[ back ]
Benefits of Claridon rezoning questioned
Benefits of Claridon rezoning questioned
By JOSEPH KOZIOL JR.
Claridon Township residents continued Monday to question the need for a proposed commercial rezoning of properties.
About a half dozen residents turned out for a public hearing held by Township Trustees on the proposed rezoning, which primarily affects properties along Mayfield (Route 322) and Old State (Route 608) roads. Residents questioned whether the rezoning would change the rural character of the township and whether taxes from commercial development would benefit the schools.
Similar comments came from residents during a public hearing held in August by the township's zoning commission, which recommended the changes.
Trustees listened to residents but took no action on the matter.
Trustee David Brockway said trustees have until 20 days after the public hearing to act. They can accept, modify or reject the rezoning proposal.
Old State Road resident Douglas White said he moved from the city in 1990 to find the "country living" offered by the township. Now, he fears that development will encroach on that country living, he said. "Once you start something, where's the end to this?"
Mr. White said he lives only one-half mile south of Mayfield Road and that noise from the development would impact his property and its value.
Trudy Opalk, of Forest Road, said she became curious about how much commercial development actually adds to the tax base and checked with the Geauga County Treasurer's Office. What she found, she said, shocked her.
Tax records for an asphalt plant on Mayfield Road showed annual taxes of $2,600, a figure that was low compared to those of many residents, Mrs. Opalk said. "How much are we really going to get out of the commercial?"
She said she found similar low numbers for other industrial and commercial operations in the township. Based on those numbers, it doesn't seem that commercial development would actually benefit the township or the schools, she said.
"Why put more noise, traffic, stink and dirt next to my house?" she asked.
Mr. Brockway said he also was surprised by the numbers and would check with Geauga County Auditor Tracy Jemison to learn why they appear to be low.
Ann Larson-White, a Old State Road resident, questioned why so much land is being considered for rezoning at this time. She said it appears that existing commercial land in Claridon remains vacant, while the township is adding more.
Anne Clouser, an alternate member of the zoning commission, said the commission initially was asked by the Geauga County planning commission to correct inconsistencies between legal descriptions of properties in commercial areas and the township's zoning map.
She said, while making those corrections, the commission considered the township's long-term goals. One of those goals is to control development that is inevitable for the township, she said. "We wanted it to be controlled and not accidental." Rezoning based on lot lines, rather than specific distances from road rights of way, are an attempt to bring a more orderly semblance to the commercial areas, she said.
Mrs. Larson-White asked why the township did not try to implement the rezoning in phases, rather than such a big change. She said officials could then gauge its success and decide whether more is needed.
Ms. Clouser said zoning changes involve considerable time and money, and officials believe that handling it all at once saves the township money. "It's not a cheap process," she said.
Mrs. Larson-White asked whether such a large rezoning should be decided by the residents who live there. "Is it possible to put it to a vote?" she asked.
Trustee Mary Briggs said residents could bring a referendum petition to challenge the trustees' decision on the matter. She said they would need to gather signatures from 15 percent of the voters in the last gubernatorial election.
Phillip Adams, who owns three parcels along Mayfield Road that would be rezoned, asked whether the properties could still be used for residences if the rezoning is approved. He said he's not necessarily opposed to the rezoning, but he wants reassurance for his properties. In the Burton community, he said, land that was rezoned for commercial was no longer allowed to be used for residences.
Timothy Healy, chairman of the zoning commission, said the properties could continue to be used for residences.
Residents also questioned whether the township went far enough in notifying residents.
Mr. White said residents on Mayfield and Old State roads would be affected by the rezonings, yet only residents immediately adjacent to the affected properties were personally notified.
Mr. Brockway said the zoning commission advertised and held two public hearings on the matter. He said residents should have been aware of those hearings and attended to make their comments when the process was still in the formative stage. "You should have come months ago," he said. "Is it our fault you didn't see it?"
[ back ]