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11-14-02: Franklin Township Trustees buy land
The Daily Standard

    MONTEZUMA - Franklin Township Trustees added a new tract of land to their greenway program after much public and private debate at Wednesday's regular monthly meeting.
    Trustees agreed to buy land located near the intersection of Ohio 219 and Club Island Road from local developer Steve Klosterman for $49,000. The parcel must be surveyed but is believed to be between five and six acres. The deal is contingent on approval by a state grant program the trustees are using to buy the property.
    The grant is expected to pay 64 percent - or  $31,360 - of the costs.
    Early in the meeting, it appeared there would be no land purchase at all when Klosterman criticized trustees for apparently backing out of a prior deal to buy the land. Klosterman said the sides had been talking for nearly a year about the township buying the land for $65,000.
    Township officials lowered their offer to $45,000, which Klosterman said was not enough. If the trustees no longer wanted the land, Klosterman said he wanted reimbursed for a "couple thousand" dollars in surveying expenses.
    Trustees said they got cold feet on the deal when they heard negative comments from residents. Although township residents have supported the preservation of green space in the rapidly-developing township, on this particular deal, many thought the price was too high, they said.
    "I've heard nothing but negative comments lately," Trustee Ron Brookhart told Klosterman. "I don't know if it's your reputation ... but to me, the public has voiced an opinion."
    "For what we're getting, everybody's complaining about it," Trustee Tom Rose said.
    Klosterman said the negative public opinion is rooted in "jealousy" and asked trustees what their "word is worth." Trustees admitted there had been discussion on buying the land for $65,000, but said no firm deal was in place.
    At the urging of grant consultant Ron Puthoff, who wrote the green space grant and who helped negotiate the deal with Klosterman, trustees finally called an executive session to discuss the land acquisition privately.
    After about 30 minutes, Klosterman was invited into the closed-door meeting. Ten minutes after that, trustees returned to open session and promptly bought the land at the new $49,000 price with little discussion.       Trustee Ron Niekamp said he was satisfied with the land buy at the lower price.
    Trustees also talked Wednesday about development plans for a 33-acre tract of green space they recently purchased for $115,000. Officials are hoping a number of local organizations and conservation groups might help develop the property. They envision a preserved, public space with prairie grass, ponds, wildflowers, wetlands and other natural features.
    As expected, trustees scheduled a public hearing on a proposed update of the township's zoning code. The township zoning commission on Tuesday held its own public hearing before approving the amendment and passing it on to trustees.
    The hearing is set for Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. during the regular monthly meeting. Trustees could approve the new regulations that evening or could order changes. The updated zoning rules would take effect 30 days after passage, barring a petition referendum that would force the issue onto the ballot for a public vote.
    In another zoning matter, trustees upheld a prior decision of the zoning commission. The appeals board denied a request by Richard Middendorf of Fort Loramie to rezone the property at 8160 Ohio 219 to commercial to allow him to hold livestock auctions there. Without fanfare, trustees voted 3-0 to stick with the commission's decision.


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