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Published: Friday, 8/9/2013

PLANNING COMMISSIONS

Off-campus apartments eyed for UT

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Toledo-Lucas County Plan Commissions on Thursday recommended approval of zoning changes and site plans to allow a 596-bed student apartment complex to be built near the University of Toledo despite neighborhood groups’ fears the dense housing could increase traffic and lure crime to the area.

The proposal from Cleveland’s NRP Group LLC to build a 200-unit, off-campus student housing project at the southeast corner of Dorr Street and Westwood Avenue was approved 4-0. Commission member Singh Grewal recused himself from discussions and action on the proposal.

Mary Hada of NRP Group said the company wants to construct eight multilevel buildings on the 11-acre site and the development would include a clubhouse, volleyball court, and facilities for tanning beds, games, and study area.

“This is not the student housing the rest of us had when we were going to college,” she said. “Education is going to be emphasized.”

The commission gave the go-ahead to change the site’s zoning from regional commercial and general industrial to multidwelling student housing. The company’s request to vacate Kury Avenue, which connects Westwood and Dorr, and incorporate the street into the project for parking also was recommended for approval.

The commissions’ recommendations will go before Toledo City Council for final approval.

Dan Dawson, president of United Residential Neighborhoods Association and resident of the nearby Secor Gardens neighborhood, urged the commission to deny the zoning changes and site plans.

He said the high-rise, four-story buildings would obstruct residents’ view of the intersection, while the project conflicts with Toledo’s comprehensive zoning plan for the area.

“This high-rise complex will not enhance the quality of life, not for the University of Toledo or the residents,” he said.

Diana Schreiner, a leader of Bancroft Hills Blockwatch, said she and her neighbors oppose the complex because of the high residential density and the ensuing parking, traffic, and crime issues it could bring to the area.

“This is not a good fit,” she said.

The commission also heard from others who support the project.

Gene Buckland, owner of Meredith Party Rentals, 730 N. Westwood Ave., said the housing is needed to support the university’s continuing expansion.

“I think this will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood as Gateway has been at the other end of the campus,” he said. “I am all in favor of the neighborhood looking nicer.”

Jim Minor, owner of Paul Minor Inc., which is among vacant buildings to be razed for the complex, said he has tried in vain to repurpose his factory for many years.

“We have been here since 1978. We care about the neighborhood. We want something good to happen,” Mr. Minor said. “It is just a win-win situation for the whole neighborhood. I think this is an opportunity that shouldn’t be let go.”

The commission also recommended approval of a special-use permit to locate an elementary school in the vacant Calvary Assembly of God Church at 5025 Glendale Ave. The church plans to modify the building's interior to house a kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.



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