Westerville News & Public Opinion

Blendon Township to put zoning code before voters

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Blendon Township voters once again will decide on an issue this November aimed at giving the township more autonomy.

Blendon Township trustees voted July 17 to place a zoning code and corresponding zoning map on the Nov. 5 ballot.

"The voters will be voting on whether or not we should adopt our own zoning and map," said Blendon Township Administrator Bryan Rhoads. "It's a major tool for us because as we work to clean up and rebuild the township, a lot of the code violations we see end up being zoning violations."

The township's zoning now is overseen by Franklin County. That means that if a code violation is present, the township has to work with county enforcers to resolve the issue, Rhoads said.

"Then you have all these different entities trying to conduct investigations on one property," Rhoads said.

Adopting a zoning code follows in line with two measures Blendon Township adopted last year aimed at giving the township more control over its lands.

In November, voters approved a joint economic development zone with Westerville and gave the township home-rule authority.

Having its own zoning code also makes sense, Rhoads said, because having a zoning commission and a zoning code will allow the township to work with businesses who come into the township to help redevelop properties, rather than referring those businesses or individuals on to Franklin County.

"It's a tool for us to use as we sit down with new homeowners and new business owners and go through the process with them as, far as what they need to do to rebuild," Rhoads said.

The zoning code adopted by township trustees is nearly identical to the Franklin County zoning that currently applies to the township.

"It's really very similar to Franklin County's code. Nobody's zoning will be changing. The use of the property will not be changing. It's just bringing it close to home to enforce," Rhoads said.

However, the township did remove the Smart Growth Overlay and reduced stream setbacks from 100 feet to 50 feet.

"Some of those tributaries are so small that the 100-foot requirement is damaging the value of (residents') property because they can't really do anything with it," Rhoads said.

If the zoning code is adopted by voters, Rhoads said the township likely will have to add administrative staff, but that cost would be offset by fees collected by those who go through the zoning process.

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