By Linda Dillman
A pair of empty seats on the Planning and Zoning Commission are now filled after new recommendations from Mayor Mike Ebert were approved by Canal Winchester City Council.
Rick Deeds and Deborah McDonnell were named to the commission to serve a four-year term ending on Dec. 31, 2025.
“Rick has been a resident since 1987,” said Ebert. “He’s been a member of council for 15 to 16 years. He and his wife have been active in various organizations from PTO to Labor Day. A good person. That’s why the recommendation.”
The vote to approve the Deeds nomination was 6-1 with Councilwoman Jill Amos abstaining. The vote to approve McDonnell was unanimous.
“Deborah has lived here about two years,” said Ebert. “She’s been active in communities where she’s lived from being a development director for 10 years in a village in New York state and a city manager in both Ohio and New York for the past 15 years. She said she wanted to get involved with the city and this is an opportunity for her to do that.”
Before voting on the mayor’s recommendations, Amos asked Ebert if any other candidates were called. Ebert said he did not after reaching out to both of them first and both indicating interest.
Resident Angie Halstead called council out for the proliferation of warehouse development in the city, especially during a pandemic when she alleges it was difficult for citizens to respond.
“You created this mess that is happening right now,” said Halstead. “We’re upset. We’ve talked and we’ve told you how we feel. This just keeps going. Nobody is slowing down. I don’t understand what we have to do. This is our town. We hired you to do what’s best for your citizens. It just does not feel like it at all; that you’re listening. We’re watching. We research what’s going on and we’re going to keep coming up. We’re going to keep speaking and we’re going to keep fighting to save our town.”
Council approved ordinances by a slim margin for a pre-annexation and development agreements for property along Basil-Western Road where the developer proposed a pair of warehouses.
Council members Amos, Laurie Amick and Ashley Ward voted against the ordinances while Council President Chuck Milliken, Vice President Bob Clark, Patrick Shea and Mike Walker voted for the agreements.
The vote could be a moot point if project developers shift their focus to Violet Township.
“I spoke with the development representative,” said Canal Winchester Development Director Lucas Haire. “They have met with Fairfield County and Violet Township and they’re already looking at heading in that direction. They didn’t feel they were warmly received at the last meeting (with the city). They didn’t think it would be worth their time to be with us tonight.”
Amos said she thinks they might not have felt well received because council wondered about their lack of a presentation.
Ward noted residents also spoke out against warehouses and she felt considering their opinion was an important factor in making decisions on future developments.
However, citing a recently approved development agreement as an analogy, Clark challenged the opposition.
“I don’t see how you can vote against the Bixby Road project when you know they’re going to get built and we’re just screwing the citizens, schools, and taxpayers of this community out of that revenue,” said Clark.