With work on the proposed staging yard on the east edge of Swanton continuing, there is some question whether the work is allowed.
The property within the village limits where work is being done is zoned RS6 – Single-Family Residence, according to the Village of Swanton website. The approximately 37-acre property is also not owned by Norfolk Southern Corp., according to the Lucas County Auditor’s website.
This type of property can be used for household living, group living, community recreation, day care, religious assembly, minor utilities, agriculture, and wireless telecommunications facilities, according to the zoning information on the county auditor’s website. With a special use permit, other types of uses are possible including major utilities and services, nursing homes, and schools.
Swanton Village Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle could not comment on whether there is a violation of zoning or permit regulations. “This is related to an ongoing legal matter, and I have no comment at this time,” said Hoelzle.
In Swanton Township, the land that is proposed to be used for the staging yard is zoned agricultural. According to the township zoning resolution, agricultural districts are “to provide for agricultural and agriculturally related uses, essential public facilities and services such as public buildings, schools, railroads, public utilities. This may include some commercial activities which are an integral part of agriculture, such as roadside stands or structures used for the sale of agricultural produce or products and/or nursery and greenhouse sales areas; churches and other related nonprofit public service facilities.”
Dave Pidgeon, public relations manager at Norfolk Southern, would not comment on what led to work being done at the sites. He did say, “We continue to extend the open hand of partnership with community leaders in Swanton. We intend to construct this property with all the relevant local, state, and federal permits.”
Norfolk Southern is also moving forward without approval for the closure of Scott Road. The closure would allow Norfolk Southern to park the trains on the new tracks without blocking a grade crossing.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has not received a petition to close the crossing as of last week, according to Matthew Schilling, PUCO office of public affairs.
The railroad will have to file a petition to close and show that there is not a demonstrable need for the crossing to remain open. The PUCO would hold a hearing in the local municipality to gather input from the public. Afterward, the commission will evaluate and determine whether or not to close the crossing, according to Schilling.
Update: At the Monday, Oct. 24 Council meeting, Swanton Village Solicitor Alan Lehenbauer told the audience that the village was advised not to file an injunction against Norfolk Southern at this time.
Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010