Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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County delays vote on Springfield Twp. plan

Springfield Township trustees will have to wait a little longer before learning the fate of their proposed master land-use plan.

Lucas County planning commissioners last week delayed voting on it until later this month when the 117-page document has an updated map and some other changes.

Commission member Don Mewhort said he would feel better if the decision was made on the “final, final,'' version of the plan, which township officials have taken a year to develop.

Acknowledging that there are some technical changes needed to be made to the document, township trustees chairman Susan Meek said it was submitted as an overall plan, not as a document with technical specifications.

“It is a general public policy for smart growth,'' she said.

She said specific changes, such as altering the township zoning code, will come after the master plan is accepted by Lucas County commissioners.

Among the issues discussed at the planning commission meeting was the plan's recommendation that the township implement an agricultural zoning district.

The designation would permit farms, orchards, and farm-related uses, but prohibit other types of development, including housing, without a special permit.

Steve Serchuk, planning commission chairman, asked what might happen if a long-time farmer wanted one of his children to build a home on the farm property.

John Nagy, a principal planner for the planning commission and an advisor to the committee that put the master plan together, said he didn't think it would be a problem as long as there was an appropriate septic system.

But, he added, those specific situations will have to be worked out by township officials when they begin to design their zoning code.

Lucas County commissioner Harry Barlos said he understood that the concept of restricting uses for agricultural land is to “avoid leap-frog development,'' but asked if there is any thought given to “protect property owners if they want to develop.''

John Iacoangeli of the consulting firm of Beckett & Raeder, which has been involved in the master-plan project, said that if an area currently is agricultural, the master plan committee determined that they would call it that.

“It's one way we can pace the development,'' of the township, he told commissioners.

The idea of designating some areas for agricultural use will allow for “a more rational way of extending infrastructure,'' he said.

The agricultural district is one of many features in the document that has been the subject of public meetings, telephone and written questionnaires and monthly committee meetings in the township.

Mrs. Meek said one of the overriding issues supported during the process has been the preservation of an agricultural influence in the township and a means of reigning in growth.

Commercial development along Airport Highway and its attendant traffic problems in the township has been a source of complaints for years, she noted.

The township has been described as a “poster child for urban sprawl,'' and this is a means to arrest and control development, she said.

The public also made clear, she said, a similar desire for more parkland and developing sidewalks and trails as alternatives to the use of cars.

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