Jackson Twp. annexation case ongoing

The Jones Topsoil and Fuel Company has been in discussions with numerous local governmental entities regarding the expansion of their topsoil business to include the removal of sand and gravel for several years.

The talks surrounding this issue have been going on for over two years, and based on the Dec. 8 Jackson Township Board of Trustees meeting, they will continue for quite some time.

"This gravel quarry discussion is a long way from being over," said Trustee William Lotz. "We’ve talked to them for a long time and we’ve never really been sold on their proposal."

It started in 2006 when there was a proposal by the Shelly Company to extract gravel from the Jones parcel located on State Route 104.

In 2007, the Shelly Company and the Jones Topsoil Company filed a rezoning application for the excavation and quarry district for removal of sand and gravel of 76 acres of land along the Scioto River and South of Interstate 270 in the northeastern part of Jackson Township. The Franklin County Zoning Commission approved their rezoning application, but Jackson Township and the Grove City Council did not.

While the Shelly Company dropped out of the picture, the Jones Fuel Company went ahead with their plans and sought out the approval from the Southwest Area Commission to annex the property to the city of Columbus in May 2008. The idea was that when the Jones Company has finished their excavation operations, they would convert it into a lake and turn it over to the city of Columbus, who would then have the option to turn the land into a public park and recreation area.

The commission members unanimously opposed it, so the Jones Company went back to Jackson Township to address the concerns from trustees and residents. At the meeting, attendees expressed a lot of them.

The two biggest issues were the safety due to increased traffic from the approximate 100 trucks per day coming and going into the site, and the potential dust emissions that could affect not only the local environment, but also the businesses of Manheim’s Ohio Mobile Auction Services and the Herlihy Moving and Storage Inc. Both are located down the road from the quarry site on Jackson Pike.

The Ohio Auto Auction employs 400 people and generates $46 million per year for the area. The company’s legal counsel, James Chester, of Chester Willcox and Saxbe, said the potential dust emissions could coat the cars and keeping them clean would be a monumental task.

"That would be extremely disastrous for auctions and they would have no qualms about pulling out of the area if they feel it would negatively impact their business," he said.

James Herlihy likened washing vehicles coated with dust to a "chocolate milkshake." He said the potential emissions would require additional expenses for the moving and storage company to keep everything clean.

Dave Jones said this would be a "wet operation," meaning no dust would be generated. He added they would put in a wheel wash (a pressurized water jet that cleans the wheels on the trucks) so no additional dirt would coat the streets.

"We haven’t had any complaints about dust before, so I don’t think it would be a problem," Jones said.

He also stated that they have never heard complaints about truck traffic before when Jackson Township Trustee Stephen Bowshier brought that topic under discussion.
Township Chairman David Burris said he does not want to see dump trucks on Stringtown Road as they have worked too hard to make that area attractive for businesses, and he would not approve anything from the Jones Company without the installment of a right turn only lane on Stringtown Road.

"About 70 to 80 percent of our trucks would head north," said Jones. "The only reason our trucks would ever be on Stringtown Road is if we had to make a delivery."

Burris requested the talks on the sand and gravel quarry be tabled until all parties (The Jones Fuel Company, Manheim’s Auto Auction, Herlihy Moving and Storage) can sit down and further discuss options (such as hiring an independent air consultant for inspections on the quarry).

"They have to show us what they are really going to do and that it will not have an adverse effect on this community," said Lotz. "It’s up to them to show us the benefit it would bring to our community."



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