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Published: Thursday, 8/14/2003

Neighborhood hopes to stall planned car lot

In business for 35 years as a gas station owner, Bill Crayon says he just wants to “better myself.”

But two neighborhood groups around the troubled and reputedly drug-infested North Detroit Avenue and Delaware Avenue intersection are fighting Mr. Crayon's effort to upgrade his zoning to allow a used-car lot.

Neighbors don't accuse Mr. Crayon of any wrongdoing, but they say the neighborhood needs alley lights and law enforcement more than it needs to become a busy commercial intersection.

Faced with the standoff yesterday, Toledo City Council's zoning and planning committee deferred the rezoning request until Oct. 15.

Mr. Crayon, owner of an independent gas station at 2481-2497 North Detroit, is asking council to upgrade his zoning from C-1 neighborhood commercial to C-3 commercial.

The plan commission has recommended denying the application, saying that if one corner is allowed to switch to C-3, the other corners would be justified in seeking the same rezoning.

The Toledo 20/20 Comprehensive Plan targets the intersection for single-family residential use.

Delaware and Detroit meet at the residential street Hollywood Avenue.

C-3 zoning would permit carryouts, car dealerships, and bars.

“That corner is all I have,” Mr. Crayon said. “I'm just trying to do something for me.”

Mr. Crayon indicated he wants to sell cars, but wouldn't provide any other details.

The corner would also have higher resale value with C-3 zoning, if Mr. Crayon chose to sell.

Linda Allen, chairman of the local Block Watch organization, and Kathleen Kovacs, executive director of the Neighborhoods in Partnership Community Development Corp., urged the council committee not to allow the rezoning.

“It's a neighborhood, and in a neighborhood you should have houses and children - not cars,” Ms. Allen said.

She described the community as “a residential neighborhood with new families moving into new homes.”

But Ms. Allen also said the five-way intersection has “people illegally selling cars, rugs, clothing, sex, and drugs.”

Mayor Jack Ford also spoke at the hearing, saying council should find a way to help Mr. Crayon make better use of his corner.

“I've always taken into consideration the anchoring role Mr. Crayon plays there. I don't want to lose him as a businessman in that area,” Mr. Ford said. “I would like to support it if possible.”

The mayor said the neighborhood has gone through a “gradual decline.”

Ms. Kovacs said the neighborhood, which borders the Old West End, is “in chaos.”

The intersection was described at yesterday's meeting as a known drug market.

Mr. Crayon's gas station lot is neat and plain. The only decorations are three political signs for incumbent City Council members Michael Ashford, Karyn McConnell, and Frank Szollosi.

The corner was zoned C-3 until 1970 when it was down-zoned to C-1 as part of urban renewal.

It was designated part of the Detroit/Delaware Neighborhood Business District Plan in 1985, but Stephen Herwat, executive director of the Toledo-Lucas County Plan Commissions, acknowledged that the planned district never formed.



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