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Neighbors still not happy with proposed apartments

SALEM — Drainage and traffic remained key concerns raised by Perry Township neighbors living near a proposed apartment development in the city off of Franklin Avenue.

“I understand where you’re coming from,” city Planning Commission Chairman John Panezott said, remarking on the idea of the city encroaching on the township. “That’s part of growth.”

The commission voted 4-0 Monday to approve the preliminary plat which reworked the plans for the Villas at Franklin being developed by Kevin Price.

Panezott was empathizing with the property owners near the project, but also said people who own a property have a right to sell it or develop it and as long as it falls under the zoning code, there’s not a whole lot that can be done.

“I don’t know what the answer is. They’re going to put a development in,” he said.

Mayor John Berlin noted that the new drainage plans still have to be approved by the city’s engineer from Howells & Baird, who will make sure they follow the rules.

Joe Gonda, of Buckeye Civil Design, the engineer for the project, explained the changes made were partly because the company couldn’t secure an easement from a property owner to install a storm sewer pipe to empty out to Franklin or state Route 344. Later in the meeting, that property owner said the easement would have taken more than half of his yard and reduced his property value.

Instead, Gonda said a side road in the development and one building were eliminated and a second larger retention pond was added to the northwest side of the property. A smaller detention pond will be installed on the southwest corner of the property. He said a retention pond retains the water but is also like a detention pond by releasing a little at a time.

Now the plans call for construction of one private road from Fairview Avenue to Franklin, with 13 buildings instead of 14. The main entrance will come off of Franklin.

After the meeting, Gonda said the hope is to get the plans to Howells & Baird for approval in a week, with hopes to get the road and utilities in this year. Matthew Price, one of the developers, said they would like to get the foundations and buildings up before winter.

If Howells & Baird approve the preliminary plans, they’ll be able to work on the drainage, road and utilities. The final plat will have to come before the Planning Commission for approval, along with approval by Howells & Baird, before construction of buildings can begin.

The north retention pond will hook into an existing storm sewer and catch the majority of the runoff, according to Gonda. The southwest detention pond will catch the runoff from one of the buildings and some of the road runoff.

Several residents questioned whether the retention/detention ponds would be big enough to prevent their yards from flooding as they do now and whether the developer and engineer took into account the runoff from the old Whinnery Farm, which is owned by the Salem City School District.

Ron Elliott, who lives on state Route 344, next to the building site, said a previous owner installed an 18-inch pipe on the property and they discovered it’s on his right of way. He doesn’t want it there and doesn’t want the detention pond hooking into it, saying it will hurt his neighbors.

Keith Gallagher, of Fairview Avenue, also expressed concern about the runoff and the traffic. Matthew Price assured him that the construction traffic has been advised to enter and exit off of state Route 344 and they’ve tried to put up barricades on Fairview. They’re also going to install signs.

He also said the road going through the development will be private and will be maintained by the developer, not the city. Shane Cutlip, who lives on state Route 344 and has an easement for his driveway off of what will be the private drive for the development, asked how they’re going to keep people from driving on a private road.

“What are you going to do for me with the traffic pattern changing,” Cutlip asked.

He said he doesn’t want to look out his window and see traffic going in and out his driveway, saying he sees enough of that from state Route 344.

“How about we just start sending cars up your driveway Mr. Mayor,” Cutlip said.

Gonda said Cutlip’s driveway will come off of the private drive, but he said they can’t put any trees up along there because of the utilities.

Cutlip said it should be their problem to figure it out, not his.

“They want to put it in, they need to keep the neighbors happy and the neighbors aren’t happy,” he said.

Charles Clark, another state Route 344 resident, asked how big the retention pond/detention ponds will be, questioning what happens when they overflow. He also said having the road come out onto state Route 344 is going to be a problem, saying people coming from Leetonia come flying up the hill to head out of town and they fly coming into town.

The Ohio Department of Transportation approved the access off of state Route 344.

State Route 344 resident Tyler Jackson, who expressed concern about the traffic, asked how the road being private will stop people from using it. He was concerned about the speeding traffic and children in the area getting hurt or worse. Elliott asked about Salem police patrolling it and Berlin said he would have to check on that.

Berlin also asked city Service/Safety Director Joe Cappuzzello to talk with the city police chief about keeping an eye out for speeders coming into town from Franklin. Panezott asked him to also reach out to Perry Township police about the traffic.

Clark asked why they can’t wait until all their questions are answered before going forward, saying there are too many unanswered questions. Gonda tried to answer his question about the size of the retention pond, saying it should hold 20,000 cubic feet of water and the smaller detention pond should hold about 5,000 cubic feet of water, to which Clark said, “I think we’re in water trouble.”

Gonda tried to explain that the retention bond will take in most of the water and then release it in smaller amounts, which should make the drainage better than it is now. He also said in 25 years, he can’t remember any of their retention ponds ever overflowing.

“All we can do is plan for a certain point,” he said, noting they can’t deal with “what ifs.”

Before the vote, Panezott told the property owners “I know you’re not real happy. We tried to answer everything best we could.”

The commission also approved the removal of a clause regarding front yard parking in RA and RD residential zones, with Berlin saying it’s a redundant clause since another section addresses the parking situation in all residential areas. He saw no problem with removing it. Both Berlin and Cappuzzello are members of the commission by virtue of their positions.

mgreier@salemnews.net

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