The rezoning of two sections of a 67.7-acre parcel optioned for purchase by a housing developer will proceed as an ordinance for consideration by Salem City Council.
City council voted 3-2 to move the two zoning issues forward Tuesday night, with Councilmen Clyde Brown and K. Bret Apple casting the dissenting votes. Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey and Councilmen Dave Nestic and Rick Drummond all voted for an ordinance to be written and presented to city council.
"I have a lot of qualms personally about it, but I have to do what my residents want," Dickey said.
She explained if the zoning ordinance didn't get to council, the proposed buffer zone of RS-2 single family residential extending 400 feet from the dead ends of Oak, Tanglewood, Kennedy and Edgewood into the property could be lost. That area is currently zoned RS multiple family.
Dickey represents the Fourth Ward, where residents along those dead ends live, including herself at the corner of Edgewood and Southeast Boulevard. She said the residents want the issue before council so a decision can be made once and for all.
Council and the Salem Planning Commission hosted a public hearing Tuesday regarding two zoning requests in connection to plans announced by the NRP Group of Cleveland for a three-phase housing development of apartments and single-family homes along East Pershing Street, Butcher Road and Cunningham Road.
NRP asked to rezone 6.9 acres of land just south of the East Pershing Street extension to Butcher Road, from C-2 General Commercial to RA Multiple Family, where a portion of Phase I will be located. Phase I calls for an $18 million investment consisting of a 120-unit walk-up apartment complex.
The Planning Commission agreed to recommend the zone change last month, then discussed created a zoning buffer to calm the concerns of the residents of the dead end streets who didn't want to see apartments right up behind their properties, even though plans did not include any construction that close to their homes.
The Planning Commission agreed earlier this month to recommend rezoning 14.3 acres of land 400 feet east of the end of Oak, Tanglewood, Kennedy and Edgewood from RA Multiple Family to RS-2 Single Family Residential.
In both cases, the approvals were contingent on Phase I being built within two years. If the project doesn't move forward, the zoning will revert to what it was originally. A Second Phase would consist of 176 walk-up apartments located at the corner of Butcher Road and Cunningham Road. The Third Phase was described as 50 single family lots, west of Cunningham Road and southwest of Butcher Road extending south to the city corporation line.
When asked why he voted against having an ordinance drawn up, Apple said he had not seen enough about the infrastructure for the development to satisfy him. He saw no problem with the buffer zone, but he didn't understand why the plans for Phase I couldn't move into the area already zoned RA.
"I don't see why we need to change anything. I would like to see the commercial stay commercial for future development," he said.
During the meeting, Brown indicated he thought the commercial zone should stay commercial because the reason Pershing Street was extended was for economic development. He said he didn't consider apartments to be economic development. He also said he was voting the way the majority of the people he talked to wanted him to vote - they didn't want this.
Drummond moved for the issue to go forward and Nestic seconded the motion. Councilmen Brian Whitehill and Jeff Cushman were unable to attend the meeting, but Whitehill, who lives on Tanglewood, had his wife Shannon read a statement he prepared. He proposed that NRP offer for sale at a reasonable price the section of land to the west that they say won't be developed. NRP doesn't own the property yet, but has an option to purchase the parcel.
He also said in the statement that it was unacceptable that the rezoning for single family revert back to multiple family, indicating the zone change needed to be permanent. He also suggested a wetland conservation easement for the area to the west to ensure no development takes place on that section of land.
City Planning and Zoning Officer Patrick Morrissey had addressed the idea of a conservation easement earlier and said that would not be good for the city because they would not be able to cross it with water lines or sewer lines that could hook into the lift station NRP will have to build at their expense to accommodate the project.
Sustainable Opportunity Development Center Executive Director Larry Kosiba outlined what the development could mean to the city, such as helping to pay for the infrastructure debt from the TIF zone in the area and bringing in additional income tax revenue from both the construction and the residents.
He also touched on deed restrictions some people were requesting, noting that any permanent deed restrictions should be avoided. As an example of why, he said the Holiday Inn Express project near Home Depot is being held up over a deed restriction property owners had formed. He said Home Depot was challenging whether a hotel could be built on that site.
In regard to previous concerns raised about an increase in water runoff for residents along the Cunningham Road area, Morrissey said the city requires a storm water runoff study for these type of developments and a detention area would have to be incorporated into the company's plans.
Concerns were raised about increased traffic, also, for Cunningham Road, along with questions on whether the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency or the Army Corps of Engineers had been consulted about the wetlands, whether a topographical study had been done concerning mines on the property and what type of tenants would be living in the apartments.
Nestic asked NRP Developer Mary Hada what happens if the rezoning request from C-2 to RA isn't approved and she said they'll just move Phase I about 400 feet south, which would mean less space to develop and probable result in the elimination of one phase. She said they wanted Phase I in that area because it would be closer to the water lines.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org