In one sense, Brookfield Trustee Ron Haun had just what he wanted: a room full of pro-zoning residents for a meeting about an aspect of zoning.
But, the message from the audience was clear: It’s not a good time to talk about zoning again.
The trustees met July 20, and Haun wanted them to agree to seek a legal opinion on spot zoning. Although spot zoning usually refers to having a parcel of land zoned one use classification that is different from surrounding parcels, Haun used the term to define having zoning in one or more voting precincts, while the rest of the community is unzoned.
Brookfield currently does not have zoning, which is the regulation of land use. Voters last nixed the idea in 2017 and 2018.
Haun said he had been talking to a Columbus law firm about providing information on spot zoning,
“He told me it would be between $300 and $400. Period,” Haun said of the cost.
Although many people presumed Haun wanted to take this step so trustees could place it on the ballot, he said that was not the case. He just wanted the information to be on file so that, if a group of residents want to pursue zoning in their precinct at some time in the future, the information would be there.
“I don’t wanna see it on the ballot,” he said.
Resident Judy Radachy asked why Haun would bring up the issue now.
“I wanted to get the answers,” Haun said. “So that they can have it.”
Referring to the fact that Haun has said he will retire as a trustee in December, Radachy asked, “Is this a bucket list for you, Ron?”
“No, it’s not, Judy,” he said.
“It sure sounds like a bucket list,” Radachy said.
Former Trustee Dion Magestro agreed with Radachy’s assessment, and added. “Why even get any information if you’re not interested? If you’re not proposing this, why would you even spend a dollar on getting information? I would think a lot of this stuff is available on-line.”
He noted that no residents are driving a zoning initiative, and argued that the trustees have bigger issues to consider, such as promoting the 3.5-mill continuous road levy referendum they have placed on the November ballot, and deciding how to spend more than $850,000 in American Rescue Plan funds.
Resident Chuck Fizet said Haun has hurt the road levy effort just by mentioning the word zoning.
Haun bristled at the thought of the talk of zoning hurting the road levy.
“I have a much higher opinion of our residents, whether they’re for zoning or against zoning, than that,” he said.
Resident Shannon Devitz, who served on the zoning promotion committee, acknowledged she had talked to the trustees in the past about a spot zoning effort for Precinct K – which includes Valley View and Brookfield Estates – but added, “We (residents) should be in control of that.”
“I appreciate the investigative work that could be done, but just not right now,” Devitz said. “That word is not a good word to say right now. It was a horrible experience for me. Let’s focus on the road levy.”
Several people said having a precinct with a different set of rules than the rest of the township would further divide an already divided citizenry.
“Could they do a homeowner’s association instead?” said resident Jason Nicholson.
Trustee Mark Ferrara said the idea of spot zoning is interesting, but he would want it to be driven by residents.
“You’re here for five months,” Ferrara said to Haun. “I want to maximize your time with us. I think we have a lot of projects out there.”
“I have issues with discussing zoning on any level after the people of this town told us they don’t want it,” said Trustee Dan Suttles.
In the end, Haun decided not to ask for the legal opinion.
“I usually don’t base my opinion on eight or 10 people,” he said. “Just hearing from you right now, I would say that I’ll table it. I’m glad that we had a discussion about it. I’m not even gonna bring it up for a motion.”