WILMINGTON — Even before casting a vote next year on whether they want Washington Township to have zoning, residents there can be involved in the point at issue by giving input on a township map that shows the suggested zoning.
Washington Township Board of Trustees President Jon Sharp and Clinton County Assistant Prosecutor Justin Dickman met Monday with the Clinton County commissioners about the plan to put the question of zoning on the Washington Township ballot in spring 2021.
Dickman encourages township residents to provide feedback on the map. In fact, the public can give input on any parcel, he said.
“We don’t want to have folks zoned in a way that they don’t want to be zoned,” said Dickman.
The “resounding rationale” for adopting zoning is to enable the county to come in and enforce the blighted properties issue, he said.
Sharp for his part said one thing that needs to be communicated in the run-up to the voting is that a property owner can seek and obtain a variance for a particular project despite the adoption of zoning. A variance is the relaxation of the zoning regulations with respect to a specific lot, granted by the Board of Appeals. The variance can be granted where, owing to a condition peculiar to the property, a literal enforcement of a zoning regulation would result in unnecessary hardship or practical difficulty, according to Clinton County’s zoning provisions.
Clinton County Building & Zoning Department Manager Walt Daniel said an example of a variance situation would be if a house currently is 85 feet back from the center of a road, while zoning requires it to be 105 feet back and the property owner wants to build a front porch. The property owner would need to get a variance.
Dickman said it’s his experience here that the Clinton County Building & Zoning Department is “not the ‘Secret Police for Zoning’. They work with people.”
Sharp said the primary zoning-related concerns of Washington Township residents are blighted properties that need cleaning up, as well as not having people live in campers as campers don’t have running water and most don’t have a toilet facility.
“One man said Cuba looks bad, with different campers living in the yards down there,” said Sharp.
A public hearing, where the suggested zoning map will be on display, is tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10 at the Washington Township equipment building. In addition, the map should be available soon at the Clinton County Building & Zoning online site.
A zoning map has to have — and show — a zoning district classification for every parcel in the township, Dickman said.
Examples of different types of zoning districts are, in part: Agriculture and Open Space Preservation District (A-1); General Agriculture District (A-2); Agriculture — Residential Transition District (A-3); and Rural Residential District (R-R).
And to give you a sense of zoning purpose and parameters, those last two districts, A-3 and R-R, have this description: “To protect agricultural land and the rural character and yet provide for a variety of residential living opportunities at rural densities.”
As was noted at an October commissioners meeting, the existing use of a property will be “grandfathered in” and therefore will not be prohibited, the assistant prosecutor reiterated.
Daniel said Washington Township residents with questions can call him. He said in his opinion, the more information residents have about zoning, the more likely they’ll be in favor of it.
Of Clinton County’s 13 townships, all have zoning except Washington and Clark Townships. You can access the zoning regulations in their entirety by clicking on Clinton County Zoning Resolution 2014.v2020 found on the Zoning page of the Clinton County Building & Zoning site.
Clinton County commissioners voted Monday to proceed with the Washington Township zoning question being placed on the ballot.
Washington Township encompasses 27.3 square miles, and 17,484 acres. The township is situated south of Union Township and Wilmington, and includes the unincorporated village of Cuba.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.