River Rd. issue could spur zoning changes elsewhere

A zoning issue on River Road in Conewango Township could spark a change to the language of the county zoning ordinance.

The Warren County Planning and Zoning Commission heard a presentation from County Planner Dan Glotz and Zoning Officer Aaron Kalkbrenner during its recent meeting.

Glotz said that prior to the revision of the zoning ordinance in 2008, residential development was permissible in districts zoned industrial. At the suggestion of a consultant, language allowing such development was removed during that 2008 revision.

He informed the commission that a request had been made to build on property along River Road where the properties are, “residential in character but industrial in zoning.”

Because of the 2008 change in the language, no such development can occur.

A meeting is planned with the Planning and Zoning office and the Conewango Township supervisors to discuss the issue.

Kalkbrenner outlined the office’s proposal, explaining that the area of River Road from the far western end near the self-storage units to Preston Road, with the exception of a few lots, would be rezoned residential, except for what is currently undeveloped which would remain industrial.

“It’s been industrial all along but we’ve allowed residential in industrial,” Glotz said.

Glotz explained that one option would be to go back to insert the language removed previously that would allow residential development in industrial districts. He said that the other option would be to rezone the residential portion residential-1 or residential-2 based on use. That approach would require approval by the county commissioners where adding the language back in would not because it is simply changing the text.

Commission member Jeff Zariczny noted that allowing residential in all districts is good.

“I like Jeff’s (Zariczny) idea because you’re not changing anything really,” commission member Cindy Paulmier said.

In the proposal, Kalkbrenner noted that anything on the road side of the railroad tracks would stay industrial as businesses are already located there.

“And there’s a precedence,” Zariczny said.

Commission member Joanna Freeburg asked, “Where did this come from?”

Kalkbrenner said that a property owner approached the planning office wanting to build, but was not permitted under the code. That individual was just exploring additional building and was not seeking to challenge the rule but, “some people in the near future might have a similar issue.”

“If you re-zoned it, one plus would be protection for the homes that are there,” commission member Gary Wareham said.

Glotz said a buffer could be required between the residential area and new industrial development.

Commission member Gary Olson said, “The majority of the houses were there prior to the zoning ordinance.”

While no vote was taken, the commission expressed a consensus to change the language to allow residential development in industrial districts. Glotz said that no action was needed at this time as he, “just wanted the thoughts of the commission.”