The Franklin County Engineer's Office is a couple steps closer to securing land in Groveport that was once a landfill.
Groveport City Council approved a motion in July to waive $3,225 in fees associated with the Holton Ditch Habitat Restoration Project, which is designed to restore the natural landscaping and habitat of 71.5 acres at 4871 Hendron Road, just off of state Route 317 and adjoining the Franklin County Engineer's Office East Outpost.
The project also earned support Aug. 4 from the Groveport Planning and Zoning Commission, which recommended the city approve a conditional use zoning change from "landfill" to "green space preservation and materials storage."
A third reading and final vote on an ordinance authorizing the rezoning is scheduled at the Aug. 25 city council meeting.
Of the 71.5 acres slated to be restored, a 22-acre conservation easement was donated by the city, 6.5 acres were acquired from the Groveport Madison Christian Church and 43 acres were purchased from previous owner, Patricia Lewis, using a Clean Ohio Grant.
Lewis used the land to operate the Southeast Landfill.
The county's purchase of the property is intended to "restore and preserve in perpetuity the riparian corridor along Hendron (Holton) Ditch," according to county documents.
If a conditional use zoning change receives final city approval, the county has agreed to:
* Close the landfill and grade and stabilize the steep face to create a stable surface.
* Remove invasive species on 18.7 acres of the site, the conservation area donated by the city and the parcel acquired from the church.
* Plant native grasses on about 33 acres of the landfill site and the parcel acquired from the church.
* Replant native species on 55 acres of the site, the adjoining city and church parcels.
* Use conservation deed restrictions to preserve the 71.5 acres for green space but allow for maintenance of the existing infrastructure.
* Demolish and remove existing dilapidated buildings, with the option to repair an existing barn as storage space for county equipment and materials.
* Add an improved aggregate surface for the 5.4-acre storage parcel used by the County Engineer's East Outpost, with the balance of the site to be planted with matching native grass.
Council voted unanimously to approve the fee waiver in exchange for the restoration work.
The county will remain liable for a $350 fee for a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan Review because, according to City Engineer Steve Farst, this review had to be completed by a third-party contractor, whereas he would complete the other reviews and application fees.
Several council members and Mayor Lance Westcamp said they look forward to ridding the city of the landfill and opening more green space to the community.
"I think the city would be much in favor of this plan," Westcamp said. "I agree with council member (Ed) Dildine; I think if we can partner in any way to speed this up and make it a better project, we want to."