August 21, 2003


Board says it will change parts of airport zoning plan

The members of the Springfield-Beckley Airport Zoning Commission discussed last week ways to soften proposed zoning changes that, as currently drafted, restrict residential building in some areas close to the airport.

However, some opposed to the changes remain concerned that the commission took no official action on the matter during a work session on Wednesday, Aug. 13.

“Until a new final draft is issued with clear wording, nothing has changed,” said Clifton resident David Hild, who attended the meeting. “We’re on hold, waiting and wondering what will happen next.”

Though the commission said it would amend the proposed zoning plan, it has yet to officially ratify those changes.

The work session took place a week after an Aug. 6 public hearing in Yellow Springs at which more than 200 people, mainly residents in the airport area who would be affected by the zoning plan, made clear their anger over the proposed changes.

The zoning plan would divide the airport vicinity into four zones, including one zone, AZD-2, in which all new residential construction would be prohibited, including the rebuilding of a home that is destroyed by fire or natural disaster. In that zone, all additions or changes to existing homes are also banned.

The building restrictions, especially the prohibition against building a destroyed home, sparked the most protest at the Yellow Springs public hearing.

At the Aug. 13 work session, Zoning Commission members responded to the concerns they had heard the previous week, Phil Tritle, the Clark County Planning director, said.

“This is the reason we have public hearings, to get public comment,” Tritle said in a phone interview. “The commission received many comments about what people didn’t like. We’re trying to do what we can do to make sure there’s no conflict between the airport and the surrounding area.”

John Struewing, the chairman of the Yellow Springs Planning Commission and a member of the Airport Zoning Commission, agreed that the commission wants to respond to public concerns.

“The purpose of the public hearing is to listen, and there was an overwhelming amount of complaining,” he said. “Initially, we were working in a vacuum. We stepped too far and now we need to turn around and go back.”

At the Aug. 13 session, commission members agreed to remove the restriction against rebuilding destroyed homes in AZD-2 and to allow for additions to existing structures, Tritle said.

They are also considering allowing residential construction on empty lots in AZD-2, as long as the lots are at least 40 acres large.

The zoning changes, the first such changes since 1966, were requested by the Springfield-Beckley Airport Zoning Board, which formed the Zoning Commission to address the issue.

At the Aug. 6 public hearing, Dick Higgins, chairman of the commission, said that the airport needed to make changes in the zoning around the airport in order to receive funds from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Some who attended the Aug. 13 meeting felt relieved by the commission members’ verbal agreement to drop the most prohibitive building restrictions.

“They made things a lot more palatable,” said Bill Waddle, who lives on Springfield-Jamestown Road and who had expressed strong opposition to the changes at the Aug. 6 hearing.

However, Waddle said that he’s still concerned that someone with two children who owns a 40-acre property would be prohibited from dividing it between his children. “I still have trouble with that,” he said.

Ann Shaw, who with her husband, Russell Shaw, owns a farm in the AZD-2 area, told the commission members last week that they are “gratified that you seem to be dropping some of the more outrageous restrictions.”

But Shaw remains concerned that the commission never personally notified those who live in the affected area, and instead relied on ads about the changes in the Springfield News-Sun and the Yellow Springs News.

Shaw also echoed others’ concerns that the commission took no official action last Wednesday.

“We’ll get better sleep when we know for sure there’s a better draft,” she said.

Dan Young, the CEO of Young’s Jersey Dairy, expressed strong opposition to the zoning changes at the Aug. 6 hearing but did not attend last week’s meeting. He said that he was “encouraged” by what he’s read of the commission members’ discussion.

Still, he said, he remains concerned about the zoning changes and the process involved. “My goal at this moment is to stop the process until we can better understand” what the changes are, he said.

The commission members took no official action on the zoning changes last week because the changes they suggested need to be written down before they are voted on, Tritle said.

That vote will probably take place at the group’s next working session, he said, although more working sessions will be held if necessary before voting on the changes.

Once the commission has officially revised the draft, it will again hold a public session before submitting the revised draft to the Airport Zoning Board. The Zoning Board will also hold a public session before it votes on the zoning changes, he said.

—Diane Chiddister