With so much adverse commentary appearing in the local paper over the Vermilion Township Zoning Commission's recent decision to approve the re-zoning of Willow Creek Golf Course from AG/RES to PUD, as a member of that commission, I should like to explain my position. (I am sure, too, that my fellow members will agree with much of what I say, but I speaking only for myself.)
Vermilion Township's tax base has been severely eroded with the loss of Ford and Lithonia, and the real estate taxes for the Vermilion School District have escalated to make up the deficit. But our kids must have a good education, and as a former teacher, I believe we must support the schools. Over the long run, Willow Creek would add millions to that eroded tax base.
I did consider what effect it might have on Darrow Road residents; but even with a projected traffic count of 1200 cars per day, they will not all be on the road at the same time, and Darrow Road will not become a NASCAR.
Walter Jalowiec explained that he was working on several options for sanitary sewers, but that he planned to install what was required at his expense. The Vermilion Disposal Plant has the capacity and since it was built with federal grant money, has certain guidelines it must follow. Annexation to the city is not in the picture, as it would have to go to a vote of the area residents.
After the Jalowiec presentation, there was an informal discussion among the commission members, and they told him that when he had worked out the various problems concerning traffic, wetlands, sanitary sewers and regional planning recommendations, to file his application for the rezoning with the zoning office, and the date for a public hearing would be set up.
On Feb. 26, 2007, Jalowiec filed his application. In it, he states he purchased Willow Creek in May 2006. At the December meeting, he told us that the golf course itself was in very poor condition, and would take quite a bit of work.
There are 173 acres in the Willow Creek development; 73 in the golf course itself, which leaves 100 acres which could be used for other purposes. Jalowiec would like some return on his investment, and that is why he proposed the housing development.
He can still build his maintenance buildings; he can still construct his walking paths, his club house and restaurant without rezoning, he can still build single family homes and he will still have to meet certain established criteria.
In Ohio's rural/semi-rural areas, agriculture is still king. Farming is still allowed in any zone in Vermilion Township.
When the commission went into a short executive session, it was to decide whether to accept the Erie Regional Planning recommendations, which we had just received that evening, or to approve the original plans to deny. At that time, none of us knew how the others felt. We accepted Regional Planning, and I stand by that decision.
member, vermilon township zoning commission.