Liberty Township: Submitted referendum could put Hyatts Road development plan on ballot

Jim Fischer
ThisWeek

Liberty Township residents might get a vote on a controversial zoning overlay.

Residents presented a petition and signatures to the township offices April 12, and trustees voted at their April 19 meeting to certify receipt and forward the petition and signatures to the Delaware County Board of Elections.

This updated map shows Planned Overlay District 18 in Liberty Township, as approved by township trustees March 15. The Delaware County Board of Elections voted 3-0 on May 4 to certify a petition to place the overlay district on the November ballot.

Trustees on March 15 approved the contentious Planned Overlay District 18, creating a roughly 190-acre zoning overlay for mixed-use development north of Hyatts Road, primarily between Sawmill Parkway and Liberty Road.

After hearing comments questioning the validity of the petition, trustee Shyra Eichhorn said the petition has met the criteria for timing and minimum signatures, and any further consideration of the petition’s merit should be up to the board of elections.

“(The trustees’) role is not to determine the sufficiency or validity” of the petition,” township legal counsel Peter Griggs said.

Trustees voted 2-0 to send the petition, along with a written copy of the objections, plus all documents related to the rezoning, to the board of elections. Mike Gemperline was absent.

Anthony Saadey, the elections board’s assistant director, said the petition materials had been received by the board as of April 20. The board will work to determine the validity of the petition and whether a referendum on the zoning will be placed on the November ballot, he said.

Saadey could not say if that process would be limited to determining the validity of the signatures or if further investigation into the petition would be needed.

“That will be up to our attorney,” Saadey said.

Saadey said the matter had not yet been placed on an agenda as of April 21 and that the soonest the referendum could appear on the ballot would be in November.

Attorney Steve Cuckler, who represented developer Metro Development and landowners seeking the overlay district, also sits on the board of elections. Cuckler had no comment on the petition and told ThisWeek he had recused himself from the board in this matter.

Township resident Scott Miller said he was “pleased” with the effort, led by Liberty Residents for Responsible Growth, to gather the roughly 1,315 signatures in support of the petition.

“The goal is to have the issue placed on the ballot and let the residents decide,” Miller said. “That’s what we want.”

Check ThisWeekNEWS.com/Olentangy for updates.

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews