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Thursday, May 18th, 2017

WSU ag center clears hurdle

By William Kincaid
CELINA - Mercer County Regional Planning Commission members on Wednesday night moved to recommend a zoning change for 38.6 acres of land on which Wright State University Lake-Campus officials plan to build a $3 million agriculture and water-quality center.
The recommendation to change the zoning of the property located in Jefferson Township at 7660 state Route 703, Celina, from medium-density residential to special/parks district now advances to the county zoning commission and county commissioners for consideration.
"In order to continue with the university's campus expansion, Double Bowler, as a 501(c)(3) entity affiliated with the university, respectfully requests an amendment to the Mercer County zoning map for the property to be zoned as special/parks district," the application states.
The county's SP zoning designation allows for a conditional use by educational institutions.
"We believe that the special parks designation is kind of the best fit for the university and for community in general," Jason Tiemeier of Bricker & Eckler LLP, representing the university, told planning commission members. "The special parks is what the university's current parcel is zoned so it will match that zoning in the area."
Other permitted and conditional uses of property under SP are agriculture, cemeteries, museums, public service facilities, recreation and religious places of worship.  
Lake Campus officials plan to use 1.9 acres of land to house an agriculture and water quality center.
"The building itself will be ...on the western side of the property right up against the current university facility and therefore will allow for a stretch of open land to kind of act as a boundary with the parcels on the eastern edge," Tiemeier said. "The access will be through the current university facility."
"The university is planning to use a larger portion of the property through the formation of agricultural fields for use in research and the curriculum," the application states.
Commission members saw no problems with the application and voted for recommendation.
Asked for a timeline, Tiemeier said construction will depend on how quickly the necessary zoning classification can be obtained.
The new facility will be located near the shore of Grand Lake and will house laboratories, classrooms, faculty offices and meeting rooms, Lake Campus Dean Jay Albayyari told the newspaper earlier this year.
Albayyari said $1.5 million was in the state capital funding budget and Wright State will match that amount to fund the campus project.
The center is part of an estimated $25 million proposed expansion project made possible by the university's acquisition of 38 acres of land.
Other projects include: an advanced manufacturing center, an agribusiness/food program, an athletic/recreation complex and a connector building with multifunctional areas, including a library/learning center.
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