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Published: Friday, 1/9/2004

Panel backs zoning for student housing

An artist has submitted a rendering of the complex of student apartments proposed for North Westwood Avenue. An artist has submitted a rendering of the complex of student apartments proposed for North Westwood Avenue.
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The Toledo Plan Commission yesterday recommended approval of a new upscale student housing complex next door to the University of Toledo, despite misgivings about allowing 586 bedrooms on an 81/2-acre parcel.

With two members absent, the commission voted unanimously to recommend rezoning the site from industrial to R-4 multifamily residential. Absent from the vote were commissioners Sue Wuest and Stephen Serchuk.

The issue goes to Toledo City Council s zoning and planning committee on Feb. 11, along with a recommendation that council hold a hearing on a site plan.

Edwards Communities, Inc., of Columbus wants to build the $15 million complex with three buildings and 224 apartments at 1744 North Westwood Ave., just north of UT s College of Engineering.

Residents of nearby Bancroft Hills complained that the apartments will add to the partying and parking problems they have from students living in the neighborhood.

The developers countered that the complex will be surrounded by a privacy fence and will offer an alternative to students living in single-family homes.

William Decatur, UT senior vice president for finance, technology, and operations, told the commission that the university endorsed the application because of the demand for student housing and because UT officials believe it is a high-quality proposal.

The 224 apartments will have one, three, or four-bedroom units, for a total of 586 bedrooms. Each unit will have a full bath for each bedroom, with common living, laundry, and kitchen facilities. The complex also will have a swimming pool, theater, and fitness center.

Neighborhood advocates said the site will be too crowded.

“It s three very nice buildings surrounded by asphalt,” said Harry Ward, a resident of Old Orchard. “It s too dense.”

Diane Schreiner, chairman of the Bancroft Hills Neighborhood Association, said the three-story buildings will overshadow the adjacent two-story homes, that students will park on neighborhood streets and climb over the six-foot wooden fence, and that neither Toledo police nor UT police will adequately control partying in the complex.

She said the fence should be 10 feet high and made of brick.

Commissioner Rey Boezi agreed that the complex may be too crowded, but said that s an issue for city council to address in the site plan review.

“There s too much coverage here,” Mr. Boezi said, to which Commissioner Bernard “Pete” Culp added, “I agree.”

Stephen Herwat, executive director of the plan commission, said R-4 zoning would have allowed up to 309 units on the site. He also said the ordinance against more than three unrelated people sharing a dwelling does not apply in R-4 zoning.

The developers will need council to waive requirements in the city code for building height, width of a driveway, and the limitation of one building per lot.

The parcel once hosted the former Hilfinger Corp. for foundry operations, electroplating, and metal finishing before Owens-Illinois, Inc., bought the property for warehousing in 1971.

Two environmental consultants hired separately by the developer and UT determined contamination in the soil has degraded to harmless levels.

Richard Kirk, president of Kirk & Edwards Construction Co., said the developers are accepting legal liability of environmental contamination because they believe it poses no danger and can be contained under buildings and pavement.



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