JACKSON CENTER — Jackson Center Council postponed making a decision on a controversial zoning measure that would change a portion of residential area on the north side of the village from R1- residential to I1-Industrial to allow for the construction of a new manufacturing facility and driveway at Airstream Trailers Inc.
At the June 12 meeting, a larger than normal number of local residents assembled to voice their fears about how a proposed change in zoning would affect the area and living conditions there. Concerns ranged from an increase in noise from the manufacturing process and semi traffic to safety issues and property values.
Airstream purchased the property from John R. Lenhart for $56,000 on March 1, 2016, to build a 275,000 square foot manufacturing facility that will employ approximately 100 people. Besides concerns about noise and bright lights shining in the windows of nearby homes at night, a key matter of concern is the noise and safety issues related to the semi-trucks entering and exiting the facility from Main Street via a new drive that will cut between two existing homes. Some residents were concerned about trucks coming and going at all hours of the day and night, while others voiced concerns about the safety of the children playing in the residential area. Other residents voiced concerns about how “having a factory in their backyard” will affect property values.
After opening remarks by Mayor Scott Klopfenstein, Village Administrator Bruce Metz noted he had spoken with officials from Airstream Trailers Inc. and that they were in the process of developing a list of facts pertaining to the proposed construction.
“Airstream is trying to come up with ways to address issues with lights and noise and I feel more time is needed to inform the public of their intent and give our folks a chance to think about the situation. I think we should leave the ordinance tabled until our next meeting,” said Metz.
Since the ordinance was already tabled no further issue was taken.
Zoning Officer Ed Maxwell commented on the zoning subject noting, “Airstream seemed shocked about the effect they have seemingly had on the residential area and hopes to address present and future plans and how they would affect living conditions in the area. They are looking at other options that will work for all concerned.”
Metz noted the village plans to make all information gathered available to the residents before the next meeting. Klopfenstein also noted Airstream’s willingness to cooperate saying, “Airstream seems very willing to work with the community to come up with a reasonable solution to any concerns.”
In other business, council passed a resolution authorizing the village administrator to enter into a contract with WSOS Community Action Commission of Fremont, Ohio, which administers and operates the Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP). The purpose of the contract is to initiate a GIS mapping project that will identify and define the village’s infrastructure.
“A good way to look at this is to consider it an ‘inventory of our infrastructure,’ a map that will describe and identify the locations of things like our sewage system, electrical provisions, and storm water drainage. The mapping system will also show all the curb stops, water taps, manholes, valve boxes, fireplugs, etc. and will be an awesome asset for operational efficiency,” Metz said.
The program will cost $37,500 over four years as all the information is assessed and gathered. Once finished this information will be available for maintenance in future planning endeavors.
The council’s Wage and Benefits Committee noted an increase in salary for the village administrator from $71,108.04 per year to $75,000.03. This moves Metz from a 5B to a 5D on the village’s pay scale. Klopfenstein noted the salary increase reflected the village’s appreciation for all Metz has accomplished over the years and the fact that he can be depended upon to do his very best for Jackson Center.
“We wanted to thank Bruce for all that he gets done and this extra compensation is a token of our appreciation for all the extra hours that he puts in and behind the scenes effort that typically goes unnoticed.”
Councilman Ken Gloyeske noted how demanding the administrator’s job has become, saying, “There is a lot going on in the village of Jackson Center. We’ve never been so busy in all the years I’ve been in council and I’m thankful we have someone like Bruce handling our affairs. Among other things, Metz has procured nearly $2 million in grant money for various projects in Jackson Center in the last year and his knowledge and expertise is greatly appreciated.”
Metz said the village took delivery of a new bucket truck at the cost of $143,000, it will replace their small truck purchased in 2008.
Metz also noted that Project Bambi (improvements at Airstream Drive) are nearly complete. Street lights are up, traffic control arms are in place, and the project should be completed by July 1st as planned. Metz also reported on the progress for construction of the new building at the wastewater treatment plant.
“We will be pouring the floor tomorrow and everything is on schedule,” he said.
Metz said construction of the water retention pond is moving forward and that plans for the solar field are on track. Metz reported on progress for the new Casey’s General Store on West Pike Street.
“The houses are down and tree removal is under way; now it’s a hurry up and wait situation until permits are processed,” said Metz.
Council then went into executive session for the purpose of discussing pending litigation.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.