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Published: Friday, 11/7/2003

Pollution threatens development plans

A plan to build affordable houses for low-income families on the site of the old Doehler-Jarvis, Inc., factory on Smead Avenue is being opposed by the city s plan commission staff for environmental reasons.

The staff report recommended rejecting a zoning change for the site because the plan to remove only the top 21/2 feet of the site might not protect future homeowners who excavate to install footers, pools, and basements - even if digging below 21/2 feet is prohibited in a deed restriction.

Mayor Jack Ford also has weighed in against the project s approval.

“I want a substantial, if not complete, remediation, and I m not convinced the cleanup that s being talked about is anywhere near sufficient,” Mr. Ford said. He said he will talk to U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) about trying to land federal brownfield cleanup funds to clear the site.

Toledo Central Cities Neighborhoods, a nonprofit community development corporation, has applied for $1.5 million in federal housing tax credits to build Oakwood Homes III and IV - a total of 75 single-family homes that would be marketed to low-income people for lease-purchase. About 19 of the houses would be on the narrow Doehler-Jarvis property at 1825 Smead Ave.

The community development corporation and the property s owner, Lawson Service Co., applied for a rezoning from industrial to single-family residential. The issue was on yesterday s plan commission agenda but was deferred at the community development corporation s request.

The 131/2-acre parcel was part of the Toledo-based industrial giant Doehler-Jarvis, which cast molten metal into parts for cars and other machinery. The plant was closed in 1991.

Ronald Grant, the executive director of the community development corporation, could not be reached for comment.

Steve Herwat, executive director of the plan commission, said it is not possible to ensure future homeowners won t breach the 21/2-foot layer and expose themselves and their families to hazardous materials. The houses are planned with crawl spaces.

“We recognize that there are contaminated environmental sites that can be cleaned up to residential standards. We, as a staff, don t have a comfort level that the current remediation plan is sufficient to guarantee that there won t be problems in the future,” Mr. Herwat said.



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