Board of Elections reviewing CW citizen referendum petition

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By Rick Palsgrove
Managing Editor

The Franklin County Board of Elections is reviewing the signatures on a Canal Winchester citizens’ referendum petition.

“We received a referendum petition from Canal Winchester today (March 2) on a zoning ordinance. It has 32 parts with 634 signatures. We have 10 days to review the signatures,” said Jeff Mackey, manager of petitions and campaign finance for the Franklin County Board of Elections.

The city of Canal Winchester originally received the citizen referendum petition on Feb. 17.

The referendum seeks to stop a pair of warehouses from being developed by Northpoint at Bixby and Rager roads.

Members of the Canal Winchester for Smart Growth organization spearheaded the referendum that, if approved by the Franklin County Board of Elections, would place legislation, passed in January by Canal Winchester City Council, before voters in November.

The referendum is in response to an ordinance rezoning 70.6 acres of land owned by members of the Schacht family from rural to limited manufacturing. Northpoint wants to construct a pair of warehouses to compliment two already located in their Canal Crossing development.

The city of Canal Winchester was required to keep the petitions on hand for public inspection for at least 10 days from the date of receipt before forwarding them to the Franklin County Board of Elections.

According to Franklin County Board of Elections Public Information Officer Aaron Sellers said there were 4,292 votes cast for governor at the 2018 general election in Canal Winchester. He said 10 percent of that is 430 signatures, which is the number of valid signatures required for the referendum petition. The board of elections must examine the signatures and return the petition to the city within 10 days of receipt with a statement attesting to the number of voters who signed the petition. If the number of valid signatures is sufficient and the petition is otherwise valid, the city must certify the sufficiency and validity of the petition back to the board of elections.

If all is approved, the referendum would appear on the November ballot.

If the petitioners are successful in filing their petition for the referendum—and due to a pre-annexation agreement passed by the council on Sept. 7, 2021—the property owner can request that council detach the property from the city and reverse a recently approved annexation. The property would then revert back to unincorporated territory in Madison Township and the owners could pursue an agreement with a different entity, if so desired.

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