By MATT KOESTERS
The Clark County Plan Commission gave its seal of approval for a zoning change on a parcel in Borden that, pending the appeal of the county commissioners, could lead to the opening of an arts center there.
Attorney Greg Fifer appeared on behalf of Trio Ventures, which is affiliated with the ownership of the Clark-Floyd Landfill in Borden, to request a zoning change for a parcel along Wilson Switch Road in Carr Township from A-1 Agricultural to M-2 Heavy Industrial. Trio Ventures will file a voluntary commitment that will restrict its industrial use to artistic purposes, Fifer said.
The board’s recommendation brings the site one step closer to becoming the Ohio Valley Creative Energy Sustainable Arts and Education Center. According to OVCE board member and volunteer Shane Corbin, the arts center would use methane gas from the nearby Clark-Floyd Landfill to power the facility.
Fifer said the arts center needs the heavy-industrial designation because it will host artists who work with ceramic, glass and metal media. Smelting and metal forging are heavy industrial use, per the zoning ordinance, Fifer said.
“This site has a lot of characteristics that make it perfect for what it will be used for,” Corbin told the board.
The arts center would open with pottery, and would add the glass and metalwork components within one to two years, Corbin told the commission.
“Right now, we just want to get our foot in the door and establish ourselves as an art organization,” Corbin said.
The commission voted 5-2 to give a positive recommendation for the zoning change. Brian Lenfert and David Hynes opposed the recommendation. The county commissioners have 90 days to approve the change.
“I think this is huge. It’s a huge success for the organization,” said Aron Conaway, a founding board member with OVCE. “We really are taking a giant leap forward here. Now we can get on the property soon and just let the rubber hit the road.”
Conaway said the art center would give the opportunity for artists to come out and rent space by the hour. Corbin added that glass blowers could pay as much as $100 per hour for time with equipment.
But not everyone is happy about the idea of having land with a heavy-industrial zoning in their neighborhood. The commission heard from several landowners who live nearby who expressed opposition to the zoning change, including Chris Howard, who said that Wilson Switch is a very narrow road and traffic could become dangerous with a tourist destination in the area.
“Quite frankly, we moved out into the county so we wouldn’t have to deal with this stuff,” Howard said.
Another resident living on Wilson Switch Road, Travis Takami, expressed concern that the land could become an extension of the Clark-Floyd Landfill and could be turned into a “big parking lot.” Fifer responded he would be glad to add something to the commitment Trio Ventures will file that specifies how much impervious surface is permitted on the property.
Lenfert expressed concern about the new zoning, and asked if there wasn’t another way to get the restrictions on the use of the property in place.
“If the applicant gives us a commitment, we get to the same destination,” commission attorney David Nachand said.