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Officials map out zoning concerns

Andy Ouriel • Oct 22, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Similarly, Perkins Township officials need a cheat sheet of sorts to understand a 300-page document detailing all-new zoning laws.    

Monday afternoon at Township Hall, a few officials — including the three trustees — quickly interrupted chief building official John Curtis’ presentation on new zoning laws.

The problem? The document’s complexity and length.

As Curtis explained certain changes, some members halted his presentation and asked for a simpler breakdown.

“I want to know what changes there are,” said Gary Gast, a Perkins zoning board of appeals member. “If I’m an elected official, I want to know exactly what I’m approving. Can you (produce) a one-sheeter, saying what has changed?”

Officials indicated they didn’t want to fail residents by hastily approving a document they know nothing about.

“If this takes two years, it should take two years,” said Kula Hoty Lynch, another zoning commission member. “Whatever it takes, that’s the time we should spend to do it correctly.”

Hoty Lynch, Hoty’s corporate counsel, also voiced concerns about Perkins facing a potential lawsuit if trustees carelessly approve the zoning changes. More specifically, she questioned whether they could forbid churches from being built in certain neighborhoods.

A month ago, outrage from residents forced trustees to deny letting Jehovah’s Witnesses build a worship center on Hull Road behind Meijer.

“We have this ‘not in my backyard’ attitude now,” Hoty Lynch said. “You are not allowing places of worship anywhere. I would be very careful on things like that. You can essentially run into a civil rights lawsuit.”

Trustees scheduled Monday’s presentation as a first reading of sorts so community members could better understand possible zoning changes.

They took no action, other than simply reviewing the document and discussing some of the changes. It’s unknown when officials will discuss the zoning changes, let alone when trustees will vote on the issue.

Curtis said he understands the concerns.

“The reason for zoning is to protect the community,” he said. “You don’t want to go out and build a $250,000 house and all of a sudden have a 7-Eleven move next door. Zoning is not something everyone is happy about, but in the long run, it’s the best thing we can do in the community.”

At a glance

Perkins chief building official John Curtis offered several reasons the township’s zoning code needs to be updated for the first time since 1998:

• Allow residents to visit the township’s website and easily find answers.

• User-friendly codes to entice new residents and businesses.

• Encourage more “green” designs.

• Address new signage, such as electronic message boards.

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