zc February 23, 2011

On February 23, 2011 the Newbury Township Zoning Commission (ZC) held their regular monthly meeting in the upstairs meeting room of Newbury Town Hall.

Carolyn Paschke called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. with Alice Munn, Lou Tomsic, Judd Douglas, Sue Wagner and Steve Kitko present. Ms. Paschke reminded everyone that the meeting time had been changed to begin at 7:00 p.m. The revised minutes of the 1-26-11 meeting were approved and signed.

Ms. Paschke opened the agenda to address “composting” and recognized Mr. Ralston to present his comments. Mr. Douglas Ralston read the contents of his 2 page letter (Exhibit-A) describing the history and transition of rural to businesses in Newbury emphasizing that residents enjoy living and working in this community, good schools – driven by the tax base, increasing property values and good quality of life. Newbury trustees responded creating the Master Plan and the zoning Vision Statement to direct the service to hi-tech transition to augment the tax base. He advocates stricter zoning to attract up-scale businesses.

Ms. Endres briefed the board on the BZA denial of the Sweet Peet (SP) composting operation that was opposed by the adjacent property owners on Cross Creek Pkwy.

Mr. Griffin Ralston presented and read his 3 page letter (Exhibit B) stating he does not support any changes to zoning regarding composting because:
1) the present zoning should be upheld,
2) zoning changes would set a dangerous precedent for the future,
3) protection from contamination should be maintained,
4) dangers from compost fires that reach over 200 degree F,
5) existing property values & the environment should be protected,
6) composting is inconsistent with the Land Use Plan – Cross Creek Pkwy is in a flood plane.
His alternate suggestion was to prohibit composting of any wood product within the township.

Mr. Tomsic said composting needs to be permitting somewhere and questioned the legality of prohibiting it outright. Mr. Kitko likened this to the “asphalt plant” where the prosecutors determined zoning could not prohibit a useful use with proper protections. He said the township is embarking on a “slippery slope” with the EPA permits allowing the SP operation and the County Health Commissioner addressing the health and environmental concerns with adequate safeguards. Geauga Organics (GO) had upgraded their application, compared to the SP Brunswick operation, adding a concrete liner, improved embankments, etc. Composting predates present zoning along the Rt. 87 corridor with “grandfathered” landscaping businesses.

Ms. Paschke said the board should obtain legal council regarding the grandfathered status. Mrs. Ralston asked whether any present composting operations use manure – none. Mr. Kitko said many landscapers use their compost product to support their off-site applications but he sees a need for operational restrictions.

Discussion continued regarding GO operation: natural process vs. a manufactured product, objectionable odors, insects, retention pond contamination/escape, etc.

GO has appealed the “Zoning Inspector Error” on denial of the triple variance & Conditional Use requests. Mr. Ralston asked for a copy of the appeal – Ms. Endres agreed to email him a copy.

Ms. Paschke recommended the board table the composting issue during this on-going appeal. The board could discuss particulars with the Twp employed experts: Mr. Swerigan, Rulistan, Michels, etc. Lot size minimums, setbacks, grandfathered tub-grinder operations, mixed opinions on the BZA SP hearing, natural vs. processed on Rt. 87 corridor, noise, smell & protections would all be under consideration.

Mr. Tomsic said that businesses we don’t want to look at on the Rt. 87 corridor, we put in the M-1 district that is now a catch-all of operations. Mr. Kitko said that Geauga County has the most horses in any county in Ohio and needs to address the disposal problem with an acceptable site. He questioned the legality of tabling the request during an appeal. Ms. Endres said the ZC could establish another Industrial Zone for more restrictive (objectionable) operations. Mr. Ralston said Newbury is persuing up-scale businesses, not just R-1 residential. Mr. Douglas agreed that light industrial is wanted and the code should be amended to encourage that.

Mr. Paschke concluded the discussion on composting. She then asked the board to review the modifications for Land-bank Parking with review of the Conditional Use Permit – the BZA has the authority to enforce and/or revoke a permit for non-compliance.

Ms. Endres said the number of parking spaces was self-policing as growing businesses want enough parking for their customers. The question arose whether the enforcement should be controlled by the Zoning Inspector or the BZA. Ms. Endres said the code needed enforcement language added. Mr. Kitko said he thought that Model zoning was too restrictive. Why land banking? To encourage green space till parking (per specification) is required. Who is eligible? Definition should spell this out – whether it should be a permitted or Conditional Use as a way to eliminate the need for a variance.

Sue Wagner proposed allowing the Zoning Inspector to limit the green space as a permitted use for future parking needs. Ms. Endres said there should be no structures allowed in the land-bank areas. Discussion of types of feature signs for Zeppie’s at Newbury Center were explored for dual signs for corner applications with a maximum letter height of 2 ft. (agreed upon but omitted in the last zoning change).

Alternate Energy should be included in a (new) Sec. 24 with applicable definitions in the beginning of Sec. 24 – also remove other definition/references elsewhere in the present code.
The board questioned whether the township has the authority to mandate a performance bond and enforcing/updating the escalating costs thereof. The fall-zone setback should be 1.1 times the total height not 1.5 that was specified for efficient turbine spacing – not fall-zone.

Mr. Hudak has informed the board he would not be able to attend the next 3 ZC meetings due to work-related conflicts. Was a leave of absence required? The ZC should ask the trustees to decide.

The next ZC meeting will be held March 23, 2011.

Ms. Endres said she would request an opinion from Dave Dietrich on the questions raised concerning signs and land-banking.

Ms. Paschke adjourned the meeting at 8:30 p.m.