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Published: Wednesday, 7/7/2004

Sylvania: City cites limousine service for zoning violation


Sylvania officials have filed a complaint against a Brint Road limousine business, contending it violates zoning regulations that limit business operations in residential areas.

Nearby residents have complained about the activity they say takes place at Birmingham Limousine, 7235 Brint Rd.

Bob Oberly, deputy service director for the city, told Sylvania council members he had discussed the issue with neighbors and with the owner of the business, Michael Birmingham. He said that because they couldn't resolve differences, he filed a complaint with Sylvania prosecutors.

He said he has asked for an opinion as to whether the operation is a violation of the city's zoning code.

Councilman Todd Milner said that from what he'd seen, it seemed clear that a business was being operated in a neighborhood zoned for residential use.

Mayor Craig Stough agreed but added that not all businesses are prohibited in residential areas of the city.

Some are specifically allowed by the code, and others operate usually without any complaint and often without anyone's noticing.

He noted that one business allowed in a residential area in Sylvania is truck farming.

The mayor said he knows of a landscape architect who works from his home and of other businesses.

Council President Barbara Sears said she is sure a number of people run small business operations just by using a computer in their home.

Michelle Wagner, a city prosecutor, said she has begun investigating the complaint but has not determined if the limousine service is operating illegally.

She added one of the tests used to determine the issue is whether the business is causing disruption in a neighborhood. There are restrictions on such business-connected items like signs, increased traffic, new out-buildings, as well as lighting and noise levels.

Mr. Oberly said the first complaint from neighbors was about construction activity in the back yard of the Brint Road property. He said the company was establishing a stone staging area for the vehicles and there was no construction.

He said all of the limousines appear to be in good condition and are in garages when not in use.

Mayor Stough said that complaints include concerns about noise and lights late at night. He said that as he understands the situation, drivers return limousines sometimes in the early morning, and neighbors say they are disturbed by the car lights and the noise of garage and car doors being opened and closed.

Mr. Birmingham declined to comment on the situation.

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