The Washington Planning and Zoning Commission has recommended approving a voluntary annexation request for property on South Point Road where a digital billboard sits.
Plan board member Kevin Cundiff cast the lone no vote during Monday night’s meeting.
Jeff Wilson, Wilson & Company Properties, filed the petition for voluntary annexation of a 1.23-acre parcel at 4832 South Point Road.
The motion approved was to recommend voluntary annexation of the property along with C-2, general commercial, zoning. All adjacent properties are zoned C-2.
If approved by the Washington City Council, both the billboard and a single-family residence located on the property will be annexed into Washington as nonconforming structures.
The billboard does not meet city codes that require billboards be set back 90 feet from a property line and cannot be closer than 500 feet from a residential district.
The residence also would be nonconforming since it would be located on commercially zoned land.
Nonconforming simply means the structure does not meet with city codes, said Tom Holdmeier, plan board chairman. It does not mean the structures are in violation or illegal, he said.
In 2009, Wilson originally requested annexation of the parcel. At that time the plan board recommended annexing the property but the council voted to table any action until the applicant resolved issues with Franklin County over zoning code violations.
The issue came back to the plan board in December 2010, but board members decided against approving annexation since issues with the county were still not resolved.
Wilson withdrew his petition for annexation and rezoning in a letter dated Jan. 10, 2011.
Since then, charges against Wilson of four separate misdemeanor counts for alleged code violations have been dropped.
Darren Lamb, community and economic development director, said the only thing that has changed since the issue was last brought to the board is that Wilson’s property is now in a larger study area being considered for annexation.
“I don’t know how we can continue (annexing) if we have this piece of property surrounded by the city limits,” Lamb said.
It was noted that not one billboard within the city limits conforms to city codes. Lamb said many billboards in the city were built before the setback requirements were put into place.
However Cundiff, who objected to the annexation, said, “The county wanted to offload the problem onto the city to resolve the issue.”
“There are a lot of stories out there,” Wilson told the board, “but everything has been resolved with the county. Whether you take me in or not, the billboard is not moving.
“I went to apply for a (building) permit and it got convoluted, but all issues are satisfied with the county,” Wilson said, adding that as far as he knows charges will not be reissued in the future.
Samantha Cerutti Wacker, plan board member, asked what his belief that charges will not be refiled is based on.
“A judgment,” Wilson replied.
When Wilson was pressed further about the judgment, City Counselor Mark Piontek said, “He’s answered as clearly as he can.”
Matt Becker, a special prosecuting attorney, who handled the case involving criminal charges, said a civil judgment stated that the billboard could remain.
The board’s recommendation will likely be brought before the city council during a public hearing scheduled for Aug. 1.