Rezoning request for old Hinckley Elementary goes to county planning

Rezoning request for old Hinckley Elementary goes to county planning

by Chris Studor

An application filed by the Highland Board of Education to rezone the former Hinckley Elementary School property, located at 1568 Center Rd., has been received by the Hinckley Zoning Commission and forwarded to the Medina County Planning Commission for review.

The new Hinckley Elementary is located just north of the former location on Ridge Road.

Highland School Board Member Chris Wolny presented the application to the Zoning Commission at the March 2 commission meeting. He said rezoning the 6.8-acre parcel to B-2 business from its current residential district zoning is likely to bring a much higher sale price than if the property remained zoned residential.

Wolny said the property surrounding the school is zoned B-2.

 “The board felt that it should do its’ due diligence,” said Wolny. “As most of you know, the Highland School District built and opened three new elementary schools this year. Two of the schools, Granger and Sharon Elementary, have been torn down. However, we felt the Hinckley Elementary School building and property had value. It was taxpayers’ money that built this building and we felt an obligation to try and get the rezoning because we feel we could get a higher price if it is rezoned B-2.”

Wolny said the district conducted some “soft” auctioning and concluded that if the property is rezoned, the district could probably get about $1 million for the site.

“If we can’t get the rezoning approved and it remains residential, it seems that we would get only a half or third of that amount,” he said.

Zoning Commission Chair Marcus Fisher explained his board obligated to hold a public hearing on the matter within 30 days of receiving the application. However, as the county planning commission wasn’t scheduled to meet during that time, the hearing was automatically continued to Thursday, April 7, at 6:30 p.m.

The only commission member to comment on the rezoning request Zoning Commission Member Dave Manley who said “the narrative doesn’t fit.”

 “This site may someday be rezoned B-2, but I don’t think it has to be now,” said Manley. “I don’t believe you can’t sell it because it’s not rezoned to B-2.”  

In other business, Fischer announced the commission is changing the way it handles written correspondence from the public. He said the chair will no longer respond directly to residents who email him but will distribute the correspondence to the other members of the commission to make them aware of public opinion. He said any resident sending written correspondence is welcome to appear before the zoning commission and relay their comments during the public participation portion of the meeting as well.

The commission also deliberated whether zoning regulations are necessary for rental properties and bed-and-breakfasts on both a short- and long-term basis. Fischer said it may be difficult to enforce these regulations since the township doesn’t have staff to run inspections but it still may be worth it to have some guidelines in the zoning code. He also noted a bill is pending at the state level that could restrict the limitations municipalities can place on rental facilities.

“I would like to see us finish the rental issue because soon the Citizens Steering Committee and OHM planners will be finished with the audit of the township’s comprehensive plan,” said Fisher. “They, through their study, public surveys and public meetings, will have recommendations on where the comprehensive plan needs updating and we will then be very, very busy.” ∞