The on-again, off-again Berlin Township rezoning referendum scheduled for the May 8 ballot is back on -- this time for good.
The Delaware County Board of Elections voted March 23 to place the issue on the ballot.
The action followed a March 15 ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court on a case filed by one of the referendum petitioners, Graeme Quinn, a resident of North Old State Road. Quinn asked the court to reverse the board of elections' Jan. 18 decision to remove the referendum from the ballot.
The referendum seeks to reverse the Berlin Township board of trustees' rezoning resolution that would allow an industrial park and concrete plant to be built on 24 acres at 5427 state Route 37 E., at the northwest corner of Route 37 and North Old State Road.
The Jan. 18 session was held to hear protests by the developer, Savko Brothers Properties X LLC, seeking to remove the referendum. The board had approved the referendum Nov. 13.
The elections board Jan. 18 decided via 3-1 vote the referendum was ineligible for the ballot, saying the wording of its title violated Ohio law.
The Supreme Court, however, ruled the title was legal, nullifying the board's vote.
Also Jan. 18, the board voted 2-2 on whether the referendum's summary met legal requirements.
The elections board had expected Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to cast a tie-breaking vote on that issue before the Supreme Court heard the appeal. Husted did not.
The court ruling quoted Husted as writing, "The tie vote of the board is not a 'matter in controversy' ... requiring a tie-breaking decision."
The court wrote, "We agree. ... As the case is currently postured, Savko's protest was unsuccessful as to the petition's summary, because the board of elections could not muster a majority."
On March 22, Husted did cast a tie-breaking vote following the election board's request for direction. Husted sided with Quinn.
After the board's March 23 vote, Quinn predicted the referendum is "going to sell itself. Nobody in the community wants this to happen. As soon as anybody hears what's going on, I'm confident they're going to be motivated to vote against having this concrete plant" in the township.
He said as many as 50 people who oppose the rezoning had attended township meetings. Now, he said, those people will get together and start campaigning for the referendum "and do our best to get votes on our side."
Quinn said some among those 50 people contributed to legal costs associated with the referendum and the court case.
He said about 15 township residents helped collect signatures for the referendum petition. He said Christina Littleton and Kim Hilderbrant "were responsible for a massive chunk of our 343 signatures."
Regarding the earlier rejection of the referendum, Quinn said, "I have nothing negative to say about any of this process. I understand that everybody has individual rights. Everybody's just trying to represent their own rights. Every counsel is trying to zealously represent their own client's interests. ...
"I'm glad at this point we're finally on the ballot."
Columbus attorney Joe Miller, who represented Savko at the Jan. 18 hearing, did not return a message to ThisWeek Delaware News.
Board of elections Director Karla Herron earlier said the board was scheduled to put military and overseas ballots in the mail March 24.