BATH TOWNSHIP — Bath Township Trustees approved May 17 a proposal supporting a grant application to the state.
In a 3-0 vote, township trustees adopted a resolution supporting B-W Greenway Community Land Trust’s application to the Clean Ohio Fund for a conservation easement on 77 acres of Donald and Mary Gronbeck’s farmland, located at 1594 Dayton-Yellow Springs Road.
The Bath Township landowners will compete with other landowners throughout Ohio for a portion of the state funding appropriated this year from the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP). The local non-profit land trust will submit the application, on the landowner’s behalf, using an online application on the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s website.
Under the terms of the state program, the land remains privately owned and continues to be taxed. Land use is restricted to agricultural production, and the land can never be developed for any purposes except agricultural.
According to the Ohio.gov website, the Clean Ohio Fund, a $400 million state bond initiative, was first approved by Ohio voters in 2000 and was renewed in all 88 counties in 2008 with strong support from the state’s executive and legislative leadership. The state program is highly competitive with approximately one-in-15 applications being funded. Funding is also limited to one award for each landowner per funding round and must be used with matching local funds.
In other business, township trustees held off casting their votes supporting the request from Chrisbell Bednar, director at Greene County Parks & Trails, to submit a grant application to the Clean Ohio Fund for as an easement entrance into Pearl’s Fen. Currently, the 15-acre fen, which is located on Byron Road in Fairborn, is open by permit only.
Bednar told township trustees that the Greene County Parks and Trails is planning to restore the fen, which would involve the acquisition of a residential plot that would be used as an entrance into the fen. She explained that the Byron Road homeowners want to relocate to Hillsboro and is eager to sell their property. The property has already been appraised. Once it is purchased, plans call for the house to be demolished, and the land to be cleared for the project.
“It is a perfect location to access the fen,” Bednar said. “The property is just under an acre and would allow us to build a parking lot for those who would like to visit the fen once it is restored.”
According to Bednar, there would be no electricity installed which would require a controlled access to the fen between sunrise and sunset. No shelter house would be built at this time, but she noted that the county parks and trails would like to build a small shelter house on the lot in the future that would be used for educational purposes.
However, Township Trustee Tom Pitstick expressed his concerns about what the township residents, who’s properties are located adjacent to the property to be purchased and used for the enhancements, thought about the proposal. The trustee asked Bednar if the residents had been properly notified, and she replied that they had not.
Township Trustee John Martin asked Bednar when the grant application was due, and she said it must be completed and filed by Friday, May 26. Bednar also noted that the land management portion of the application requires approval from township trustees for the enhancements and acquisition of the residential plot. Martin pointed out that the township trustees would not have another opportunity to vote on the matter before they would meet again in regular session on Wednesday, May 31.
Township Trustee Steve Ross also added that the situation did not warrant a special session before the next scheduled meeting.
“We need to talk with the neighbors before approving your request. I doubt if this funding is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and you will have other chances,” Ross said.
Martin reported that a small portion of the walking path in the back of the township park, located behind the township building at 1006 Yellow Springs-Fairfield Road, is apparently located on a section of property in Waterford Landing, a newly developed residential community that borders the east side of the park.
“The path has been established for more than 21 years, and hundreds of people have used it,” Martin said. “ The survey of the park that was completed in 1993 may have not been accurate. Seemingly, a section of the walking path extends onto Waterford Landing property.”
According to Bath Township Road Supervisor Vern Heizer, two, five-acre lots were obtained from Cemex in 1993, and the park was constructed in two phases.
Martin suggested that the township annex the land or redevelop the back section of the park. The township trustees discussed their options and unanimously voted to refer the issue to the Civil Division of the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office.
“This way we will get a proper assessment regarding the township’s rights to the path,” said Martin.
The Bath Township Trustees will meet again in regular session 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 31 at 1006 Yellow Springs-Fairfield Road.