Lake Twp:. Zoning referendum appears headed to court

Larry Limpf

News Editor

The Wood County Board of Elections has upheld its earlier decision to allow a Lake Township zoning referendum issue on the March 19 ballot.
The board’s decision provides a chance for residents to override a decision last year by the township zoning commission and trustees that approved rezoning a parcel along Bailey Road from R-2 residential district to B-2 general business district.
The board of election’s unanimous decision Tuesday followed a protest filed by the township trustees and the parcel owner, Theodore Thomas, who has plans to install self-storage units on the property.
Thomas also owns adjacent property at 5826 Woodville Rd., where a car wash is located.
The protest, filed by Norman Abood, attorney for Thomas, challenged the board of election’s decision in December on several points. It contended the citizens’ ballot petition didn’t include the required number of signatures and the elections board has no discretion to waive the statutorily mandated signature requirement. It also argued there was a failure by the board to provide adequate public notice of the December meeting in which the board rendered its decision green lighting the ballot referendum.
Abood said Thursday he was preparing to file with the Ohio Supreme Court to challenge the elections board decision to allow the referendum on the ballot.
Richard Welling, a township trustee who voted in favor of the zoning change, said the trustees were also frustrated in how the elections board handled the initial petition hearing, saying there wasn’t adequate prior notice.
“None of us knew,” he said. “We didn’t know about it. Even Linda Holmes, an attorney with the county prosecutor’s office who would represent the township and the board of elections, didn’t know about it. I don’t know how they could authorize this to go forward.”
During the September meeting of the trustees, Thomas said he’s already cleared debris from the parcel in question, which, in the past, had been used as a junk yard before he assumed ownership. He also said the car wash property and the parcel would be combined to meet acreage requirements for B-2 zoning and there would be access to the proposed storage facility from Woodville Road but not from Bailey Road.
Joe Zemenski, a Bailey Road resident who helped with the citizens’ petition drive, noted the Wood County Planning Commission issued a recommendation to deny the zoning change prior to the trustees vote.
“The reason to deny the zoning resolution was already stated by the county and they recommended denial because it’s not a permitted use and it doesn’t fit,” he told the trustees during their September meeting. “There’s a sea of residential homes all around this.”


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