Liberty Township has hired a grant writer in hopes of winning funding for parks and trails from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Liberty Township has hired a grant writer in hopes of winning funding for parks and trails from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Township trustees agreed to pay Alicia Eckhart $15,000 to write four grants and hold "community input sessions and stakeholder interviews" to prioritize the community's "interests in locations of future trail and park development."

"The grant writer we targeted here has a Ph.D. in rec-economics," township administrator Dave Anderson said. "She specializes in justifying grants with economic impact, which is a justification boost."

With Eckhart's assistance, the township will seek these grants:

Nature Works, for park improvement funding up to $112,000.

Land Water Conservation Fund, for park improvement funding up to $70,000.

Clean Ohio Trails Fund, for up to $5-million.

Recreational Trails Program, for up to $250,000.

"She does have a record of getting these grants," township trustee Curt Sybert said. "Good (grant writers) are tough to find and you have to pay for them."

Documents from the Sept. 20 meeting show Eckhart has written grants for Orange Township since 2008 and for Circleville since 2007.

For Orange Township, documents show Eckhart wrote five ODNR grants with total awards of $876,750. Results of an application she wrote for an ODOT grant for $1.3-million to build a pedestrian bridge over U.S. Route 23 will be decided by late November, Orange Township project manager Scott Overturf told ThisWeek.

For Circleville, documents show she wrote six applications for various state and private funding grants. The total awarded was $1.6-million.

Trustees also:

Approved lowering weight restrictions and posting signs on 11 roads. Anderson said during colder seasons, the roads become more brittle and "heavy loads will bust the roads up, costing tax payers money" on road repair. County engineer Chris Bauserman's office installs the seasonal signs.

Heard fiscal officer Mark Gerber say the township likely will see a 30-percent or greater increase in health insurance premiums in February.

Unanimously approved already completed construction of a pool, deck, patio and pergola in the back yard of a residential property on Canterbury Drive.

The construction was approved by the zoning commission in 2009, but the township zoning department later identified zoning violations, including an excessively large patio and construction too far into a common green-space area shared by all residents of the development.

Sybert at first said the changes made to the plan should go to the zoning commission for approval.

He said the township's legal counsel recommended that step to avoid lawsuits.

Trustee Mary Carducci said the property owner had letters of approval from his neighbors and from his development's homeowners' association.

Trustee Bob Mann said that in a previous no-build-zone approval lawsuit, the township was sued by a neighbor upset because a green-space area was encroached.

That suit was dropped later.