Residents of Alexandria and St. Albans Township, who are trying to preserve their region’s pastoral, residential identity in the face of unprecedented growth, earned a small victory Wednesday.
Ernst Concrete withdrew its application to change the zoning designation of 13 acres from agricultural to manufacturing/delivery so that they could build a concrete plant near the junction of Rts. 37 and 161.
The Licking County Planning Board had passed a non-binding resolution in favor of the zoning change, 6-3, and sent the measure on to the St. Albans Zoning Board.
St. Albans Zoning Board, however, voted 5-0 to reject the application from Ernst Concrete for the zoning change.
This issue was set to be considered next by the St. Albans Township Trustees for a final decision. The trustees had scheduled a public hearing for August 24.
The recommendation from the Zoning Board was to reject the application on the following grounds: “It did not conform with the Comprehensive Plan;” “a concrete plant would be incompatible with with the planned commercial district,” which is outlined in the township’s comprehensive plan; and “the proposed manufacturing and distribution zoning, with its diverse and potentially heavy industrial uses, could lead to disturbances in the existing ecosystem and negatively impact the quality of life for nearby residents.”
In response to this decision, Ernst Concrete, via an Aug. 2 letter, written by its attorney, Connie Klema, withdrew its application for a zoning variance. The letter stated that “Ernst respects the goals established by the community in the recently approved Comprehensive Plan.”
Read previous coverage:
St. Albans zoning board says township trustees should reject spot zoning for concrete plant
Going against its staff and local development plans, Licking County Planning Commission OKs another concrete plant near Alexandria
The decision was greeted with relief by members of the community. Carianne Meng lives in Alexandria, and is part of the group Clean Air and Water for Alexandria and St. Albans. She said that “many of us are grateful they did not try to bully their way into the township. I appreciate the mature business decision.”
Elaine Ashbrook Robertson, who is also a member of Clean Air and Water for Alexandria and St. Albans, said she feels vindicated that the comprehensive plan had succeeded in keeping industry out. She is also grateful that it was done in a civil manner, that during the zoning board meeting, “the crowd was polite.”
What concerns Robertson is that there are still two asphalt plants proposed for the southeast and northwest sides of Alexandria, and the fight against them is more complicated. The issue of zoning is different, because those sites were already zoned for manufacturing before the comprehensive plan was completed. “Things were different back then,” she said. “People did things with a handshake. Things weren’t enforced.”
Jim Lenner, the township administrator, and lead author of the comprehensive plan, reiterated how important it is to not stray from the township development plan.
“In the face of unprecedented growth, adhering to a comprehensive land-use plan becomes paramount, as it lays the foundation for responsible and sustainable development,” he said. “As population and development escalate, the pressure on land resources intensifies, making thoughtful planning essential to avoid haphazard growth and its associated negative consequences.”
Doug Swift writes for TheReportingProject.org, the nonprofit news organization of the Denison University Journalism Program, which is sponsored in part by the Mellon Foundation. firstname.lastname@example.org