A developer who lost an Election Day battle over rezoning for a concrete plant in Berlin Township now plans to build the plant where no rezoning is needed.
Berlin Township trustees in October granted a rezoning from neighborhood commercial district and farm residential district to planned industrial district at 5427 state Route 37.
Savko Brothers Properties X LLC had sought the rezoning to allow a 4,300-square-foot concrete facility at the site, a former salvage yard.
The next month, township residents filed a referendum petition to block the rezoning.
Savko challenged the referendum, eventually leading to an Ohio Supreme Court decision March 15 that put the issue on the May 8 ballot.
Final, unofficial results from the Delaware County Board of Elections showed 948 "no" votes (67 percent) to the question, "Shall the zoning amendment ... be approved?" with 462 "yes" votes (33 percent).
Martin Savko Sr., managing member of Savko Bros. Properties, said about two weeks before the election, he learned of 8 acres for sale at the northwest corner of state Route 37 and Old State Road.
Just east of 5427 state Route 37, the plot is zoned planned industrial district.
Savko said a purchase was negotiated quickly. Even if voters had approved the rezoning May 8, he said, his company still would have made the purchase as a business investment.
Now, he said, the concrete plant could be constructed on the 8 acres with no rezoning needed.
Evolution Ag LLC -- which sells tractors and other farm, home and garden equipment at the former Buckeye Tractor location -- will continue to operate its store on the 8-acre site, Savko said.
"We didn't buy that to put them out of business," he said.
Plans will have to be submitted to the township for the concrete plant at the new site, he said. He could not estimate when that planning would begin, but "if we want to, we can start quickly."
He said his company's original plan received unanimous approval from the Delaware County Regional Planning Commission and the township zoning and trustee boards.
Although "we made a tremendous amount of concessions" to residents regarding 5427 state Route 37, Savko said, "I hold no resentment for how they handled things. ... The citizens have a right to do what they did. I respect that."
He said his company would continue with its original plan for an enclosed indoor facility with "state-of-the-art" air handlers.
The plant could be built "without any of these concessions" made regarding 5427 state Route 37, he said. One example was landscape mounding that would have surrounded the plant there.
Graeme Quinn, a resident of North Old State Road, is one of those who petitioned for the May 8 vote. He also filed the Supreme Court case that put the issue on the ballot.
"We are ... aware that the legal options are very different if (Savko) builds" at the new site, he said.
"We'd have to see a plan before we could decide how to respond, so at this time we are focusing on engaging with the township voters to thank them for their overwhelming support, and looking forward to working with our zoning officials to try to help us stay true to the township's own vision for Berlin's future."
He said the referendum was the result of a grass-roots campaign "that has made a lot of people in the township more aware of how zoning works."
He predicted those residents would remain involved with township issues, such as updates to Berlin Township's land-use plan.
"The township voters have spoken very clearly and very loudly and made it plain that we as a township want to stick with our land-use plan."
Savko said his company would continue its work to clean up the former salvage yard at 5427 state Route 37.
Senior levy passes
Delaware County's older residents can rest assured the services they depend on will continue after SourcePoint's easy win at the polls May 8.
The county's senior-services levy passed effortlessly, with final, unofficial results from the Delaware County Board of Elections showing 23,730 votes (72 percent) for the levy and 9,134 votes (28 percent) against it.
The current levy costs residents $32.13 annually per $100,000 of property value, according to the Delaware County Auditor's Office.
With the passage of the five-year, 1.2-mill renewal levy and 0.1-mill increase, residents will pay an additional $3.50 annually per $100,000 of property value.
About 80 percent of SourcePoint's funding comes from its levy, with the remainder coming from donations, fees, grants and other sources.
The current levy generates about $8.4 million in revenue per year; the new levy will raise about $9.1 million annually.
The levy supports myriad services aimed at senior citizens, from the Meals on Wheels program (which served about 1,700 people in 2017) to courses and education for seniors and their caregivers, to activities and gatherings at SourcePoint's Delaware headquarters.