Two Wedgewood neighbors who started to build a footbridge for children visited the Liberty Township trustees Dec. 21 after learning the site is in a no-build zone and after being threatened with a $500-a-day fine.

Two Wedgewood neighbors who started to build a footbridge for children visited the Liberty Township trustees Dec. 21 after learning the site is in a no-build zone and after being threatened with a $500-a-day fine.

Residents and next-door neighbors Jerry Johnson and Rick Elam decided to construct a footbridge over a creek that runs along the side yards between their properties. The bridge would be installed so that it is temporary and relatively easy to remove, Johnson said.

The intention was to provide safe crossing for the 10 children ages 8 and younger who live and play in the area. Crossing the creek -- which can run deep during rain and snowmelt -- is hazardous, Johnson told trustees.

After starting the project and installing posts in the ground, they found out that the area is a no-build zone. Putting structures in no-build zones requires a variance from the township. Variances can be classified as minor, which can be approved administratively, or major which must go through a hearing process at the township board of zoning appeals. The men immediately stopped constructing the footbridge.

Earlier this month, Johnson asked the trustees how to proceed, noting that the project had received approval from his homeowners association (HOA) and its environmental committee,

Trustees said they would consult the zoning staff and attorney and decide at the Dec. 21 meeting.

The township's contract zoning attorney, Bill Loveland, recommended the trustees send the issue to the board of zoning appeals, said Dave Anderson, township administrator. That process includes filing an application for a variance and a $600 fee.

Anderson said such construction is subject to deed restrictions, plat restrictions, zoning modifications, county soil and water district approval, side yard setbacks and approval of nearby residents.

Trustee Curt Sybert said the zoning board likely would approve the request.

Johnson voiced frustration because the township also sent him a registered letter stating that he might be fined $500 per day starting Jan. 5 unless the posts and concrete are removed.

"Folks, that is not the government that I understand exists in America," Johnson said. "We're more than happy to go through the process, but we're talking about a temporary footbridge for children to be able to cross the creek That isn't fair to the average citizen trying to live in his own backyard. What I'm learning is there's a heavy-handed government bureaucracy."

Trustee Bob Mann said trustees must uphold the laws. Trustees said no action would be taken on the letter describing the fine until the trustees have helped figure out the process.

In other business, trustees:

Heard from Randy Leib of the road department, who recently analyzed the township's 86 miles of road using a system developed by the Delaware County engineer Chris Bauserman's office. Leib produced a report that rates the roads with a number from 1 to 9, with 1 being unacceptable with a possible need for reconstruction and 9 being newly paved. Heard resident Kim Simpson thank trustee Peggy Guzzo for her service to the citizens. Guzzo lost her November bid for re-election. Approved $2.74-million in temporary appropriations for 2010 to cover operating expenses for the first quarter of the year, until the township's 2010 budget is approved by April 1, which state law requires. Approved paying $126,428 to Kokosing Construction for resurfacing of Brewster Lane, $216,789 for the 2009 third-quarter payment to the pension fund for fire department staff, and $49,685 in legal fees from July to November to Thompson Hine LLP for litigation and insurance issues.