Zoning continuation hearing of the Catawba Island Township Trustees was held
April 5, 2005 in the conference room with all present; also Pat Cerny, Clint Mauk of Black Swamp Conservancy, Susanne Cervenka of Sandusky Register, Kristina Smith of News Herald and seven residents.
Chairman William Rofkar opened the continuation hearing of Zoning Application 589632 to rezone sixty-five acres from “A” to :R-1” filed by the Svete Partnership. Clerk read letter received from Bethany Akins, 2821 Sand Road, Port Clinton and a letter was received from Joseph Svete requesting a continuation of the Zoning hearing. Gary Mortus explained the request to continue the Zoning hearing for an indefinite time being there is someone interested in purchasing the property. Walter Wehenkel of Ottawa Regional Planning Commission stated this can be done but Board needs to act on it tonight to determine a definite date.
Clint Mauk of Perrysburg and one of the founding members of Black Swamp Conservancy stated they have been working on purchase of the property over a year ago when they had the money and gave an offer but unfortunately the owner sold it to Mr. Svete and I am not sure why. The citizens of this community have shown they do not want development of this property and we are negotiating with Mr. Svete to purchase this property but his asking price is 1.3 million dollars. We have given him a letter of intent to purchase the property and are trying to negotiate with him and if we can get enough money the property will be purchased un the the name of Black Swamp Conservancy and then it will be donated to the Township of Catawba Island. There are a lot of ifs being we don’t have the money but thinks Mr. Svete would be glad to get out from under it. This property is so valuable as a wildlife preserve and hopefully this can be put together by the first of August.
Meredith Beck stated the citizens would be glad to help but what can they do? Mr. Mauk stated Black Swamp is a fairly small organization but we do have money in an endowment fund but will need more money to meet this price.
Reggie Langford as a citizen of Catawba thanked Mr. Mauk for his effort to keep this property undeveloped.
Jim Stouffer asked if the Township has financial resources for this and Bill Rofkar stated he only heard of this tonight and doesn’t know what the specifices are.
Catherine Pfeiffer asked about the continuance and what will happen if you vote tonight?
Bill stated he has been pretty uncomfortable with the continuance of the hearings and now an indefinite continuance. We have a specific request to rezone from “A” to R-1 and Zoning Commission has acted on it and it takes a unanimous vote of this Board to overrule them. Said from the first meeting that he will definitely not modify the any request as it was important enough to get on the ballot last November and is not in favor of modifying or overruling the request.
Gary Mortus stated there are two options: one option is to over rule the Zoning Commission by unanimous vote which would make it R-1 and would be open for referendum which might make the negotiations with Mr Svete on purchasing at a little disadvantage. The other option would be not to over rule the Zoning Commission and vote with their recommendation and then the Township residents and this Board run ths risk of Mr. Svete taking it to Common Pleas Court and getting it over ruled so he would get his R-1 zoning. A continuation would at least leave it open for negotiations to go forward with the purchase of the property. In speaking with Mr. Svete yesterday he thought the possible purchase of the property was one of the better resolutions for the options out there and he was in favor of that What he didn‘t want to do was close the door on this if the purchase did not go through in August and to continue the hearing would give us the option to vote on the original request of R-1.
Ross Pffeifer stated his concern is if you bring this to vote and if it is over turned it could go to referendum again for the November ballot. Feels the continuation of the hearing would be best for everything and does not take anything away from anybody.
Bob Schroeder stated he feels the same way Bill stated are we catering to Mr. Svete
If we turn this down he is not required to refile for anything and can let it ride. Residents know what this Board is doing and Mr. Svete knows how we feel on this issue.
Gary stated if the Township turns it down and Mr. Svete goes to Court and we lose, many citizens would be really upset. Continuation would give us the opportunity to find out if the property can be purchased.
Bill stated there is already a Court case scheduled and if the implication of this Board to be brought into Court again is ridiculous because he pushed the Court issue a long time ago and that is why it is on the docket. Gary stated that is a different matter and if Mr. Svete gets R-1 he could do whatever he wants and there would be no sale.
Bob Schroeder stated it would not have to be continued indefinitely. Bill stated the negotiations with Black Swamp does not have anything to do with the decision of the rezoning request to R-1. Not concerned about offending Mr. Svete as he knows my standing but am very concerned about continuing these hearings.
Jim Stouffer stated Mr. Svete asked about unlimited continuation of this hearing but the Board would not have to continue it indefinitely.
A motion was made by Robert Schroeder and seconded by Gary Mortus to honor Mr. Svete‘s request and continue this hearing until September 6, 2005.
Bill stated his concern about time elements on Zoning issues and hope we don‘t run into a problem with this request. Gary stated that Walter advised according to Ohio Revised Code as long as the hearing was not closed it could be continued..
The vote: William Rofkar-no, Gary Mortus-aye, Robert Schroeder-aye.
Bob Schroeder asked residents what they thought about putting a one mill levy on the ballot to purchase this land? Ross Pfeiffer stated very much in favor of doing that.
A motion was made by Gary Mortus and seconded by Robert Schroeder to adjourn. All voted aye..