JACKSON TWP. Among the biggest issues facing Jackson Township during the Nov. 7 General Election was the Tam O'Shanter property zoning referendum, in which voters gave it an overwhelming "Yes," meaning new zoning approved by trustees will stay in place.
Unofficially, 67 percent voted to keep the zoning, while 33 percent voted against the referendum.
Jackson Township Trustees approved a zoning change for 62 acres of the Tam O’Shanter Golf Course during the summer. The zoning change, at the corner of Fulton and Everhard roads, came at the request of the golf course property owners. The 62 acres was rezoned for business with the remaining 205 acres to be sold to Stark Parks and 20 acres getting donated to Jackson Township for a park.
Chuck Bennell, whose family owns and operates the golf course which is expected to close in 2020, said passage of the zoning issue is good for the township in many ways.
"Economic and job growth is important to the community and if this issue had failed then it may have caused new businesses and companies to consider locating in places other than the township, especially if rezoning of property is needed," Bennell said. "Along with the economic factor, having the majority of the land going to parks, both Stark Parks and Jackson Parks, resonated with residents. The passage says that voters feel that Jackson Township is a great place to live and a great place to own and operate a business."
Fiscal Officer Randy Gonzalez said the referendum passed because people got on board when they became aware of all the factors involved with the rezoning.
"I think that once people became aware of the green space and the road improvements that will be gained through this rezoning, they felt it was the right thing to do for the township," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said he believes the Bennell family came up with the best idea for the land and tried to do something good for the community and leave a good legacy.
"People really came out to vote so this issue was important to residents. If it had failed, it would have been a discouraging signal to send to people looking at the township as place for their company to build. Companies could spend hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars for preplanning only to get shot down in zoning which could dissuade new companies from considering Jackson Township."
Gonzalez said that he believes most of the upcoming economic development will happen mainly around the Akron-Canton airport.
"We have been working on more Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) agreements, including the one for the commercial development of the 64 acres of Tam O’Shanter. That means the township will receive income taxes from workers who will be clearing and building in the area and those who work at the commercial development," Gonzalez said.
He added the income taxes will go towards safety services in the township. He said the JEDDs help reduce the need to go to tax payers in the township for new levies.
Bennell said the next steps include working with Stark Parks to complete the sale of land they will use for park land. Then accepting calls from commercial entities about purchasing the land to build on.
"The golf course will remain open until 2020 and we want to give the customer the best golf course for the value. We will continue to keep up the course and the current crew will remain in place. My wife and I plan to stay in Jackson Township and I’ll continue to work in operations to make sure people running the golf course have everything they need," Bennell said.
Those who opposed said more commercial businesses in the area would increase traffic, noise and light pollution and that the township has a surplus of business property. There were enough signatures gathered from those opposing the issue to put it on the ballot.
Unofficial vote counts show Todd Hawke and John Pizzino were both re-elected to the Board of Trustees. Katrina Barton, Kenneth Douglas and Thomas Winkhart were all re-elected to the Jackson Local Schools Board of Education.
There were several issues that were also passed, according to the unofficial vote counts, including Issue 22 Sunday sale of wine and mixed beverages for Marc Glassman Inc., dba Marc’s Belden Village on Dressler Road and Issue 23 Sunday sale of wine and mixed beverages for Lakes Venture, LLC dba Fresh Thyme Farmers Market on Dressler Road.