WAUSEON - Plans are in the works to allow more development near the steel plants on Airport Highway between Delta and Wauseon in Fulton County.
County commissioners yesterday set a public hearing for June 30 on a request to change zoning to planned business-industrial park on 256 acres of farmland just west of the Worthington Industries Inc. plant.
The current zoning classification is agricultural for the land at the southeast corner of Airport Highway and County Road 11. Petitioning for the change are owners Amy Seibel, Bill Seibel, Janet Rettstatt, and Marcia Rohrs.
Preliminary plans for an industrial park there have been controversial among York Township neighbors, said Paul Tedrow, who owns land just south of the Seibel family property.
"But those that have been strongly opposed have kind of decided it's a done deal," he said.
The request was approved by the Fulton County Rural Zoning Commission with a 4-1 vote last week. Vicki Smith voted no.
Earlier last week, the Fulton County Regional Planning Commission voted 13-1 to approve the request. Jim Stubbins voted no and Jeff Simon and Scott Gillen abstained, saying they are also on the zoning commission and did not want to cast two votes on the measure.
Mr. Simon said although it was hard for him to think about development on that land - the soil in the area is considered prime for growing corn - industrial plants are operating beside it.
"I don't like to see all the changes because I do farm," he said. "But, at the same time, it's going to happen. It's tough. I really feel bad for the people who live right there."
County commissioners have until July 20 to vote on the requested zoning change. They could have taken up to 30 days to schedule a hearing after receiving the request yesterday, and they are allowed 20 days after the hearing to make a decision.
One of the biggest concerns for Mr. Tedrow, a former long-time York Township trustee, is enforcement of any zoning changes that are approved. He said he resigned from the rural zoning commission this spring in frustration, feeling that the county commissioners and other county officials have not enforced zoning rules.
Steve Brown, director of the planning commission, said the zoning commission plans to ask the county commissioners this summer to modify M-3 zoning, which is what the Seibels are requesting, throughout the rural zoned areas of the county.
The recommendation, he said, is expected to call for more site plan information and spell out enforcement policies. The zoning commission is expected to hold its own hearing on those proposed changes early next month.