Petitions and parking were the foremost things in the mind of the public at the Genoa Township Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, May 3.
Residents submitted 1,600 signed petitions for a zoning referendum; and people spoke about proposed parking restrictions in subdivisions.
The zoning referendum was in regard to the rezoning from Rural Residential to Planned Residential for about 43 acres of land at Tussic Street and Oxbow Road near Hoover Reservoir. The developer purchased the property in 2001 and said they would put a hog farm on the grounds if their proposed subdivision was rejected. On March 12, the Genoa Township Zoning Commission voted 4-0 against the rezoning application, saying the 64 homes for the Ravines at Hoover was a higher density than permitted in the township’s Comprehensive Plan.
However, trustees voted 2-1 to approve the rezoning at a contentious meeting on April 9. Trustee Chair Connie Goodman and Karl Gebhardt voted in favor, and Frank Dantonio was opposed. The majority view was that there were no divergences with the zoning code, which takes precedence over the Comprehensive Plan; and rejecting the rezoning would open the township up to another lawsuit such as happened with Cardinal Self-Storage. Gebhardt, in particular, expressed frustration that the zoning code and Comprehensive Plan were not in agreement. Angry residents were signing the petition for a referendum to be placed on the November ballot as they were leaving that meeting.
In an email sent to The Delaware Gazette and The Sunbury News, residents opposed to the rezoning wrote, “While only 688 signatures were required, 1,600 signatures were quickly collected in a little over two weeks, showing the depth of the opposition to the high-density development.” They also said if the rezoning were to go through, it “would make The Ravines at Hoover the highest-density development yet in the township.”
During the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Jim Carter told the trustees, “Close the legal loophole. I know you can. It should not take so long — 45 days is my challenge. It’s critical to this community to use the same playbook.”
“We all know it needs to be fixed,” said Goodman, noting that harmonizing the language in the zoning code and Comprehensive Plan was a priority for the zoning commission.
Several residents said they were angry that the trustees were not representing them, receiving applause from much of the audience.
The other point of conversation was a potential no parking ordinance for cul-de-sacs in the Covington Meadows subdivision. There are “islands” of green space in the middle of the cul-de-sacs, and the number of cars parked on the roads presented a public safety hazard during an emergency, said Fire Department Chief Gary Honeycutt.
“I don’t want to see the worst happen,” he said.
“I’m an advocate of wider streets because of this problem,” Dantonio said. “It’s a ripple effect, and I don’t know what the answer is.”
Of those who spoke, it was said that residents in the subdivision were on both sides of the issue. One suggestion was to tear out the islands, which would cost an estimated $14,000.
Goodman and Gebhardt said they needed more information before they could make a decision on the matter, and many of those in the audience left shortly thereafter.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.