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Published: Wednesday, 3/3/2004

YMCA gets clearance in Bedford Twp.

TEMPERANCE - The Bedford Township Board last night unanimously approved an amendment to its residential zoning ordinances, clearing the way for construction to begin next month on a YMCA branch in Bedford Township.

Board members had delayed a decision on the amendment for two weeks after voicing concerns on Feb. 17 that the amendment could allow a number of additional uses that the board hadn t intended, potentially including even a methadone clinic.

The YMCA of Greater Toledo sought the proper zoning to be able to build the $6.9 million Francis Family YMCA along Dean Road, just west of Bedford High School.

But a conflict arose last year after the YMCA entered into an agreement with ProMedica Health System that allowed the firm to operate a rehabilitation center attached to the new facility.

The proposed dual-use building fell afoul of the requirements for the residential zoning districts in which the building is to be located, necessitating the amendment.

Paul Francis, a member of the family for whom the new YMCA is to be named, said the delay “sent a negative message to members of our community” that the township might not support construction of a local YMCA. He said the concerns raised “at the 11th hour” by some members of the board amounted to “politics.”

Township Supervisor LaMar Frederick said he spent more than two hours with legal counsel after the last meeting trying to meet the board s stated concerns.

He said there were about a dozen parcels around the township that would have been affected by the change, and that ultimately nine words were inserted into the ordinance amendment to make it acceptable and limit its impact.

Robert Alexander, chief executive officer of the YMCA of Greater Toledo, said after last night s vote that, though the delay “caused some stress,” it should not affect the facility s construction schedule.

“I think we re OK. If it didn t go through tonight, we would have had some problems, because without the zoning, we can t go forward,” Mr. Alexander said.

Work on the project is expected to begin in earnest by mid to late-April, YMCA officials said. Thus far, the YMCA has received financial commitments for $5.1 million of the facility s total cost.

The remainder will be sought during the “community phase” of its fund drive, which is to run between now and the Francis Family YMCA s planned opening in early 2005.

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