JACKSON CENTER — Proposed changes in zoning for three properties in the village of Jackson Center were discussed during a public hearing Monday night.
Approximately 10 village residents came to hear a presentation by local builder Todd Ratermann with Ratermann Custom Home Builders Inc., of Sidney, Ohio, to ask questions and share concerns they had about proposed changes.
The Jackson Center Planning Commission had met July 23, 2018, to consider a request from land-owners Todd C. Ratermann, American Legion – Scherer Post 439, and Kevin and Jill Bergman to rezone their properties on 619 E. College St., 627 E. College St., and 624 E. College St. respectively from R-I, single-family residential, to R-3 multi-family residential.
Changes in zoning would permit Ratermann to construct a single floor multi-unit family apartment building on 2.9 acres, and would change the status of the American Legion from a ‘Conditional Use” under the R-1 rating to a “permitted use” under the R-3. The Bergman property is a non-conforming, pre-existing multi-family apartment complex in an R-1 single family district. Rezoning would bring it into compliance.
After reading the rationale for the meeting, Mayor Scott Klopfenstein turned the floor over to Jackson Center Zoning Officer and Community Development Director Ed Maxwell, who gave an in-depth overview of what had transpired concerning preparations for zoning changes and brought everyone in attendance up to date on the current standings and exactly what was planned for the future.
Several questions were asked but it was quickly determined that most concerns were rooted in misunderstandings and rumors. One resident expressed concerns about her property taxes going up based on the assumption that her property was also being rezoned but such was not the case; another thought the apartments were a type of government housing and shared concerns about the effects it would have on the value of their homes.
“This is not a government housing project, it will not change anyone else’s zoning status, and the American Legion is not up for sale,” said Maxwell referring to rumors that the Legion was being sold.
Resident Gerald Miller asked why this particular area was chosen to build R-3 housing instead of elsewhere and Maxwell explained when planning how and where to designate various types of property it is customary to develop newly assigned properties in the realm of existing properties with the same designation.
“We tend to keep commercial properties in the downtown area, manufacturing on the edge of town and R-1 residential next to places where houses already exist,” Maxwell said. “And I am pleased to announce that this new apartment building will be built, owned, and maintained by Todd Ratermann and if you know his reputation, you know this is going to be a very nice addition to our village.”
Next Ratermann took the floor and held up a large architectural rendering of the proposed apartment building and shared a brief description of the layout.
“There will be five units in the apartment complex, each consisting of 1,250 square feet with a one-car garage and a patio. We build nice homes and I will do the same with these apartments. They are all brick construction on the exterior and we use good quality materials for the inside; they will feature the latest in energy efficient lighting, heating and air-conditioning, and appliances. We hope to start very soon and have the apartments ready by the end of the year,” said Ratermann.
One resident expressed concerns about having good neighbors to which Ratermann replied, “We already have a good screening process in place to make sure we get good renters; this is a big investment for me and I want to maintain the value of my property and stay in good standing with the residents who already live here. My wife is from Jackson Center so we have a personal connection here, and my father-in-law who is also a resident will be overseeing the outside maintenance and upkeep of the units.”
After Ratermann spoke, Klopfenstein shared his excitement about having the new apartments.
“When Todd originally came to us with his proposal there was no doubt on quality and intent, and I am very confident in his ability to provide some nice housing,” Klopfenstein said. “This is a stepping stone to the future growth of our community. Todd cares about his neighbors and I know he will do everything in his power to get the job done right.
“This is a very exciting time for us and I’m glad to see so many nice things happening for our town. We will address this situation at our regularly scheduled council meeting immediately following this hearing and will hear the first reading of an ordinance to change the zoning, but there is still plenty of time to address questions and concerns before our next regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 10, 2018, at 7 p.m,” Klopfenstein said.
Maxwell said he felt satisfied all in attendance were on the same page and encouraged those attending and anyone else who may have any questions to call him.
“I appreciate everyone coming tonight and don’t hesitate to call me if you have any further questions, if I don’t have an answer, I’ll look into things until I find one for you,” Maxwell said.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.