Petition aimed at South Point zoning

Published 10:00 am Monday, November 28, 2011


SOUTH POINT — Two separate actions — one-council driven, one-citizen driven — are in the works with the goal of changing the Village of South Point’s zoning ordinance.

One would tighten the current ordinance, the other would expand it. Both are expected to come before the village council on Dec. 6.

Email newsletter signup

According to Mayor Ron West, the council plans to discuss a new zoning ordinance written, with elected-official input, by village attorney Randy Lambert. It would remove some property uses currently allowed in residential areas.

Also at that meeting, South Point property owner Joe Freeman plans to present a petition to place a proposed amendment to the village’s current zoning ordinance on March’s primary election ballot.

Freeman hopes to win support to amend section 15 of the current ordinance, which allows a property to be used for “offices for physicians, surgeons, dentists and other health care professionals” as long as there is written consent of 60 percent of adjacent property owners and off-street parking equivalent to one space for each 400 feet of floor area.

The amended ordinance would still require the signatures of 60 percent of adjacent landowners but it would allow buildings “in areas north of Washington Avenue, South of Market Street, east of Ninth Street and west of U.S. 52 that are zoned as residential district” to be used for either “religious services or professional office use of any kind.”

Freeman purchased the former South Point Elementary School on Washington Street. His subsequent plans to convert it into multi-use building housing a church, numerous residential condominiums as well as professional offices including those of his home health care business, that has spurred the recent community debate in South Point.

Freeman said his petition drive is a direct result of action by his opponents lobbying the village council to change the zoning ordinance to prevent him from using his property for commercial purposes.

“I told the community I was going to seek a variance and they came out against that. So, I said I would do it under the current zoning (laws). Now they want to change that. So, I have no choice now but to go back to my original plan (to seek a variance and use the property for medical offices),” he said.

To be considered for placement on the March primary ballot, the petition would need to be turned in to the village clerk no later than 4 p.m. on Dec. 7, according to Board of Elections Deputy Director Eric Bradshaw. According to Ohio Revised Code, it would then be sent to the BOE for certification.

Bradshaw said the petition would need to contain the valid signatures of 118 registered South Point voters, or 10 percent of the 1,178 votes cast in the 2010 gubernatorial election. He suggested the petition bear at least 350 to 400 signatures to ensure it meets the minimum requirement needed.

There were 3,261 registered voters in the Village of South Point as of Wednesday.

Village officials say the zoning ordinance — parts of which date back to the early 1980s — is long overdue for revisiting.

West said Wednesday that the council’s proposed ordinance is based largely on the results of an October special meeting — attended by many of Freeman’s opponents who spoke out en masse for tighter zoning restrictions than the village currently has — but may not be as far reaching as some residents would like.

The night after the special meeting more South Point residents, many of them Freeman supporters, attended the village’s regular November meeting to speak out against the council overhauling the ordinance.

Both sides have been heard, said West.

“There are some things that we are not going to be able to take out of it because it affects the rest of the village,” he said, speaking of the draft ordinance. “We’re designing it now to represent the rest of the village.”

“I don’t know exactly what the council will approve and disapprove,” he said, noting he will only be asked to vote in the event of a tie.

“We have to try to protect not just the residents over there but all the residents of South Point,” he said. “I want to do the right thing by everybody but sometimes that is a hard thing to do.”

West said it will take three readings and three votes of approval for the ordinance to become law.