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Monday, September 01, 2014
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Published: Monday, 1/6/2014 - Updated: 7 months ago

City council delays vote on UT-area apartments

Some neighbors say project will worsen problems

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Toledo City Council put off until its next meeting the vote on a proposed apartment building on West Bancroft Street near the University of Toledo after several newly sworn-in councilmen asked for the delay to get more information.

The delay occurred when a majority of council voted down a motion to hold the vote at its meeting last Thursday, after first apparently becoming confused — veterans as well as newcomers — by what it was voting on.

Council swore in five new members Thursday night.

Developers are seeking to demolish a former night club, coffee shop, and other buildings on Bancroft near campus for the $27 million construction project to put up a 143-unit building designed to appeal to college students.

The developer needs a special-use permit and zoning of mixed commercial-residential on the 6½-acres at the southeast corner of Bancroft and Westwood Avenue.

The plans won approval from the city plan commission and from council’s own zoning and planning committee, where it was the subject of about 90 minutes of discussion.

But council has been peppered by complaints from some neighbors in the adjacent Bancroft Hills subdivision who say the project will worsen the problems linked to student housing in the area, as well as compete with existing student rentals.

Mark Rose, a Toledo lawyer representing the builder, Guy Totino of Cleveland, said the project will be first-class, which he said appeals to a trend among college students.

“You have a lot of kids that like to live in nicer apartments,” Mr. Rose said. He said the project would likely attract students who now are finding living arrangements in apartments farther away from campus. On Bancroft Street alone, there are about six apartment buildings farther away from campus than the proposed one.

He said the delay is “not helpful” because it holds up closing on property purchases, but would not kill the project.

The ordinance to allow a rezoning and special use permit for the $27 million construction project was on council’s agenda last Thursday for immediate passage, rather than just a first reading.

Councilmen Jack Ford and Larry Sykes, two of the new councilmen, asked for a briefing for new members.

“I’ll probably be voting against this,” Mr. Ford said, saying his concern is for a deteriorating neighborhood.

Other council members agreed to a delay until council’s next meeting, set for Jan. 14. But Councilman Tom Waniewski, a Republican from District 5 which includes the parcel under discussion, objected to the delay and asked for a roll-call vote on the motion to suspend the rules to allow for immediate consideration.

Because the vote occurred out of order with some related ordinances, several councilmen appeared to believe they were voting for a delay and so the measure to move ahead with a vote passed 9-3.

When Councilman Mike Craig pointed out that the members had agreed to proceed with a final vote, Councilman Lindsay Webb asked for the issue to be reconsidered. On the second vote, she, along with councilmen Matthew Cherry, Paula Hicks-Hudson, Tyrone Riley, and Larry Sykes changed their votes to no to hold up voting on the rezoning request and special use permit.

They joined Mr. Craig, Mr. Ford, and Theresa Gabriel in voting to delay the vote, defeating it 8-4. Voting to proceed with the vote were Councilmen Rob Ludeman, Sandy Spang, Steve Steel, and Mr. Waniewski.

After the vote, Ms. Webb asked Clerk Gerald Dendinger to always explain the votes to avoid confusion.

Mr. Totino, a partner in a Cleveland company that has developed apartment complexes near the campuses of Cleveland State University and the University of Indiana, said the proposed complex would have parking for 445 vehicles and two to four-bedroom units to accommodate 486 beds to target students, teachers, and professionals.

Mr. Totino said the project would begin in early 2014 and apartments would be available for lease in summer 2015.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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