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|03-13-03: Zoning request denied
|By SEAN RICE
The Daily Standard
The people gathered and the government listened.
The Franklin Township Trustees overturned a decision of the township
zoning commission Wednesday night, killing a request from developer Steve Klosterman to
rezone 28 acres for a new trailer court.
It was standing room only at the meeting room in the Franklin Township
firehouse, as the crowd spilled through the rear door and into the garage bay.
Many in the crowd came to tell the trustees to deny the zoning change
request, which was at its final stage of approval. Others came in support.
The request to rezone the area east of Windy Point Road and north of
the Klosterman Development Corp. office went before the Mercer County Regional Planning
Commission in December and was approved by the Franklin Township Zoning Commission on
Tuesday night. It would have rezoned 28 agriculture/residential (A-1,R-1) acres to allow a
107-lot trailer park.
Robert Eilerman dominated the beginning of the discussion with numerous
prepared questions for the trustees. Eilerman is one of a group of six
Franklin Township residents that circulated petitions and collected 300-plus
signatures against the development.
Eilerman asked each trustee individually how many phone calls they
received about the issue, and he asked each if they think the public knew
enough about the issue.
"Half of the people (Eilerman talked to) said they didn't know a
was happening and didn't trust what the trustees are doing, mainly because
they don't get enough information about what's going on," Eilerman said.
He then asked each trustee to tell the crowd why they were elected as
trustees and what there purpose is.
"So you're here to serve the people too?," Eilerman
rhetorically echoed trustee Tom Rose's answer.
As the crowd became antsy, Mike Klosterman interrupted, saying Eilerman
was beating around the bush and the trustees are not on trial.
"You're getting off the topic. You got a trailer park out there
already, that's the logical place for one," Mike Klosterman said. "If he wanted
to put up two hog houses he wouldn't even have to come here."
As Eilerman continued questioning the responsibilities of a trustee,
several in the crowd sighed and one man said, "I'm ready for a beer."
Shortly after, Steve Klosterman interrupted, took the floor and began
loudly stating his plans.
"On old route 219 down to Shingle Shack, all's you got is broken
down junk trailers," he nearly screamed. "This is going to be first class, it
fits the area."
A woman asked Steve Klosterman to lower his voice.
"Excuse me for being upset but these are the facts. It's going to
be an asset to the community," he continued. "This is why the school's closing,
because there's no kids here."
As several people filed out of the room, one woman whispered
In a lower tone, Klosterman went on to say it would be a $2 million
project and the homes would cost $50,000 to $75,000. He also said he already had a
commercial business nearly committed to move to the area and potential to create a
commercial district nearby.
"We can get jobs in the community," he pleaded.
Several in the crowd asked how the issue could be put before the
township's population for a general vote. The trustees said that could happen if it was
approved and residents filed a referendum petition with the board of elections.
Klosterman said he has no problem going to the ballot because there's a
"silent majority" that supports development.
"I think zoning has choked this township," an unidentified
man called out.
After Steve Klosterman said Mercer County Sheriff's deputies responded
to a report of someone harassing people to sign a petition, several in the crowd called
out. He also said Eilerman has been spreading untruths about his plans.
As one person's temper rose, the sheriff's deputy stood up before
anyone got physical.
"It's good to have a debate, but we aren't going to have a yelling
match or I'll step in," Deputy Lance Crum said.
Shortly after the trustees voted unanimously to deny the zoning change.
"Whoooo," one man called out when the decision was announced.
Another woman said, "Oh my god," and put her tearful face in her hands.
"You should have let it go on the ballot," Klosterman quietly
said to the trustees.
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