediate area,” Hall said. “It will help everywhere, the neighboring townships and everybody.”
The Gazette contacted Glenn Marzluf, Del-Co Water Company’s general manager, about construction of the water tower. He said within four to 10 years Del-Co has plans to build a water tower and has talked with Savko about putting it on the property.
Those that are opposed to the rezoning measure have posted in a blog that Del-Co will build the water tower anyway, and the fire department will still get the water pressure that is needed whether it is on Savko’s property or not.
Quinn said that he has nothing but respect for Savko.
“It’s not about the man, it’s about the plan,” he said. “We can’t live with that plan.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.