Two weeks after a public hearing, the Violet Township trustees voted 3-0 April 16 to approve rezoning of the westernmost 7.6 acres of a 10-acre parcel in the township from Planned Residential District to Limited Commercial District.
The unanimous vote clears one more hurdle for the developers of a proposed 97,000-square-foot, 519-unit self-storage facility targeted for construction on the vacant parcel at the southeast corner of Milnor and Refugee roads.
Unlike April 2, in which a passionate crowd -- most of them Spring Creek subdivision residents there to voice opposition to the proposed facility -- packed the township's meeting room, this time around there were only a handful of Spring Creek residents present.
Those residents, however, stormed out of the meeting upon the announcement of the vote, with one resident shouting at the trustees, "you work for us."
Storage One Self-Storage plans to build a ten-building facility on the parcel, which is located adjacent to the Spring Creek subdivision. The subdivision is in the city of Pickerington, having been annexed into the city in 2004.
Spring Creek residents mobilized to oppose the proposed facility, and presented the trustees with a petition against the rezoning.
The residents said they believe a self-storage facility is a substantial threat to their tight-knit, family-oriented community and they have visions of traffic problems endangering children as well as noise and light pollution lowering property values.
Mark Vanderhoff, a Spring Creek resident who led the petition drive opposing the development, said he wasn't surprised with the vote by the trustees.
"I think it's pretty self-evident that the decision was made before we even went to the first meeting," Vanderhoff said.
"We had over 100 signatures, but (the petition) was cast aside as insignificant.
"It's not a democratic process," Vanderhoff said.
One legal issue that remains to be resolved is that of access.
The storage facility can only accessed off Spring Creek Drive, which is a city of Pickerington-owned and maintained roadway.
Violet Township Trustee Terry Dunlap, Sr. said the developers have right of access off Spring Creek Drive because access was shown on the subdivision's plat from 1996 and then approved again as part of the annexation in 2004.
"Pickerington annexed that property knowing access was in place," Dunlap said.
"It was part of the annexation agreement," he said.
Township Engineer Greg Butcher said in the planning of the Spring Creek subdivision there were provisions made for access to Spring Creek Drive.
"What has changed is that the ownership of the public infrastructure has changed," he said.
"It's now incumbent upon the property owner to work with the city of Pickerington on obtaining access to the public right-of-way."
Pickerington City Manager Bill Vance proffered a legal opinion from the Pickerington City Law Director's Office indicating access to a city street requires the city's permission, according to the Ohio Revised Code.
Vance also said if Violet Township has documentation showing access to Spring Creek Drive, then he has yet to see it.
"If the city made such an agreement, we would honor it, but no such documentation has been produced for the Pickerington City Manager to comment on for the purpose of this story," Vance said.
"If Violet Township has the 1996 agreement or any other agreement which provides the township access to this city street, then why don't they just produce it?" Vance asked.
Butcher said "applicable case law indicates that there is a primary right of ownership for an abutting property to access to and from a public street from said parcel and that access cannot be denied without compensation."