Jerome Township Trustees are still undecided as to how to move forward with the Pioneer Crossing development.
The application to rezone approximately 111 acres to PD (planned development) on the southeasterly side of U.S. 42 will create a development of 188 single-family units.
The initial Dec. 17 public hearing was continued to Tuesday night after the board gave the applicant what Zoning Inspector Eric Snowden called “homework.”
Trustee Joe Craft asked the applicant to provide four things: documentation from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), information from Jonathan Alder Local Schools, additional comments from Jerome Township Fire Chief Douglas Stewart and updated results from a Traffic Impact Study,.
Molly Gwin, an attorney representing the applicant, said township officials were provided each of these items.
She explained that ODOT provided written confirmation that there are no plans to widen U.S. 42 along the proposed Pioneer Crossing development. Additionally, she said ODOT indicated the existing speed limits are appropriate and there are no plans to reduce them.
Gwin said Jonathan Alder Superintendent Gary Chapman indicated the development will have an impact that is “neither positive or negative” on area schools.
She said taxes from the development will generate 51% of the cost to educate each student, compared to the average of 30% from other developments.
A letter from Stewart described the right-in, right-out entrance to the development as “not preferred, but a temporary alternative.”
He said the studies indicate the access point is large enough to allow emergency vehicle entry, so he is comfortable with allowing the plan.
Furthermore, he said future plans to extend Brock Road fit in with the county thoroughfare plan.
In regard to the Traffic Impact Study, Gwin said Bill Narducci, on behalf of the Union County Engineer’s Office, said he had no additional comments or objections. However, the applicant has only preliminary results from ODOT and is waiting for additional comments.
Although each of these items were provided, trustees said the information was not received until several hours before the public hearing. Each trustee agreed there was not enough time to review the documents in a thorough manner.
As a result, the public hearing was again continued to Jan. 21 at 7 p.m.
In other business:
– Trustees approved a notice of intervention regarding the “Marysville Connector,” a proposed 4.78-mile natural gas pipeline.
Columbia Gas applied in December for an accelerated certificate to construct the 12-inch main. The pipeline would begin at Watkins-California Road between U.S. 42 and Derio Road, ending on Industrial Parkway.
Thayne Gray of the Union County Prosecutor’s Office said Jerome Township has a right to intervene in the matter because the pipeline will go through the area.
He explained intervention as “a legal way for someone to stick their nose in somebody else’s business, but because that business has a direct impact on their interests.”
Gray clarified that intervention isn’t necessarily opposition, but will provide the township an opportunity to participate in the Ohio Power Sitting Board case.
Gray said Jerome Township officials have indicated interest in intervention since Fire Chief Doug Stewart has been sitting in on recent Ohio Gas Access Partnership, Inc. (OGAP) meetings. OGAP is a group of entities in Union, Madison, Logan, Franklin counties that seeks long-term regional solutions to current natural gas concerns.
At the meetings, Gray said Stewart recognized that the area around Jerome Township is facing a “gas supply crunch,” since current distribution lines were placed in the 1960s.
Gray said the Union County Commissioners don’t feel they have enough information to proceed. The group approved a resolution to file a notice of intervention on Dec. 31.
He said they are intervening because they want to ensure the Marysville Connector will be beneficial “for a number of years, not just five years.”
Commissioners are also concerned the connector pipeline won’t “be enough” to benefit surrounding communities, Gray said.
He said there are also questions, based on the wording in Columbia Gas’ application, as to who will be obligated to pay for certain parts of the project.
Stewart agreed with the concerns expressed at the county level.
He said intervention will give the township a change to ensure the connector pipeline is a sustainable solution. At the time, he said he isn’t positive the pipeline will “get us through the next five years, let alone 10-20.”
“For any community to be able to grow and partner with other communities, we need to have a long-term plan,” he said.
Stewart also emphasized the importance of considering how the project could affect neighboring communities.
“We need to look at the bigger picture and not put blinders on,” he said.
Trustees voted unanimously to approve the notice of intervention.
“This does not say we’re opposed, it just gives us a seat at the table and allows us to ask questions,” Stewart clarified.
– Trustees approved Joe Craft to act as Chairman and C.J. Lovejoy as Vice Chairman during 2020. Trustees meetings will remain on every first and third Tuesday at 7 p.m.
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