BAZETTA - Trustees unanimously voted to deny a zoning request that would have turned a 33-acre residential plot near the Timber Creek development into a commercial zone for Living Word Sanctuary.
Residents neighboring the area - located between McCleary Jacoby Road and state Route 46 - packed the township's administration building Friday evening to state their disapproval of the possible zone change. Many took part in the public comments expressing their desire to keep their "dream home" as they have it now.
"I moved out of a home on 46 in Howland to get away from a busy road. I'm against it and I hope I didn't make a quarter-million dollar mistake," resident Richard Tallurico said.
His concerns were met by applause and echoed by others at the meeting.
"I'm opposed to the C-3. If the church would go under, we could have a Holiday Inn or an Outback SteakHouse in our backyard," resident Jill Kordes said.
The zoning change would have opened up the property, which was purchased by Living Word Sanctuary in August 2012, to any number of large commercial developments. However, the church released their plans to develop approximately half of the area for a large church building and 202-space parking lot, while leaving the remainder wooded.
Because of the amount of land Living Word plans on developing, a C-3 classification is necessary as opposed to the current R-1.
The Trumbull County Planning Committee and the Bazetta Zoning Board both recommended a denial of the request, noting that the area is prime for more residential development as stated in the township's comprehensive plan.
"It clearly violates our comprehensive plan," Trustee Paul Hovis said.
Trustee Don Urchek echoed the statement.
"I think they didn't do their due diligence with the purchase of the land," he said.
Church officials in attendance opted not to comment on the zoning denial. If they should choose, they can petition a referendum for the zoning change to be placed on the November ballot. Neighbors said they already are planning to fight back if they do.