By Tim Cox
The owners of Northmoor Marina plan to develop an "upscale campground" along state Route 703 east of Celina.
Owner Bill Goodwin is seeking a zoning change for a 10.9-acre parcel of ground that would allow him to create permanent foundations for 84 "park model" homes. Some new lake channels also would be cut into the development, giving the homes direct lake access. The cottages would be fully served by water, sewer, gas and electric utilities.
The starting price for the vacation homes would be about $30,000.
The Mercer County Zoning Commission already has approved a change from the land's current classification as special-parks to resort commercial. Developments such as campgrounds and recreational vehicle parks are allowed in areas zoned resort commercial.
Mercer County Commissioners will hold a second and final public hearing on the proposed zoning change Feb. 21. Commissioners could grant final approval of the request after that hearing. 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.
Several supporters spoke in favor of Goodwin's project at a Jan. 27 public hearing on the issue. A few neighbors of the proposed development asked questions and most seemed satisfied with the answers they received.
Larry Stelzer, the county's community development director, said the proposed development is exactly what is needed around the lake to enhance tourism.
"It's good for tourism, and it's good for development out there," Stelzer said.
Stelzer lives near Kozy Kampground, another Goodwin-owned business, where there are park model homes.
"They've done a wonderful job with it," Stelzer said. "They look great."
The development cannot proceed until Mercer County officials complete the next phase of a sanitary sewer extension in the area. The sewer service will effectively lift the EPA building ban that has been in place for unsewered areas along the lake since the early 1970s.
The estimated $2.4 million sewer project would bring sewer service to the Northwood and Idlewild subdivisions but stop short of the Auglaize County line. Three lift stations would be used to pump sewage through the trunk line west into the city of Celina's treatment plant.
Construction for the sewer lines is tentatively slated for this summer.