Will Sabina voters adopt zoning districts?

By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@civitasmedia.com

SABINA — A November ballot proposal to zone the village is an outcome of an initiative petition that citizens circulated around town.

Supporters say the zoning, if approved by voters, is a simple, basic type of zoning that would provide guidelines so that land there can be used in a better way overall.

Opponents say the proposed zoning is not so pure and simple, and contains provisions they find concerning.

A supporter, businessman Thomas Foster of Sabina, said zoning protects property values and increases the marketability of property, especially residential. It does that by protecting residential neighborhoods from the undesirable effects of some industrial operations — effects such as harmful chemicals, unsanitary waste and excessive noise, he said.

Land-use guidelines also can provide for better traffic patterns in the town’s residential sections, he added.

But an opponent, Sabina Mayor Dean Hawk, thinks the proposed zoning ordinance is too restrictive toward home-based businesses.

Citing the proposed ordinance, he said the following could not be started as a home-based business in areas zoned Suburban Residential (S-R): motor vehicle repair or service, an animal hospital, barber or beauty shop, a dance studio, a doctor or dentist office, trailer rental, a restaurant, boarding houses, mortuary establishments and tea rooms.

Regarding parking guidelines in the ordinance, Foster said existing parking for existing businesses would not be changed. He said for his part, the question boils down to: “What businesses would not want to provide adequate parking for the business and its customers?”

Hawk, on the other hand, said, “Any new business opening downtown will need off-street parking to meet the requirements of this ordinance, and would be faced with obtaining variances to meet those requirements. It is hard enough to get people to choose to invest their treasure and effort here without adding such concerns.”

The mayor said zoning laws are “tremendous restrictions of freedom as they control what you can and can’t do with property that belongs to you.”

However, Foster said people are confounding the proposed land-use ordinance for Sabina with “full-blown” versions of zoning that include building and building maintenance codes. He said the Sabina proposal is a “vastly different tool” than is utilized in other parts of Clinton County.

Hawk said he and many other people are offended or outraged by a statement in the proposed ordinance about existing businesses that, if the proposed zoning is adopted, would not conform to the zoning in their designated district. Those businesses, though permitted to continue because they’re “grandfathered” as exceptions, “should not be encouraged to survive,” reads the phrase.

Foster said that part of the ordinance “does sound harsh,” but if a person reads everything in that section, it makes a little more sense. What’s basically being expressed in the whole section, according to Foster, is that the community shouldn’t be reproduced year after year in the same way it grew in the past 100 years.

Hawk said there will be costs to administer the zoning ordinance. Foster said it appears that administrative costs “can be offset by the user of the services as a fee for service.”

To see the proposed ordinance, visit the Village of Sabina’s website at www.sabinaohio45169.com and then, on the home page, click “here” under “Lewis’ Zoning Proposal.” Or interested people can go to the Sabina Municipal Building during business hours to see a copy.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.


By Gary Huffenberger