A special meeting of the Board of Township Trustees, Newbury Township was called to order at 8:40 a.m., January 30, 2010, with all trustees present. Purpose of this meeting was to conduct a joint meeting with the Newbury Zoning Commission and the Newbury Board of Zoning Appeals. Present from the Zoning Commission was Carolyn Paschke -chairman, Lou Tomsic-vice chairman, Jerry Hudak, Alice Munn, Judd Douglas and alternate Susan Wagner. Present from the Board of Zoning Appeals was Mary Lee Brezina-vice chairman, Tezeon Wong, Glen Quigley, Bill Skomrock, Sr., and alternates Ken Blair and Chris Yaecker.
Ms. Blair opened the first order of business as a carry-over from the last trustee meeting of Jan 27, 2010 to review any concerns over legal or ethical improprieties for the appointments to the Board of Zoning Appeals made at that time. She moved to rescind the appointment of Bill Skomrock Sr. to the Board of Zoning Appeals made at the 1/20/2010 meeting; David Snively seconded the motion with the vote: Blair-yes and Snively-yes, with Bill Skomrock Jr. abstaining. David Snively nominated Bill Skomrock Sr. and moved to appoint him to fill the Board of Zoning Appeals position vacated by Dean Eppley; Jan Blair seconded the motion with the vote: Snively-yes and Blair-yes, with Bill Skomrock Jr. abstaining.
Ms. Blair welcomed all and introduced the newly appointed members to the Board of Zoning Appeals and Zoning Commission. She said it was important for all involved in zoning to review the policies and evaluate the results of the 2009 sessions – especially any trustee’s help to remove any obstacles that could make the variance process easier on Newbury residents. Bill Skomrock Jr. asked if there were any recurring Board of Zoning Appeals issues on a consistent policy basis. David Snively said he had observed many Board of Zoning Appeals hearings resulting in “slam dunk” decisions; he hoped it might be possible for the Zoning Inspector to grant these permits rather than require a Board of Zoning Appeals hearing. Board of Zoning Appeals and Zoning Commission members have attended each other’s meetings for better understanding of actual cases.
Jan Blair challenged Marge Hrabak and Karen Endres to categorize similar cases in 09 for possible revisions that might lead to fewer variance hearings. Alice Munn introduced Carolyn Paschke as the new chairman of the Zoning Commission with Lou Tomsic as vice-chairman. Carolyn thanked Alice for her leadership in Zoning Commission actions taken in 2009. Amendment 2009-1 was most comprehensive and included items that had been discussed for the previous several years including a new two tier Home Occupation classification that allows permits for class I without Board of Zoning Appeals hearings. Daktronics provided a mobile demo of electronic signs with full documentation specifics to write code for electronic signs. Jerry Hudak had measured existing signs in Newbury and found all of them were larger than the present code allowed. Zoning Commission members agreed to double the permitted sign sizes in the next amendment. Zoning Commission members attended zoning seminars in Columbus and Westlake to stay informed on current issues and legal recommendations. The agenda for 2010 addresses: electronic and all sign codes, wind turbines and modifications to adult business location and setbacks.
Glen Quigley asked that the Zoning Commission follow the county model zoning; David Snively concurred that was the prosecutor’s advice but additions could be made if relevant to Newbury. Marge Hrabak distributed Wind Turbine information to the Zoning Commission members and trustees with wording following model zoning and ORC for small wind (>5mw capacity) so we wouldn’t have to start from ground zero. Bill Skomrock Jr. brought up the problems with ice falling from the radio tower on Sperry Rd. Discussion continued regarding FAA height regulations, applicable liability and removal bonds, disguising cell towers, damage claims now in civil court and township involvement.
Mary Lee Brezina reported on the Board of Zoning Appeals hearings, stating that there were fewer variance hearings for exempting rear extensions to non-conforming structures, but agricultural exemptions still represent problems. The discussion continued with the Bell Rd. tree farm example: 5 driveways, huge accessory building behind residences, traffic concerns and rebuilding an accessory building into an in-law suite - to name a few.
Alice Munn welcomed the Board of Zoning Appeals attendance at Zoning Commission meetings with valuable interaction on items such as Home Occupations needing Board of Zoning Appeals hearings. Jan Blair cited the list of member duties distributed to both the Board of Zoning Appeals and Zoning Commission. She stressed that attendance of alternates was especially important at the Board of Zoning Appeals where a continuance or a tie vote might occur without a full board present. She welcomed other suggestions.
Chris Yaecker suggested that zoning should allow in-law suites with Conditional Use restrictions. Karen Endres said one entryway, one kitchen and one laundry should apply to keep in-law suites as “family” and not rental units. Chris said the conditions on variances must be relevant to each case to avoid future abuse and enforcement problems. The discussion continued regarding Affidavits of Fact (used in tying lots together for future sale in lake communities) as deed restrictions enacted by the homeowner and agreed to as part of the variance.
Questions were raised about inclusion of General Welfare in model zoning and in the NZ code. The prosecutor’s advice was it might be okay to include General Welfare in the mission statement but use caution if basing any regulations on General Welfare that has not yet been tested in court. Karen Endres outlined the expectations and support she needed from the boards through the following steps: read hearing info before the meeting, record attendance and retain a file of members who attend continuing education seminars (for credence if challenged in court), compare/revise NZ to model zoning and continued trustee support with updated projector/screen/photo equipment for use by all.
Marge Hrabak confirmed the prosecutor’s opinions that only affected/adjacent property owners who objected at the variance hearing have standing before the court within the 30 appeal days. It would still be good policy to read the statement to the applicant after the variance decision. Chris Yaecker commented upon the higher Illuminating Co. electric bills resulting from discontinuing the all-electric discount sanctioned by the PUCO. Senator Tim Grendell is initiating a class-action suite for breach of contract that anyone can join in.
Tezeon Wong asked about the sunshine laws, responsibilities of boards, conflicts of interest, ethics and elected vs. appointed members. Jan Blair said she would supply a handbook to be read and signed. Rotation of voting alternates was suggested, more so for the Board of Zoning Appeals than the Zoning Commission. Jan Blair updated the list of the following new businesses in Newbury: the Habitat Re-store to be located in the Chandler Tree Bldg, Fairmont Minerals taking over the Kinetico pellet treatment business and Engineered Endeavors that will manufacture cell towers in the Kinetico #2 facility, a low-impact operation that has secured a low-interest loan for their move from Lake County. The present status of the All Erection Crane Bldg. was reviewed: Newbury’s zoning win may be appealed to the Supreme Court. It was noted that Arborware and one other purchase offer was refused. Timetable for the turning lanes on the Auburn Rd/Rt .87 intersection has been moved back to 2012 by ODOT- MOU with the help of Tim Grendell and the Geauga County team. Glen Quigley reminded all that a developer should have their ODOT driveway permits in hand before applying for a Board of Zoning Appeals variance to avoid similar problems in the future.
The Joint Zoning Meeting adjourned at 10:20 a.m.
Posted on Sat, January 30, 2010
by Ann Wishart