As Blendon Township continues to move toward autonomy, township leaders have created a building department and are looking to create a zoning code.
The Blendon Township Board of Trustees approved a building department for the township March 25, contracting with the firm Asebrook & Co., to issue permits and review building plans.
"All the businesses that need occupancy permits or inspections for improvements, they'll come through Blendon Township now instead of the state of Ohio," said Blendon Township Administrator Bryan Rhoads.
"What we're hoping is this is just another step as we try to localize services for everyone. Hopefully, we'll have a one-stop place for everyone to get what they need."
Asebrook also provides zoning services to other central Ohio townships that have building departments, including Franklin and Prairie townships, Rhoads said.
With the contract, Asebrook will provide services on an as-needed basis, Rhoads said. The party requiring the services will be charged Asebrook's fee plus a $100 administrative fee that will go to the township.
"We handle the fees and all of that, and if they need inspections or plan review, we send it to the company," Rhoads said.
"The other townships are realizing some revenue from it as well because we do have some fees on top of it."
To complement its building department, the township also is working to create its own zoning code.
Currently, zoning matters in Blendon Township are handled by Franklin County and building matters are handled by the state.
The township has a zoning commission that is working on creating the township's zoning code. There will be a public hearing on the zoning code at 7 p.m. April 8 in the Blendon Township Senior Center 6330 S. Hempstead Road.
Once the township is finished with the code, it will go to Franklin County for approval.
Following that, the Blendon Township Board of Trustees would vote to have the code placed before township voters in the November election.
The hope with creating a township zoning code and commission, Rhoads said, is that township residents will be more in control of development within the township.
"Over the last several years, the residents have voiced their concerns ... that it needs to be rebuilt and rebranded," Rhoads said.
"Having zoning local will let the local citizens here be in control to the zoning. ... It's giving us the set of tools on the local level to rebuild and move forward."
The zoning and building capabilities also will help the township work more closely with business owners and developers who want to locate within the township, Rhoads said.
"This will let us work really closely with potential developers," he said. "When they're looking to come into the township, we'll be able to sit down with them to work."
The creation of zoning and building departments comes on the heels of township voters approving home-rule authority for the township and creating a joint economic development zone with Westerville, which applies the city's income tax to Blendon Township's commercial areas, bringing in revenue for township infrastructure improvements and economic development.