Rezoning request draws concern in Shalersville Twp.

By Heather Condley Record-Courier staff writer Published:

SHALERSVILLE - The township's zoning commission voted Thursday to recommend more than 180 acres on S.R. 44 be rezoned from agricultural to industrial despite opposition from area residents. About 30 residents attended Thursday's hearing, with many expressing their disapproval to rezone 187 acres across from the Portage County Airport as industrial. In a split decision the commission opted to see it changed. Commission members Phyllis Peters, Andy Youngblood and Harry Katkowski favored recommending the measure to township trustees, who will vote on the matter soon. Commissioners Dennis Luger and Robert Bowers opposed the recommendation. The heirs of property owner Ray Black, under the guidance of Frank Goodell, acting executor of the estate, are asking that all of the land be made industrial so they can sell it. About one-third of the property, which fronts S.R. 44, is already zoned industrial. The eastern two-thirds of the property are zoned agricultural rural residential. The Portage County Regional Planning Commission agreed Wednesday to recommend the rezoning to the township zoning commission. Its reasoning behind the decision was that rezoning the land industrial would be compatible with neighboring properties, namely the airport. Real estate agent Jack Kohl, who is working to sell the property, said while he has some interested parties, he doesn't have any specifics as to what kind of industry would be built on the property. "I don't know what kind of industry it would be, but most of the industries in Portage County are not heavy industries," Kohl said. "If someone buys it, it could cost $30,000 or $40,000 an acre to put in sewer and water. It wouldn't be done haphazardly. Economics wouldn't allow it." But several residents living near the Black property don't buy that argument and said once the rezoning is allowed, the township will lose all control over what is built and will be almost powerless against keeping other properties from going industrial. "We chose Shalersville because it's rural. If you start putting in industry, it'll be garbage just like Streetsboro," said a resident of Nicodemus Road, a street behind the Black property. "I'd rather pay four times the taxes than have industry." The resident was referring to the argument that bringing in industry helps the tax base for the schools. "We have a low tax base, and we always said we need some industry," Frank Goodell said. "The location and the fact that people are interested in it, maybe that is something we're looking for. We really need the industry." After the commission makes a recommendation to the township trustees, the trustees have 30 days to hold their own public hearing on the matter. The date of the hearing must be advertised in a newspaper of general circulation. The trustees will then have 30 days after the hearing to make their final decision.

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