Zoning fee increases on the table in Jerome Township

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Certain zoning fees are likely to increase in Jerome Township, although trustees won’t vote on the matter until February.
During the most recent Board of Trustees meeting, Director of Departments Douglas Stewart said he has spoken with Zoning Inspector Eric Snowden regarding the current zoning fee schedule.
He said the two have specific concerns about the cost of variances and conditional use permits.
Residents currently pay $750 for an application for either of the two.
Stewart said the township is paying more, though, to review the applications than they are charging applicants to submit them.
“We’re not even breaking even,” he said.
He said reviewing variances and conditional use permits entails two Board of Zoning Appeals meetings.
There are five BZA members, who are each paid $75 per meeting, which totals $750 over both meetings.
Beyond that, he said Snowden and Zoning Clerk Anita Nicol are paid to be at the BZA meetings. Stewart said a court reporter is also typically paid $75 per hour to document the meetings.
Stewart said he has tasked Snowden with reviewing zoning fee schedules throughout Central Ohio, specifically “other progressive, fast-growing townships.”
He said the comparison will allow Jerome Township officials to “see what they’re charging and what our true costs are.”
Based on their research, Stewart said Snowden will provide the board with a “preliminary estimate” of changes in the zoning fee schedule.
Then, Stewart said he would like trustees to vote on any adjustments at the first meeting in February.
The trustees unanimously approved the current fee schedule, but said they said it is temporary, until they choose whether to implement changes based on Snowden’s recommendations.
In other business:
– The board elected Megan Sloat to serve as Chair in 2021 and C.J. Lovejoy as Vicechair.
– Each member of the Board of Trustees signed a letter supporting a project to extend the Heritage Trail to create the Kurt Tunnell Memorial Trail.
Union County plans to use state funding to help purchase 153 acres of former railroad bed to construct the 13.5 mile multi-use trail.
The trail would run the width of the county, beginning on Cemetery Pike in Plain City, Madison County, and ending in Woodstock, Champaign County. It would extend from the current 7 mile trail between Hilliard and Cemetery Pike.
Sloat said she felt the project would increase connectivity in the region and contribute to recreation options.
“I think it’s going to really improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists who want to utilize the area,” she said.
Tunnell was a long-time attorney and political advisor, as well as bicycling enthusiast. He was killed in 2019 after a vehicle hit him while he was cycling on Scioto Darby Road in Hilliard.
– Trustees set the date for the baseball lottery, during which interested users determine the dates and times they may rent the field at Harry Wolfe Park, for 6 p.m. March 3 at the township hall.
– Officials thanked Kermit Morse for his “many years of service on the zoning commission.”
Trustee Joe Craft said Morse was “a real asset” to the township and lamented their inability to host a party for him in light of COVID-19.
The trustees also unanimously appointed Tracey Guerin to the zoning commission for a five-year term from Jan. 1, 2021 until Dec. 31, 2025. Bill Milesky was re-appointed to serve on BZA for the same term.



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