Lake Twp.: Zoning issue in hands of residents

Larry Limpf

News Editor

A local zoning issue that went before the Ohio Supreme Court will be decided Tuesday by voters in the unincorporated area of Lake Township.
Whether or not a 1.34-acre parcel with a recently attained B-2 commercial zoning classification should revert back to an R-2 classification is on the ballot after being argued before the township trustees, township zoning commission, Wood County Planning Commission, Wood County Board of Elections, and the Supreme Court.
A no vote will undo a decision by the trustees to change the zoning. If the ballot measure is approved by voters, Ted Thomas, the parcel owner, can proceed with plans to install self-storage units on his property along Bailey Road, a dead-end residential street off Woodville Road.
After the trustees approved Thomas’ zoning request, Bailey residents mobilized a petition drive to have the issue placed on the ballot as a referendum, garnering nearly 400 signatures.
Their efforts survived a challenge by Thomas and the trustees to block the referendum after favorable decisions by the elections board and Supreme Court.
Thomas last week said his plans for the site would be an improvement. A white privacy fence, eight feet high, would flank the property on three sides. Access to the site is only permitted from Woodville Road.
Thomas said he also plans to pave the facility to eliminate dust. Lighting would face away from adjacent residences and be directed down on the storage units. Pine trees would be planted between Bailey and rear portion of the privacy fence.
There would be 168 storage units: 57 would be 10 feet by 10 feet; 72 would be 10 feet by 15 feet, and 39 would be 10 feet by 20 feet. The unit walls would be eight feet high.
“This is one of the quietest businesses there is. People put their storage stuff in and then don’t come back for months at a time. We’re not going to be a 24-hour facility. You will have to be in there before 9 p.m. and it won’t reopen until 7 a.m. There will be a push button code to get in,” he said. “This is all with the understanding the property will be replatted with the front property (where a car wash he owns is located). That is required by the township. They’ve put stipulations into the B-2 zoning. They’re not just going to hand me a building permit. It all has to be approved by them. If the zoning passes it’s getting storage units, it’s not getting anything else.
There is now a chain-link fence on three sides of the property. A chain-link gate faces the Bailey Road side.
“It was a junk yard. We’ve been pulling car frames out of the ground along with piles of fencing and concrete and there is a lot more debris to be removed,” Thomas said. “It’s been a dumping yard for 30 years; since it closed. The reason it wasn’t zoned for commercial use after the junk yard is zoning came in after the junk yard was already there. They grandfathered it in until the owner died and wouldn’t let the wife keep running it as a commercial property.’
But for Bailey residents the road is an idyllic place that should remain free of commercial businesses. They describe it a peaceful, safe setting – ideal for raising children and enjoying natural areas.
To some residents, the decision by the trustees results in “spot zoning” and could happen elsewhere if not stopped at Bailey Road.
They point to the non-binding decision of the Wood County Planning Commission, which voted to recommend the township trustees deny the change in zoning, as evidence the zoning change is misguided.
Thomas, on the other hand, said he wasn’t even notified of the plan commission meeting.
“We didn’t have a chance to tell them what we wanted to do or anything,” he said.


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