The Etna Township Zoning Commission met Feb. 16 to continue work on a proposed 86-acre development along state Route 310, between the Cameron Chase and Cumberland Trail subdivisions.

The Etna Township Zoning Commission met Feb. 16 to continue work on a proposed 86-acre development along state Route 310, between the Cameron Chase and Cumberland Trail subdivisions.

The proposal covers land both east and west of Route 310 and would require construction of access roads that eventually would require a traffic signal.

Attorney Connie Klema, on behalf of JBW properties, submitted the application in January. The land is zoned for agricultural use. The proposal calls for retail development on the west of Route 310 and professional office development on the east of Route 310, with residential development to the rear of each.

Commissioners expressed concerns about age restrictions in both residential areas and in commercial areas of the proposal, including facilities for the elderly.

Alternate commission member Mike Kerner said restrictions limiting commercial use to certain business codes would take care of any age issues.

"I don't know why we would entertain what age a person is there," Kerner said. "Someone may be in a nursing-care facility for something other than old age maybe breathing ailments or mobility ailments or other disabilities that require them to be in a continuous nursing-care facility. Does it matter if they are 24 years old or 36 or 50 or 70?"

Commission member Bill Young said age restrictions are common, to separate elderly use from young family use.

"But it's possible (that families could occupy the properties) if you have attached condos," Young said. "I would imagine they want a community where it's primarily empty-nesters older people without children with them. A lot of places will restrict it so you can have a grandchild come stay with you for a week of the year or something."

Commission chair Trent Stepp said he was concerned about ambiguity in "units" in zoning restrictions that would limit development to four units per acre.

Commission members also discussed requiring minimum size requirements from 1,000 square feet to 1,200 square feet per unit and whether the development should be allowed to build private streets to a lesser standard that would be required for public streets.

"If they do insist on keeping (the streets) private, could we require them to post a notice at each street, saying it is a private street not maintained by the township?" Young said.

Young said he thinks the developers were trying to avoid some of the costs associated with public streets that eventually are deeded to the local government.

"I think they're trying to get away from having to put sidewalks in," Young said.

Stepp said he would like to require that even private streets be built to the higher standard to avoid maintenance problems later.

"I think the zoning text should require that any private streets be built to the same standard that a public street would be built to gutters, sidewalks, curbs, depth, inspections," Stepp said. "That way if it were to get (deeded) to the township 10 years from now because the people did not want to pay for it, we would not inherit a problem."

Commissioners did not take formal action on the application, which is expected to be discussed during several meetings.

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