Clinton Twp. zoning issue on ballot

By David J. Coehrs - [email protected]

Residents in the unincorporated areas of Clinton Township will decide Nov. 8 whether to repeal zoning there, despite a belief by the trustees that it serves the township well.

A petition circulated by resident Roger Freytag and bearing 147 signatures –three times the number required–was filed June 14 with the Fulton County Board of Elections after being approved by the township trustees. It will appear on the ballot as Issue 3.

The zoning repeal would affect all unincorporated areas of Clinton Township, and would not involve the City of Wauseon.

Trustee Ivan Hite said he’s confident he speaks for all the trustees when saying they are satisfied with the township’s zoning law, enacted in 1987.

“This has been helpful and has worked for us,” he said. “Zoning helps keep control of all areas of development. We are definitely in favor of it.”

Hite said zoning assures the township maintains good growth patterns, keeps commercial property in appropriate areas, and preserves agricultural land against the encroaching urban sprawl. He said zoning law also protects the groundwater supply.

“There’s good planning that goes into this,” Hite said. “Zoning is there to give residents the tools to work with to make the landscape of the township to their liking. It can’t do everything, but it helps to control the management issues.”

The township Zoning Board is comprised of residents, and offers a Board of Appeals for residents who disagree with its practices.

“There are many options for people who might not accept zoning,” Hite said.

He’s not surprised by the number of petitioners, “but that doesn’t mean they’ll vote for it. There’s a possibility they may have signed it without knowing it was a repeal.”

Trustee Leonard Richer said zoning laws need to be maintained to protect the township from structures like Freytag’s house. The trustees mailed him a notice earlier this year to clean up the property.

“It’s falling down, with junk laying all over the place,” Richer said. “His home hasn’t been finished in years.”

He believes the trustees’ notice is what prompted Freytag’s petition. He said the trustees plan to distribute a flyer to residents explaining what zoning entails.

Freytag declined comment.

Without zoning, it would likely be easy for undesirable businesses to spring up in the area, Richer said.

“We have a nice-looking township, and we’d like to keep it that way,” he said. “We’ve had zoning for a lot of years, and I feel it’s done a lot of good.”

By David J. Coehrs

[email protected]

David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.

David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.