Berlin Township residents viewed the latest drawings and weighed in on the latest plans for the proposed Berlin Business Park at a special hearing Wednesday.
Due to the high turnout, the meeting was held at Grace Point Community Church instead of the township hall.
The Berlin Township Zoning Commission is considering two zoning applications to apply a commercial and an industrial overlay to the sites. The industrial overlay would be roughly along US 36/SR 37 and parts of Baker, Curve, Lackey Old State, Plunkett and Sweeney roads. The commercial overlay would be roughly along 36/37 up to the Brown/Berlin township border, and include parts of Africa, Big Run, Dunham, North Old State and 3 Bs and K roads.
An overlay is a regulatory tool that creates a special zoning district over the existing zoned property, giving more detail on permitted developments. Property owners are being given the option to enact the overlay now and in the future during the rezoning process.
“Berlin Township, Delaware County, and the Delaware County Finance Authority are trying to reposition land for professional office, medical, commercial, light industrial, and commercial residential uses to stabilize and bolster the local tax base, lighten the burden on the local school district due to residential development, and guide responsible development within Berlin Township,” states a fact sheet issued by the township. The school district refers to Olentangy Local Schools.
“If the corridor is not controlled by us, it will be controlled by someone else,” Ray Armstrong of the Zoning Commission told residents. “You will not have a say.”
To the west of the township, the city of Delaware has already annexed into parts of Berlin; and to the east, Sunbury has annexed up to the Berlin/Berkshire line. Berlin, which includes the majority of Alum Creek Reservoir, is in between. Although it has not been specified, there have been inquiries about development in Berlin.
Rob Platte, economic development administrator for Delaware County, gave a brief presentation on changes to the overlays, which included buffer zones for residents. Platte and Delaware County Economic Development Director Bob Lamb then heard comments and fielded questions from 18 residents.
The comments ranged from concerns over additional residents and businesses (specifically trucking, along with research and development) altering the pastoral tranquility of Berlin, to thanking the commission and the county for their assistance.
“Please protect us residents and keep the beauty,” said one resident. Another said, “Preserve the dignity and integrity of our neighborhood.”
Lamb said that as part of the process, the commission could appoint a five-member board (one of whom would be an architect or engineer) to issue design guidelines which would retain Berlin’s rural charm and prevent it from looking like “a 1960s industrial park.”
No action was taken. Zoning officials thanked the residents for their input and after 90 minutes, tabled the legislation and continued the hearing to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3, also at Grace Point, 2393 Peachblow Road, Lewis Center.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.