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Wednesday, August 9th, 2006

Zoning decision is delayed

By Timothy Cox
Mercer County Board of Zoning Appeals members are close to approving a variance that would allow 84 park model homes to be built at Kozy Marina on the north shore of Grand Lake, but still delayed the decision another month.
Board members told Kozy Marina representative Ted Goodwin they would approve his request, but only with several extra conditions. One of the conditions is a fence between the Kozy Marina ground and the golf course next door off state Route 703 between Celina and St. Marys.
The fence was briefly debated between Goodwin and golf course owner Bob Paulus. Board members agreed to continue the hearing Sept. 12, giving the neighbors time to work out a proposal for a fence.
The delay won't affect the timeline for the Kozy Marina residential expansion; no new construction can begin until a central sewer system is available. County officials are working toward that goal, but the work is not expected to be completed until late 2007.
Many landowners along the lake have waited many years for a public sewer so they can develop their properties, Goodwin said. The Ohio EPA instituted the ban in the early 1970s to curb pollution of the lake by sewage runoff.
Kozy Marina's plan calls for 84 park model homes to be installed on a 10.9-acre parcel that also would have new lake channels cut into it. Park model homes are cottages affixed to permanent foundations and plans call for all lots to be fully served by water, sewer and gas. Goodwin has called the plan an "upscale campground."
Board members plan to attach several conditions if they eventually approve Goodwin's variance request.
Likely conditions on the zoning permit include the requirement to install a hedgerow or permanent tree buffer along state Route 703. Board members also plan to forbid year-round residence and plan to call for the water to only be available to the lots between April 1 and Oct. 15. The park model homes also would not be able to be used as part of a time-share program.
Goodwin said he agreed to those conditions.
The proposed fence, however, proved to be a stickier issue. Goodwin said the burden of paying for a fence - which would presumably be 1,800 feet or so long - should not fall entirely on him. Paulus has "screamed about wanting a fence" for years, Goodwin said, and so should be willing to help pay for it.
"If he wants a fence, I believe he needs to ante up," Goodwin said.
Paulus said he would be willing to mow around and maintain a fence, but said he would not help pay for it.
Goodwin said Paulus frequently complains about people trespassing on his land, so he should be willing to partner on the fence.
Paulus said people come to the golf course to retrieve lost balls from the pond and they vandalize soft drink machines. He said he believes the problem will worsen if so many new seasonal tenants move in next door. He said it would be "great fun" for golf cart-owning vacationers to take their carts onto the golf course at night.
Despite their differences, Goodwin and Paulus agreed to try to hammer out an agreement over a fence. If a mutual understanding cannot be reached, board members said they would revisit the issue.
"The need for a fence is there," zoning inspector Brice Blair said.
Goodwin's property is located in eastern Jefferson Township, the only part of the county governed by the Mercer County zoning code. All other townships have their own local zoning codes, except in western Jefferson Township, which remains the last unzoned area of the county.
The Goodwin family also operates Kozy Kampground in Franklin Township on the south side of the lake.
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