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Published: Thursday, 5/29/2003

Panel rezones business park land

Zoning issues won't stand in the way of a stalled business park project south of Toledo Express Airport.

The Lucas County Plan Commission voted yesterday to rezone about 360 acres of Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority land from agricultural and commercial to limited industrial.

The idea for the park is to combine light industry and warehousing with the airport's capability to be a global shipping hub. Paul Toth, director of the airport, said rezoning was the next step toward making the project a reality.

The rezoned area roughly covers land adjacent to the southern part of the airport, bordered by Wilkins Road on the west, Sager Road on the south, and Whitehouse-Spencer Road on the east.

“We're heading to the finish line at this point,” he said. “This is not something where a couple guys sat around and said, `This would be a good idea.' There's been a lot of time, effort, and research put into this to determine what the global trends are.”

The project, though, has languished for years. The original proposed anchor for the plan, a cold-storage warehouse for perishable fruits, fish, and flowers likely won't be the first building in the park, Mr. Toth said recently. He said a business that transports car parts could be the initial tenant.

Ohio International Developers is taking the lead on the project. Howard Moss, of the Hudson, Ohio, development company, told the plan commission members that the cold-storage warehouse is still “integral” to the overall plans for the area, but it won't be the first building erected.

In 1998, a consultant's report recommended a cold-storage facility be built for storing and shipping fresh flowers. Almost two years ago, Port Authority board members expressed frustration with its slow pace.

Mr. Moss said the business park has been slowed by poor economic conditions and that the market will dictate the time frame for the project.

“It has not been easy over the last two years,” he said at yesterday's hearing. “But of late, we're seeing a little bit more activity and we're encouraged by that.”

Ohio International Developers will lease the land rather than buy it as the initial plans called for, according to Brian Schwartz, spokesman for the Port Authority. The initial lease period is for 25 years. The development company then has two 25-year options and a 15-year option to continue the lease. Land on the airport's apron near the runway would lease for $8,200 an acre, and the rest of the land would lease for $3,850 an acre, Mr. Schwartz said.

In unrelated business, the plan commission approved a revised set of regulations for county subdivisions. The rules and regulations, which hadn't been updated since 1967, call for such requirements as street lighting for all subdivisions and underground utilities.

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