JT debates local property

A  Hoover Road property owner’s hopes to rezone a rental parcel from rural residential to community service commercial for a car repair business faced an uphill battle and was ultimately nixed by Jackson Township Trustees.

Kenneth Snyder Sr. bought the property in 1978 and is renting it to an individual currently living in the home and operating an auto repair operation out of a detached, 1960s-era garage located on the one-and-a-half acre site.

Township Administrator Mike Lilly said half of the property is within a 100-year floodplain and the applicant was seeking rezoning to legitimize the existing business, which is not allowed under present zoning regulations. A public hearing, attended by nearby residents and representatives of a neighboring cemetery opposing the rezoning, was held on Oct. 28 during the regular trustees’ meeting.

On Sept. 10, the Franklin County Planning Commission unanimously denied the re-zoning application. On Oct. 6, the Jackson Township Zoning Commission also unanimously turned down the request.

"This all started back in January with complaints," said Lilly during a presentation. "The conditional use request was denied and it then went to the environmental court. The property is surrounded by the city and there is an adjacent cemetery.

"There is no screening from the auto repair. A Dumpster was overflowing and parts were stacked outside. The violations first started in winter and were much worse in February before the property owner took efforts to clean it up this summer."

Lilly said the township is concerned the property continues to be in non-compliance with the present zoning code and the existing garage, where the bulk of auto repair takes place, does not meet commercial building and fire safety codes.

Fire Chief Lloyd Sheets said the township normally receives a plan of what is proposed for a site before it is up for rezoning and then works with a developer on safety issues.

The chief felt emergency access into the garage is also a concern with the large number of vehicles parked in front of the building.

In a letter entered into the public proceedings, a funeral director reported noise from the auto repair business is affecting funeral services held in the cemetery next to Snyder’s property.

"There is a problem with noise and odor," said Tom Miller, president of the Concord Cemetery Association. "If you allow this to become a commercial property, and if he decides to give it up, we’re stuck with the zoning on that property and we’ll have to start the fight all over again.

"There hasn’t been a lot of respect to the people interred there and people don’t want to buy lots against that side of the property."

Trustee Bill Lotz visited the Hoover Road residential site prior to the meeting and reported 14 cars were sitting outside the garage at 5:30 p.m.

"Even if it was commercial, we wouldn’t put up with what was down there today," added Chairman David Burris. "You (Snyder) are welcome to come back with a development plan at a later date."

In other news

•Lilly reported the township was reimbursed by the federal government for overtime and salt used to battle a March snowstorm. Over $10,000 was received by Jackson Township – representing 80 percent of the total clean-up cost – was transferred back into the road and bridge fund.

"The county is now working on getting funding for reimbursement for the Sept. 14 windstorm," said Lilly.

•Fire department volunteer Duane Kesterson was recognized for his service to the township with a proclamation, in addition to being named an honorary firefighter and given the same badge number as the one worn by his late father. Oct. 28 was also proclaimed as "Duane Kesterson Day in Jackson Township."

Kesterson was hospitalized at the time and unable to attend the ceremony.

"Duane is one of those guys you love to have around," said Chief Sheets. "He’s been an inspiration to many people."

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