Lights out in Jackson Township

The Jackson Township Fire Department averages 20 calls a day, but Fire Chief Lloyd Sheets reported the department received 139 on top of that number on Sept. 14 when hurricane force wind gusts blew through central Ohio.

According to the chief, at one point 40 percent of Grove City was without power, 10 to 20 percent of Jackson Township was in the dark, and the biggest problem in Urbancrest was downed trees.

"There is still a mess out there," said Trustee Chairman David Burris, "and for the next 30 days, township residents can drag downed brush out to the street and road crews will pick it up. I know this is difficult for some of our residents to do, but there’s too much liability for us to go on private property."

Tree limbs up to 12-inches in diameter can be picked up by township crews.

Jackson Pike annexation

Burris is a man on a mission.

He, along with fellow trustees Bill Lotz and Steve Bowshier, are opposing annexation of land, currently used by the Jones Company for a topsoil operation on Jackson Pike, into Columbus in order to convert the area into a gravel quarry.

In a resolution unanimously passed by the board and read into the record by Burris on Sept. 16, the township is opposing the possible annexation and rezoning for the following reasons:

•Unincorporated land along Jackson Pike is low-density rural, residential, and agricultural and a gravel quarry in close proximity to residential use would be a public nuisance negatively affecting the health, safety, and welfare of the community.

•Traffic problems would be exacerbated on an already heavily traveled roadway. According to Burris, a dump truck traveling on the same stretch of roadway already resulted in the death of a motorist. In addition, trucks entering and leaving the quarry would generate mud dust and other problems for the community.

•The quarry is inconsistent with the township’s long range Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Such use was already rejected by the Franklin County Planning Commission and the Jackson Township Zoning Commission in 2007.

•The natural habitat along Jackson Pike would be endangered, the quarry could potentially lower the watershed and impact properties dependent on well water, and potential fuel leaks or other contaminants could be released into the watershed and cause environmental problems.

•Existing businesses, along Jackson Pike, would be negatively impacted and could be forced to relocate elsewhere, jeopardizing the tax resource base of both the township and Grove City.

"The land is now a topsoil business and has been for at about 20 years," reported township Administrator Mike Lilly. "We’re fine with the topsoil business and think it’s a good use, but we disagree with turning it into a gravel quarry."

Lilly told trustees that representatives of a nearby auto auction on Jackson Pike said a gravel quarry would be devastating to their business and they might have to pull their operation out of the area, resulting in the loss of a tax base of 400 employees.

"I can’t be anymore strong or concerned about this," emphasized Burris, who also said Columbus cannot adequately service the area with water, sewer, and emergency services.

"This is totally uncalled for. It would be worse than the landfill and we’ll do anything to stop it.

"This is a perfect example of them not getting their way, so they want to get Columbus to bail them out."

New employees

During the regular meeting, the trustees approved hiring a trio of part-time fire fighters and promoting Scott Bowyer to lieutenant.

Bowyer was hired as a full-time firefighter in 1994 and was certified as a paramedic five years later. In 2001, he became a fire investigator and, in 2002, Bowyer was certified as a rescue technician for the Central Ohio Strike team. He received the department’s Medal of Merit in 2003 and the Fire Chief’s Award in 2005.

New to the Jackson Township Fire Department are Christopher Barnes, who is married with two children, works as a technician in the emergency department at Mt. Carmel West, and is attending paramedic school; Kyle Blamble, a recently married paramedic who is employed by 1st Advanced Transportation; and Matt Headlee, who is married with three children, formerly employed in the corporate world, and also attending paramedic school.

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