The Etna Township comprehensive-plan committee met July 27 to finalize the first set of goals and strategies for future land use.

The Etna Township comprehensive-plan committee met July 27 to finalize the first set of goals and strategies for future land use.

Township zoning administrator Chris Harkness said the committee should finish its work in September, and after a review by the Licking County Planning Commission, the final plan should be ready for public hearing in October.

Previous committee meetings during the summer have focused largely on agricultural uses and preservation. Last week's meeting focused on managing industrial and manufacturing growth.

"In order to attract industrial development, we need to maintain and improve the infrastructure in industrial areas," committee member Dave Goll said. "You're not going to attract new or keep what's already here if they continue to have problems getting trucks in and out of their businesses. They'll find someplace else to do business."

Committee member Mark Schaff stressed the importance of limiting new industry and manufacturing to defined areas of the township, saying available land in those areas is plentiful and that allowing additional industrial development in other areas would undermine the goal of preserving rural character.

"Only 25 percent of the land that is designated industrial is currently being used that way," Schaff said. "The idea that there is a need for expansion outside that area is just not true."

He said developers try to save money by developing virgin agricultural land because it costs less to start fresh, but that this results in the loss of agricultural land that need not be lost.

"For some reason they don't like to work with land that has already been developed," Schaff said. "They view it as more costly to develop."

Industrial-land-use goals included generating jobs, expanding tax revenue, encouraging "green" industry, restricting industrial uses to designated areas near the highways and preserving agricultural land.

Environmental issues also dominated the meeting. Goals in the comprehensive plan included maintaining wildlife corridors, preserving rural aesthetic and scenic views and protecting groundwater and water-supply aquifers.

Schaff said industry must be held accountable for pollution.

"We almost had a steel company in Etna Township, but luckily, they went to Indiana, where they did exactly the kinds of things we're trying to avoid here," Schaff said, adding that the company was charged with polluting Indiana groundwater. "We dodged a bullet in that case. They would have done that here, with our groundwater and our aquifers."

The committee also discussed preserving wildlife by planning for it.

"Traditionally, Ohio has paid no attention to wildlife," Schaff said. "Roadways in particular cause so much carnage. Infrastructure development needs to be sensitive to travel corridors for wildlife. In most cases they had options, but nobody paid attention to it.

"We're a prime example of resource tragedy. At one point we had one of the largest natural pigeon roosts of anywhere in the country," he said. "They were hunted to extinction, as a vile sport, in my opinion, because pigeons weren't food for anybody. Our history is not good in this area."

Committee member Roger Pickering said some wildlife was overabundant.

"I've never had so much deer damage, and I imagine some homeowners are having it, too," he said. "You can't plant a small tree without deer damaging it. It may be that some of these (comprehensive plan) goals are conflicting."

Schaff also said the township could preserve trees to take advantage of expected markets where such forests could be paid for by pollutant emitters who must find ways to offset pollution.

"If we follow the European model at some point, there will be markets where you're allowed so many units of air pollution if you buy so many units of air quality, which are tied to woodlands primarily," Schaff said. "Brazilian forests are the best example of a worldwide resource."