In a move that saw two members recuse themselves from participating, Wauseon City Council on Monday rejected developer Tim Dennis’ request for a zoning change on property he owns next to the city’s Haven Heights subdivision.
By a 4-0 vote, the council passed the first reading of an ordinance accepting the city Planning Commission’s recommendation against a transition from R-2 to R-3 status on the 5.65-acre plot. The decision effectively scraps Dennis’ proposal to construct rental housing on the property located adjacent to Haven Heights, more familiarly know as the Pat West subdivision.
Councilors Rick Frey and Jeff Stiriz recused themselves from the vote, Frey citing his residency in Haven Heights and Stiriz due to a business conflict of interest.
Dennis’ plan for the property, which he purchased as R-2 in 2003, included 20 zero lot line housing units with attached garages and driveways, and two similar stand-alone units, in a subdivision-type setting. R-3 zoning permits construction with a zero lot line, which allows a home’s boundary wall to reach the property line and makes space for more units.
The zoning request had outraged Haven Heights residents. They packed a Sept. 23 public hearing on the proposal, arguing that adjacent rental properties would attract neglectful tenants, lower the subdivision’s property values, and detract from the residents’ quality of life. One resident warned the council that approving the change would set a precedent for owners of R-2 properties throughout the city.
Just prior to the vote, Councilor Martin Estrada said he cannot support a zoning change. He said after reviewing the evidence he determined sidewalks and sewer systems to be major issues “based on the amount of traffic that’s going to be presented there.”
Estrada said because there are already questions pertaining to sidewalks and flooding at the location, “R-3 might be a bit more of a strain.”
On Tuesday, Dennis said the council’s vote is simply part of the process.
“I disagree with the decision of the Planning Commission and with the council, but this is how the system works,” he said. “Our goal all along has been to build nice places for people to live, so people have choices of where they can rent. We’ll continue trying to do that.”
In other business, Park Board member Shane Chamberlin said at an Oct. 13 meeting Public Works Superintendent Dave Murry suggested continued improvements to the Homecoming Park shelter house including new ceiling tiles. Chamberlin said Murry also informed the board that two handicapped parking spaces have been added in front of Imagination Kingdom in Reighard Park, and that a restroom upgrade in the park by the Wauseon Rotary Club is almost complete.
At the Park Board meeting, member Dave Carrol said the midget football program still needs a building at Dorothy B. Biddle Park for storage and to sell concessions. Carrol said plans are being developed, and will have to be approved by the Park Board and the Building and Grounds Committee, and also by the state.
In department reports:
• Fire Chief Rick Sluder said negotiations for an Emergency Medical Services contract are “down to a resolute situation,” and being finalized.
He said the fire department has activated a Twitter account with a live run log “to be able to see our activity and what we’re doing as far as what runs are dispatched out.”
Sluder also advised the public about an outdoor fire warning issued this week due to warm temperatures, high wind, and low humidity. He said crews have responded to several field fires.
“We remind people not to do outdoor burning, especially for the next several days when the temperatures are expected to increase and it’s going to be very breezy,” he said.
• Police Chief Keith Torbet said police dispatcher Tonya Murd has resigned to pursue a job in Sylvania Township. Her last day was Wednesday.
Torbet said a civil service test will be given Nov. 7 in order to fill the position.
He said the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police has drafted a public letter in conjunction with the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association and the Ohio State Highway Patrol opposing Issue 3, a proposed state amendment to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana. Torbet is the OACP president.
“Regardless of what you feel about marijuana, it’s just bad all the way around,” he said of the amendment. “And I think by looking at the results in Colorado it’s very evident that we don’t need to go down that same path.”
Colorado legalized recreational marijuana Jan. 1, 2014.
• Code Administrator Tom Hall said said the Planning Commission has requested a report on areas in the city zoned R-4.
• Public Service Director Dennis Richardson said LED stop signs will be installed on Fulton and Walnut streets.
He said the bids for repainting the clarifier at the water treatment plant will be opened Nov. 10, and a screw pump project has begun at the Water Reclamation Plant.
Richardson said Public Works crews will switch from brush to leaf pickup on Nov. 2.
• Finance Director Jamie Giguere announced that Wauseon resident Andrea Gerken is a new account clerk.
• Law Director Tom McWatters III said the city continues to work with Clemans Nelson & Associates of Dublin, Ohio, on job classifications and a compensation plan.
Council members also heard briefly from Zach Riley, a candidate for the position of Clinton Township fiscal officer.
The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Nov. 2.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.