ETNA – A rezoning effort aimed at luring a Harley-Davidson dealership, training area and motor-sport museum to Etna Township recently crossed the finish line after nearly three months of debate.
The Etna Township Board of Trustees approved a rezoning previously recommended by the Etna Township Zoning Commission.
The trustees attached four amendments to the rezoning before approving it by a 3-0 vote. The final two amendments prevent the 14-acre parcel on the northwest side of the Ohio 310/Interstate 70 interchange from being used for some specific business uses.
Aside from the dealership, the developers hope to use some of the acreage to lure two upscale sit-down restaurants to the location. If that fails, the developers have an array of options, but they are barred by the two amendments from bringing in uses such as general rental centers, consumer goods rentals, used or new car lots, fuel dealers, repossession services and outdoor advertising businesses.
The trustees approved the amendments at a March 21 session.
Prior to that meeting, the trustees on March 18 attached two other amendments to the rezoning. They mandate that any sidewalks comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act and that any dumpsters be surrounded by an enclosure that is at least one foot higher than the tallest dumpster.
The trustees asked the developers on March 18 to reduce the list of potential property uses but in the end they left most of those items in the resolution recommended by the zoning commission. The list, which covers several pages, came from the North American Industry Classification System. The trustees reasoned that the expense of property at the busy Ohio 310/Interstate 70 interchange would keep undesirable businesses away.
In the end, the trustees decided to give development flexibility to the new property owners to demonstrate that Etna is, as termed by Trustee John Carlisle, a “business friendly community.”
“I want to give them some options but at the same time not give away the farm,” Carlisle said.
Carlisle and Trustee Randy Foor said that “90 percent” of the permissible businesses in the resolution “would not be able to afford the land.”
“I agree with that for the most part,” Trustee Jeff Johnson said.
Johnson was the trustee who urged the developers to reduce the list of uses even more.
Attorney Steve Cuckler said reductions actually began when the issue was before the zoning commission. He said the zoning panel took out about a dozen uses from the resolution and Cuckler said he and developer Bob Althoff, owner of A.D. Farrow Partnerships, also took out about the same amount.
Cuckler said that Althoff, who also heads H-D motorcycle dealerships in downtown Columbus and Sunbury, plans to move the nearby Pataskala dealership to the more visible Etna location along with 30 to 35 full- and part-time employees. He also plans to build a motorcycle training track and museum that highlights motor-sport’s legendary achievers. The remaining land, the developers hope, will attract two restaurants or a hotel, but they will not be involved in owning or building those projects.
The hearing process began in January and was continued several times over the ensuing months as the trustees debated the issue. It was also affected by a computer virus that hit Licking County government, which delayed information from the Licking County Prosecutor’s Office that the trustees wanted.
“I hope (the process) wasn’t as painful for you as it was for us,” Carlisle said after the trustees approved the rezoning.
Cuckler said it wasn’t and that he and Althoff have a goal of “making Etna proud” of its newest business.
Cuckler added the next steps involve architecture and engineering work and presenting a final development plan to the trustees. The developers also have to contend with demands from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other government agencies before construction can begin. Construction is likely a year or more away.
In two other developments from the March 21 special session:
- The trustees voted 3-0 to hold a public hearing at 7:15 p.m. May 2 at the Etna Township Community Center on the creation of a third Joint Economic Development District on the old Warner Farm near Interstate 70. The district would also include an initial 1.5 percent income tax on those who work at any company that is built in the economic zone.
- The trustees on March 21 went into a lengthy executive session to interview four applicants for township administrator and zoning inspector. The trustees said it is still possible the positions will remain merged into one but they advertised for both an administrator and zoning chief.
Published at Thu, 30 Mar 2017 21:00:00 +0000