Milan Township voters may have the final word on whethert o approve a zoning change for a piece of land at Erie County's landfill.
But first, officials at Erie County's election board have their own decision to make: Whether a petition that seeks to force a vote has enough valid signatures.
The township's trustees voted 3-0 on May 28 to rezone 3.77 acres of county land at the landfill from agricultural to light industrial zoning.
The change was made to allow Bio-Gas Technologies, a Norwalk company, to move to Erie County, bringing along five jobs. The company specializes in generating electricity from burning gas produced by rotting garbage at landfills.
Residents opposed to the rezoning filed a petition late last week seeking to reverse the decision, said Colleen Arthur, zoning inspector for Milan Township.
The petition will be presented to the trustees when they meet Wednesday. After that, it will go to the Erie County Board of Elections, where officials will decide whether the petition has enough valid signatures. The petition has to have at least 88 valid signatures, or 5 percent of the people in Milan Township who voted in the election for governor.
"I don't know how many names are on it or whether or not they are even valid," Arthur said Monday.
The petition likely will go to the election board Thursday, Arthur said.
Sarah L. Herbert, the Columbus attorney hired by the petitioners, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Jennifer Ferback, deputy director of the election board, said the board should be able to decide within a few hours whether the petition is valid.
Board officials always follow the same procedure when checking signatures to verify a petition. It doesn't matter whether it's a petition seeking a vote on an issue or a petition seeking to nominate a candidate, Ferback said.
The election board will be checking if every signature came from a registered voter, and whether each person actually lives in Milan Township, Ferback said.
The address for each signature needs to match the address on file for the voter registration, and the signature has to appear to match the signature the voter scribbled when registering to vote, Ferback said.
"When we pull a person's name on the computer, their signature automatically comes up on the screen," Ferback said.