Planning for the future takes a lot of work in the present and members of a Jackson Township comprehensive plan steering committee are also using the past as a tool in setting goals and objectives for the group.
During a July 27 meeting, Franklin County Economic Development and Planning Department Planner Scott Fulton shared results of a recent public meeting with members of the steering committee, along with a draft of the first chapter of the comprehensive plan – a brief history of Jackson Township.
"From the results of the survey and ice cream social, there are some clearly defined issues," Fulton reported.
Common items of interest to those attending the social were to preserve the township as is with no annexation, maintain or improve the current level of service, and keep well and septic available in the township. Residents also wanted to maintain a "small town" atmosphere, maintain or expand open spaces and farms, keep large lots and rural character, increase park space, and encourage mini farms.
"People said they’d like to maintain the option of maintaining their own well and septic system instead of being forced into tapping into public lines," said Fulton. "There are also farmland preservation grants I’m looking into, but the farmer is the one who has to apply.
Instead of selling farmland for development, the grants are used as a motivation to preserve the land."
When the discussion turned to areas in which residents felt a need for change, the top three, as presented at the social, were improved zoning enforcement, city water without city annexation, and improved water drainage. Interest was also high in a two-acre minimum lot size, no warehouses, traffic studies for State Routes 104 and 665 and US Route 62, improved utility services, and the control of quarry and mining operations.
"That was the number one thing that people wanted to change – to improve zoning improvements," reported the county planner.
Fulton said many of the comments regarding zoning were related to property maintenance and junk automobiles. Township Administrator Mike Lilly told committee members his office is prepared to help residents resolve situations regarding junk cars and other nuisance issues.
"We have to educate the people in the township to let them know if they have a complaint, they can call us," stated Lilly.
The first step would include a letter from the township. Lilly said residents usually take care of the problem, but if they don’t, the township sends out a second letter followed by a final notice before the action.
"There’s been a change in the Ohio Revised Code and we can now go on private property to remove a vehicle. A junk car is defined as one that is unlicensed or inoperable if it’s in the public view," said Lilly.
He added, "Most people get the first letter, say they’re sorry, and take care of it."
Fulton said committee members will work on goals and objectives, but they also might want to study the township’s zoning code and consider ways to educate the public.
"We need to let the people know," remarked committee member Ron Cooper, "that we’re not here to restrict you with zoning codes, but to protect you."
Steering committee meetings are held the last Monday of the month at the Jackson Township Administration Building, except for December. A public hearing on the plan is scheduled for Jan. 25, 2010.