Plus: Freedom Recycling back on council's committee plates

Newark City Council might take its last vote to raise building-code permit fees on May 4.

Council agreed in January to raise fees by 50 percent for commercial and residential permits issued within the city limits and by 60 percent for other entities in Licking County working outside the city limits. The issue was raised again during the next meeting, and two council members changed their votes, meaning the legislation was voted down and fee increases were not approved.

The administration then increased the fees for areas outside the city limits by 100 percent, and council followed suit by increasing fees inside the city limits by only 20 percent.

Hanover, one of the communities that contracts with Newark for building-code permits and inspections, revolted by halting its contract with Newark. Heath and Johnstown also raised concerns about the fee increase.

The city had an ad hoc committee study the issue. The committee determined the fee schedule should be changed again. During the safety committee's meeting held April 27, Councilwoman Irene Kennedy said the administration has changed the fees outside the city limits, increasing them by 60 percent.

On May 4, Newark City Council is expected to act on emergency legislation to increase fees within the city limits by 50 percent.

"This is going to help keep the building-code department viable," said Licking County Commissioner Doug Smith, who met with the city's ad hoc committee.

City officials have said the fee increases were needed to keep the department solvent. Increases would be in effect for 2009 only.

Newark council committee spends three hours studying zoning code
Newark City Council's service committee spent more than three hours on Monday reviewing the proposed change to its entire zoning code.

A myriad of changes were made to the proposed code after council heard from residents who complained that their properties were being zoned incorrectly in the new code.

Council also went through all 53 changes proposed by Dan Orr, who lives north of Newark. Orr said the changes he had suggested were agreed upon by 300 residents who live within several thousand feet of a recycling center in north Newark.

The committee on Monday determined to change the proposed zoning map, which shows 19 residential properties in ward 3 are zoned incorrectly. Councilman Doug Marmie said that was a mistake and should be corrected.

Other zoning changes requested by individual property owners could affect future property uses, though, so Marmie suggested that an appeals board review them. The proposed code includes the establishment of a five-member appeals board that could review changes to the new code for 18 months after it is approved. The board would include two members of the city's board of zoning appeals, one from the city's planning commission, one from council and a fifth person. All would be appointed by the mayor, with council approval.

Orr and the 300 who have signed a petition against Freedom Recycling on Mount Vernon Road suggested changes to permitted uses in several sections of the proposed code. The code, as proposed by city officials, would have allowed recycling-transfer stations and recycling-process centers as permitted uses in several zoning districts.

The committee agreed on Monday to require those types of businesses to obtain what is known as a conditional-use permit to operate within city limits. That means that in most zoning districts, those types of businesses would be required to request a conditional-use permit to operate.

"If there's anything that can be considered objectionable, why not use a conditional-use permit and let the property owners speak?" Orr asked during the meeting.

The service committee is expected to receive Monday's changes via e-mail on Thursday. Council then will vote on the proposed zoning code during its regular meeting May 4.

Another Newark council committee focuses on Freedom Recycling
Although Newark has not yet passed its new zoning-code ordinance, Newark City Council's economic development committee on Monday heard pros and cons of changing the zoning of 2097 Mount Vernon Road to limited industrial, general business or conservation district.

"To maintain control of the final use, we need to start the process," Newark service director Kathleen Barch said.

The property currently houses Freedom Recycling.

Barch said the city annexed the property from Newton Township in June 2008 and has one year to apply for a zoning classification. Although annexed, the property retains its township zoning classification.

The city delayed the zoning application because it was in the process of updating its zoning-code ordinance.

Now that the city's planning commission has completed its recommendation on the zoning code and has submitted it to council, the commission could begin reviewing the zoning change for the site, Barch said.
Despite objections from at least three residents who oppose the zoning change, committee members agreed to forward the legislation to council. Council will hear a first reading May 4 and then forward the legislation to the planning commission for a recommendation.

The planning commission has 60 days to send a recommendation back to council before council hears a second reading and possibly takes a vote on the zoning change.