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Green Council denies zoning for apartment complex

8/28/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

GREEN — Green City Council members are adhering to the collective desire of their constituents and saying “no” to a $15 million investment that would have provided additional apartments in a community that is lacking housing options for young professionals and senior citizens.

At the Aug. 26 meeting, Council voted 6-1 against an ordinance that would have changed the zoning classification of approximately 17.74 acres of land on Liberty Green Drive from B-1 (General Business) to R-2 (Multi-Family Residential) because a referendum vote that took place in 1987 showed the public doesn’t want a multi-family complex at this location.

Developer Dan Marchetta said during a public hearing held earlier this month the rezoning would further his plan to construct five or six three-story, high-end apartment buildings — with about 150 units in all — a swimming pool, clubhouse and fitness center on the site located on a dead-end drive, just west of South Arlington Road and north of East Turkeyfoot Lake Road.

Councilman John “Skip” Summerville (Ward 4) was the sole supporter of the rezoning request.

While the matter was being discussed at length by the developer, Council and the general public — during the Planning and Zoning Committee meeting held just prior to the regular Council meeting — Summerville urged his fellow Council members to get behind the proposed project.

Summerville said he never voted against the wishes of the residents of Green before but believes the apartment complex would be attractive and a good addition to the city.

“Doing the right thing sometimes is not very popular,” he said. “It is tough to support apartments in one part of the city and not in another part.”

Summerville said “young people” and “seniors” specifically struggle to find affordable housing and often can’t qualify for a mortgage.

“Leadership needs to look at the big picture and look at the needs of all the people,” he said.

Mayor Dick Norton told Council before the vote was taken he supported the rezoning request.

“I understand the concerns are valid,” he said. “As a resident, I get it.”

Most residents cited an increase in traffic and a fear of future flooding issues when explaining why they wanted Council to deny the rezoning.

Norton said residents, several years ago, also were against the construction of The Chapel, a church on Raber Road, for similar reasons, but none of the perceived problems came to fruition.

He said Green needs “the product” Marchetta is offering, as only 20 percent of the community is made of rental properties at this time.

“We need to embrace a balanced approach for housing,” he said. “This is a quality investment for that location.”

During the Planning and Zoning Committee meeting, Marchetta assured Council people want to rent the product he wishes to develop.

He said the apartments would not be for “low income” residents, despite a rumor that has been circulating.

He acknowledged the public’s success in halting him from constructing apartments at the site almost two decades ago.

“A lot has changed in Green since that time,” he said.

Marchetta reminded Council that South Arlington Road has gone from two lanes to five lanes, with two additional turn lanes at Interstate 77.

He added his project offers a great deal of green space and would be environmentally friendly, as he plans to keep and improve existing water retention areas and existing wetlands.

He also said his project would bring in about $388,000 in real estate taxes.

Councilman Chris Humphrey (at large) said he wants Marchetta to invest in the city and construct his project on East Liberty Drive, but he has to “respect the will of the people.”

Councilman Ken Knodel (Ward 3) said he would have liked to examine more detailed plans, specifically concerning storm water management, before voting on the rezoning request. He also said he was not comfortable voting for something so many citizens still vocally oppose.

Resident Perry King, of Moore Road, said the issue really was about “democracy.” Council paid attention to what citizens wanted and allowed them to have their voices heard, he said.

Council President Gerard Neugebauer (at large) said Marchetta may be able to change Council’s opinion in the future if he presents more detailed plans and compelling reasons for the rezoning and apartment complex.

Also during the regular meeting, Council unanimously approved amending the general development plan of the existing planned development district on the east side of Massillon Road, south of Graybill Road.

Summerville said the amendment allows for the construction of affordable senior housing, and the community is very excited about the project.

Roy Lowenstein, senior vice president of Woda Development Construction Management, has said he plans to construct 50 units, 31 one bedroom and 19 two bedroom, for senior citizens 55 and older at the site.

Council additionally heard the second reading of a resolution to confirm the final site plan for Phase 1 of Brier Creek, a development to be located on the former Kiefl Farm property, on the south side of Boettler Road.

Developer John Warmus was in attendance and said his complete project would yield a senior living community offering single-family cluster housing, independent living apartments, multi-story apartments and an assisted-living building.

He said the project would include a great deal of open space and aggregate walking trails, as well. The project would include an adult daycare component, too, Warmus added.

He told Council Phase 1 is north of the creek on the site so water retention would be on the west side of the property and water would exit on the west for this portion of the project, as the property is near an area that experiences ongoing flooding issues.

Council discussed with Warmus the possibility of adding sidewalks to the front of the property along Boettler Road to better serve the residents of the senior living development, as well.

In other business:

  • Council approved a contract with Welty Building Co. Ltd. for preconstruction services, constructability reviews and construction management for the proposed Central Park, off Town Park Boulevard.
  • Council authorized Norton to grant salary adjustments, up to 3 percent of an employee’s current salary, to city nonbargaining employees.
  • Human Resource Director Jeanne Greco has said these salary adjustments will total $57,479.
  • Council approved a resolution authorizing the filing of an application to the NatureWorks Grant Program, administered by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, to replace the 25-year-old play structure behind the John Torok Community Center and Senior Center, off Massillon Road, with a patriotic-themed play area.
    Council additionally awarded a contract to Hickory Valley Sod Farm for the rehabilitation of the infields of the four baseball fields at Greensburg Park.
  • Council heard the second reading of a resolution awarding a contract to Sanyo Construction Inc. for the Hartong barn roof and equipment shed roof replacement project at a total cost of about $56,000.
  • Before the meeting’s close, Norton told Council the city administration still is working with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office on a new contract for continued police protection in the city. He added the Sheriff’s Office currently is reviewing the reasoning behind an increase in the cost of the proposed contract.
    He also reported the city received a “clean” audit recently, receiving the highest marks possible.
    Norton additionally said a number of new businesses will officially open in the city this fall, including the new Acme, a grocery store on Massillon Road; and the Twisted Olive, a restaurant off Boettler Road.
  • Knodel announced a meeting concerning storm water drainage issues in the Springdale Road area will be held Sept. 3 at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at the Central Administration Building, 1755 Town Park Blvd.

The next regular Council meeting will take place Sept. 9 starting at 5 p.m. with committee meetings and followed by the regular meeting at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers.

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