The area highlighted in red above is the site of a proposed barley malting operation discussed at Monday night’s Marysville City Council meeting. It is up for rezoning from light to heavy manufacturing and nearby residents are concerned about what could possibly locate on the property in the future.
The second reading of a zoning change that would pave the way for a malting plant saw some passionate debate at Monday night’s Marysville City Council meeting.
City Planner Chad Flowers went over the application for council. The applicant, Ohio Crafted Malt House, LLC, wants to put a barley malting facility on a portion of land between Weaver Road and Industrial Parkway. Since the city code requires these plants to reside within a heavy manufacturing (M-2) district, the company is asking the city to rezone the land from light manufacturing (M-1) into M-2.
Flowers said the property’s proximity to a rail line and other industrial areas makes it “really good for potential heavy manufacturing.” He said it also has potential to connect to Weaver Road or Industrial Parkway.
Darby Township Trustee Dennis Blumenshein and Paris Township Trustee Tony Eufinger both expressed concern at the proposed rezoning.
The Paris Township trustees drafted a letter that Eufinger gave council. He said no one on the township board is against the development, though there are concerns. The primary concern, he said, was that the rezoning would eliminate a buffer zone between the heavier manufacturing zone and the residences on Weaver Road.
“It would open the door for either this developer or other developers to put in some facilities that would alter the landscape of this community rather drastically,” he said. “It’s not about this applicant, it’s about any applicant that could make use of M-2 zoning.”
He noted that M-2 could include heavy construction, textile mille, leather tannery or even oil refineries. He noted that the city has made changes to its zoning code in recent years to prevent industry to come in next door to residential areas.
Eufinger’s remarks mirrored the discussion’s trend away from concerns around the plant’s smell, an issue talked about in previous meetings, and more toward the implication of the rezoning itself.
Eufinger suggested rezoning only a portion of the land into M-2. The city could leave the westernmost portion of the property M-1, preserving a portion of the buffer. Since the applicant only needs around 40 of the 286 acres to be M-2 for its malting facility, it could still come into the city.
Councilperson Tracy Richardson agreed, and said much of the discussion should be centered around whether or not the entire plot needs to be rezoned.
Blumenshein said residents in his township asked him to come to the meeting, and said they more or less agree with the sentiment in Eufinger’s letter.
Eufinger also expressed concern about the environmental impact to the property, citing worries over odor, harm to the water table and noise pollution.
“These are regardless of whether it’s a malting facility or anything else that could fall under the M-2 umbrella,” he said.
In closing his remarks, Eufinger said while all the concerns he voiced stood, he wanted residents of Weaver Road to understand that they chose to build near an industrial part of town.
“This was always something that was bound to happen,” he said. “But at the same time, we’d like to see some compromise.”
Much of the night was a rapid-fire series of residents coming before council to give their opinions on the application.
Joe Brzozowski, of Adena Pointe Drive, said while that area was always deemed to be industrial, extensive residential development has occurred nearby. He asked individual council members to consider the lives of residents throughout the city, not just the ward that elected them to office.
“Before you got elected, you were like each and every one of us here,” he said. “And I hope the city of Marysville doesn’t become like a lot of it.”
Brzozowski said that at the last council meeting, Flowers said the cities he contacted that already have malting plants said if they could do anything differently, they’d put the facility on the outskirts of town.
Councilperson Nevin Taylor clarified that for two of those cities the problem was traffic, which the city has been discussing. Mayor J.R. Rausch noted that by definition, the proposed site is, in fact, on the outskirts of Marysville.
Taylor asked Victor Thorne, speaking for the applicant, when council could get a definitive answer on how they plan on handling traffic.
“I would feel very good in two weeks if you could say, ‘hey, we know traffic-wise, we know where we’re going,’” Taylor said.
Taylor also said he doesn’t believe connecting to Weaver Road is going to be an option. Thorne said he could try getting a response by the next council meeting.
Ryan Lee, of Waldo Road, supported the development. He said he understands the fear of the unknown, but doesn’t believe the effect will be as bad as some Weaver Road residents think it will. He said in speaking to a farmer who does this type of malting on a small scale, the smell would be nothing like larger malting or brewing facilities like the Anheuser-Busch plant near Columbus.
He also said wheat had been in decline, and barley would be a forward-thinking alternative.
Weaver Road resident Wayne Lowry accused the developer of attempting a land grab. He said there’s no guarantee the developer is going to actually build anything, which would leave a large plot of land that is now M-2 that could be sold to more disruptive developers. He said the applicant wanted to get an M-2 property at M-1 prices.
“If it was such a great idea, there would be a lot of people doing it already,” he said. “Due to their business plan being so lacking in detail, I personally think this is nothing more than a real estate venture.”
Lowry said in his own research, buyers aren’t willing to buy malted barley at nearly the rates the applicant claims. Mayor J.R. Rausch interjected and said the application was for rezoning a piece of land; the company’s business plan had no bearing on the discussion.
Thorne stressed that they are in the business on agriculture, and said the land in question is exceptionally fertile. He said if they can grow their own materials on-site, that would be the best-case scenario.
Meadowlark Lane resident Katie Krocco noted that earlier in the application process, the applicant told the city’s planning commission they would keep the property M-1 if they could, but the city’s code requires malting facilities to be within an M-2 area.
“If they could leave it M-1, they would,” she said.
The final reading of the application will be at the Oct. 23 council meeting.
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