Ordinances having to do with design review changes; re-zoning of Galion City Schools campus were hot topics
GALION — Tuesdays’ Galion City Council meeting included much discussion and debate about two of the six items on the agenda. The meeting opened with Judy Lawrence addressing council regarding the rezoning of the land around the campus of Galion City Schools. Lawrence, who lives on Highland Avenue, expressed concerns that those closest to the school campus were not being heard in their objections to the future plans for the school district.
Lawrence is not only opposed to the plans for a new bus garage on the school campus, but is also not in favor of future plans like a new soccer field or track.
“When I lived in Florida, there were signs put up when zoning affected residents in a certain area,” she said. “I think the people should be able to vote on the zoning issue.”
At the end of Lawrence’s comments, the council then moved into a planned public hearing on the issue.
First to speak during the hearing was Galion School Board President Grant Garverick.
“To address the concerns that Ms. Lawrence had, we do have some plans for building in the future,” he said. “The bus garage is one piece of that. There have been studies done to support our plans to show the savings in gasoline every day for the schools to have the bus garage on campus. The money we are saving will obviously be used toward the building a construction of the new facility. As a school board, we are not looking to ask the public for any additional funds for the first phase of the bus garage.
“We have some dreams for things like a soccer field, a new track, or softball fields, but these things are going to take time and we are talking long-range plans,” continued Garverick.
School Board Member Mike Mateer was next to address council. In his comments, Mateer stated that he has has personally spoken to hundreds of voters in recent weeks regarding the re-zoning, and specifically the bus garage.
“The vast majority of people want to see the schools grow and become a shining star in our community,” Mateer said. “In my opinion, we are dealing with a vocal minority that really don’t want to see growth and improvement in the schools.”
City Law Director Thomas Palmer explained that the move to re-zone the school campus is an attempt to correct a ten-year oversight into how the land was originally zoned when the schools were built.
“Creating the Educational Services District mirrors what was done for Galion Avita Hospital,” Palmer stated. “I will also add that the creation of this district has a conditional use in it that when — and if — the school decides to move forward with plans for a bus garage, they will have to go to the city planning commission and get approval. It will not happen in a vacuum.”
Galion City Schools Superintendent Jim Grubbs also spoke to address the concerns presented by Ms. Lawrence. Grubbs was intentional in his words in describing the positives and “good things happening” where Galion City Schools is concerned.
At the conclusion of the public hearing, City Council’s first order of business was to vote on the ordinance pertaining to the rezoning of the School Property to an Educational Services Zoning District. City council members approved the first-reading of the ordinance.
The second ordinance of the evening was also a topic for discussion amongst council members as it addressed new guidelines to be put in place for the design review board.
A slide presentation by Palmer detailed the guidelines being presented and the areas east and west of the public square on Harding Way that are affected.
Council members posed many questions to Palmer and Linda Chambers, president of the Downtown Design Review Board.
After a lengthy discussion, council approved the first-reading of the ordinances by a 5-1 margin with council member Mark Triplett voting against the issue.
Both ordinances will come before city council in the near future for their second- and third-readings.