By Linda Dillman
Legislation proposed by a Canal Winchester City Councilman Patrick Shea could breathe life into a rezoning of property owned by the Schacht family, with a two-prong approach and sidestepping a referendum on the fall ballot.
Shea’s proposed ordinance to repeal the original rezoning—which garnered over 600 signatures earlier this year in opposition on a ballot petition organized by Canal Winchester for Smart Growth that stopped the original legislation in its tracks—was up for consideration on the April 18 council work session agenda.
The new ordinance would amend the city’s zoning for the same acreage in the same location at Bixby and Rager roads owned by the same people—Teresa and Dale Schacht, Norma Jean Schacht Trust—from Exceptional Use to Planned Industrial District and declare an emergency.
“This ordinance was prepared as directed by Councilman Shea,” said Development Director Lucas Haire. “The plan associated with this is the plan presented to council.”
City Law Director Jesse Shamp said the change in zoning to Planned Industrial District would essentially moot the referendum and emergency legislation is not subject to a referendum.
Up for a second reading on the regular council agenda was the detachment of the Schacht property from the city in order to proceed with the development with another entity, most likely Columbus. The detachment would also render the referendum moot.
Before moving to table ordinance 22-016 until the next council meeting, Shea said, “I personally take offense to the rhetoric of taking away rights. We’re in a very tricky situation. Our city loses the opportunity to block Columbus out.”
In written comments submitted to council before the meeting, CW for Smart Growth organizer Angie Halstead wrote, “I’d like to address the end of the last council meeting where an apparent plan to kill democracy pursued between (city council members) Mr. Clark and Mr. Shea…Democracy is defined as government by the people, especially rule of the majority. We followed a democratic process – one that is in place for a reason. We gathered 635 signatures in 18 days in the middle of an ice storm and the coldest month of the year…The people of Canal Winchester deserve a say in what we want – this is called democracy. No one knows what will happen, yet the rhetoric of Columbus will take this land continues. This behavior is beyond words. The actions of some council never cease to amaze. Disappointed is an understatement.”
During the regular council meeting, Canal Winchester Schools Treasurer Nick Roberts said if the Schacht property is detached from the city, it opens up the door for Columbus to annex it, with revenue going to the capitol city and not Canal Winchester.
“I know it’s speculative, but I think they will do that,” said Roberts. “They have no reason not to. We support the city council to take any action necessary to prevent the detachment of the property located at Bixby and Rager Roads.”
Canal Winchester Schools Superintendent James Sotlar said the land is not only important to the school district, but also to the community for future growth and development. He said it is important to look at all of the facts from all sides.
Labor Day Festival finances
Labor Day Committee Chairperson Carolyn Ebert discussed the financial situation facing the 2022 celebration and asked for additional financial support from the city.
The cost to put on the annual three-day festival is approximately $79,000 and includes stage entertainment, parade bands, electricity, etc.
However, part of a carryover from the last in-person festival was used in 2021 to stage the Hometown Day celebration and the committee is having difficulty finding sponsors—even those who previously participated in the Labor Day Festival, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
“A lot of these things people don’t think about,” said Ebert. “It takes quite a bit to put this thing on. We normally start our balance at $45,000. Hometown Day ate up a lot of that carryover. We spent close to $30,000 on Hometown.”
While no decision was made during the council meeting, members voiced their support of the Labor Day Festival. Canal Winchester Finance Director Amanda Jackson reported, as of the end of March, there was $225,000 in the city’s Bed Tax Fund.
“I’m fully supportive,” said Councilman Mike Walker. “The money is there.”
Council Vice President Bob Clark suggested, “Let’s start with $30,000 and get things rolling.”