Work will begin in 2019 on a ready-mix concrete facility that was the focus of a Berlin Township voter referendum this year.

Voters on May 8 rejected rezoning for Savko Brothers Properties X LLC's proposed plant at 5427 state Route 37, a former salvage yard.

About two weeks prior to the election, Savko Brothers purchased 8 acres nearby at the northwest corner of state Route 37 and North Old State Road. The 8-acre plot is zoned planned industrial district, and the concrete plant will be built there with no rezoning needed.

Martin Savko Sr., managing member of Savko Brothers Properties, said construction is expected to start in March or April. The project's plans will be submitted to the Delaware County building department, he said, and Berlin Township will be briefed as plans progress.

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.

A first step at the site was paving Evolution Ag's gravel parking lot and driveway, he said.

"We've worked on some other incidentals that needed to be taken care of around the building. We've got it pretty well taken care of," he added.

Evolution Ag managing principal Doug Loudenslager said the company is "really pleased with our new landlord. ... Marty and Savko Brothers have followed through exactly on what they had promised."

The paved driveway and parking lot are welcome improvements, Loudenslager said, and Savko also repaired a longstanding and significant drainage problem at the site.

"We had water running into buildings during rainstorms. We battled it a long time. Savko certainly improved it dramatically," he said.

Loudenslager also commended Savko for cleaning up the former salvage yard at 5427 state Route 37. Now that property will be "an asset rather than a liability to the township," Loudenslager said.

Savko said he recognized the salvage yard as a eyesore when he first saw it.

"I personally promised the Berlin zoning board and the trustees I would clean it up, and we're doing that now," he said.

A house and a junkyard fence were removed, he said. Two existing buildings at the site will be fixed up and weatherized, and will receive new garage doors and fresh paint.

The property's frontage along Route 37 is zoned commercial and the back half is zoned farm residential.

"We'll probably have a farmer work the back until something else is decided in years to come," Savko said. "The property will look better as time goes on."

At the concrete plant's new location, he said, "We can build a really large facility on industrial (zoned) property."

He said the new plant will start operations with three employees and the number will fluctuate later, with as many as 20 working there during times of peak production.

The facility will produce wet ready-mix concrete, mostly for central Ohio residential projects, he said.

Most of those projects will be fairly close by. Savko said the concrete has to be delivered to a building site 30 minutes after water is added to the mix. If the concrete is used an hour after the water is mixed, he said, it can cause problems such as flaking in the finished project.

For these reasons, he said, the plant site is strategically located for fairly quick access to an area where a lot of construction takes place.

Trucks hauling the concrete will be operated by Scioto Ready Mix LLC, which has locations in Columbus, Pataskala and Dublin. No more than 10 trucks at a time will be stationed at the Berlin Township site, Savko said.

The new plant will access U.S. Route 36/state Route 37 via North Old State Road, Savko said, allowing trucks to make safe turns at the site.

Truck traffic entering and leaving the facility will be "nothing compared to the (number of) semis" traveling routes 36/37, he said.

"It's a federal highway. People need to understand that," he added.

He earlier said Savko Brothers would have purchased the Evolution Ag site as a business investment even if voters had upheld the rezoning in May.

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