Center Township trustees place zoning issue before voters

LISBON – The proposed zoning plan for Center Township is on its way to the Nov. 4 ballot, where voters will decide the document’s fate.

The township trustees voted at Thursday’s meeting to place the measure on the ballot, but not without a last-minute change recommended by zoning opponent Darryl Muir.

The trustees were prepared at their June 26 meeting to place the plan on the ballot until Muir asked they first check on two things: First, could Lisbon residents vote on the plan? He was concerned because the village is located within the township.

This concern was addressed after the June meeting, when trustee Joe Csonka found a copy of the ballot language which clearly stated only those living in the unincorporated portion of the township could vote on the plan.

Muir was also concerned about wording in the plan that he believes would allow the trustees to appoint any township resident to the zoning commission and zoning appeals board, regardless of whether they lived in Lisbon.

Trustees deferred acting on the plan until Csonka could check with the Columbiana County Prosecutor’s Office, which is the township’s legal advisor, but he said they refused to make any last-minute changes and advised them to put the plan on the ballot as it was written.

Csonka indicated Muir’s concerns were legitimate, saying the committee that drafted the plan and the trustees “missed” the wording glitch.

To correct the problem, the trustees passed a resolution pledging that if the zoning plan should pass they would immediately amend it to say only those who lived in the unincorporated areas of the township can serve on the zoning commission and appeals board. The exact wording for this resolution was dictated by Muir, who was at Thursday’s meeting.

Muir, who formed a committee to lobby against voter passage of the plan, told the trustees he understand their position but is still opposed to the plan. “This isn’t against you guys. I’m against this,” he said, tapping the 110-page plan.

Csonka felt the same way. “There’s no hard feeling, We’re just putting it before the public” to let them decide whether they want zoning, he said.

Muir agreed this was the proper way to proceed. “The thing you said, ‘We’re putting it on the ballot. That’s the American way’ I agree. But what I’m doing is also the American way,” he said of his opposition.

In other action, trustee Ken Schreffler said he is investigating having the state undertake a traffic study of Lisbon-Dungannon and Trinity Church roads to determine a safe speed limit. Both roads have unposted speed limits, which means motorists can legally travel up to 55 mph on them. Schreffler said he believes it needs to be reduced.

Trustees also voted to contract with Great Lakes Construction to replace nearly 700 feet of guardrail and posts on Pritchard Avenue and Bluff Street for $8,750.