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Published: Wednesday, 3/23/2005

Toledo: ONYX meeting mulls liquor licenses

BY CLYDE HUGHES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Organized Neighbors Yielding eXcellence is hosting a community meeting next week about two proposals for liquor licenses within its Central City boundaries.

A new gas station on Dorr Street near Junction Avenue, and a convenience store at the intersection of Detroit and Indiana avenues, want to sell alcohol.

Liquor licenses in the area have been hotly debated among residents over the past several years. Many community leaders have complained that the central city is already saturated with stores selling beer and wine and additional outlets would only contribute to criminal activities.

Toledo councilman Michael Ashford said he believes the newest proposals are "still in the talking stages."

Deborah Younger, executive director of ONYX, has invited the two developers to make presentations at the community meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Frederick Douglass Community Center, 1001 Indiana Ave.

ONYX serves the Central City area bounded by Dorr Street, I-75, Swan Creek and Brown Avenue.

Gary Jacobs, the former owner of Maxwell's Brew near the University of Toledo, is proposing the new gas station. Johnnie King is proposing the convenience store in a building that used to house Fifth Third Bank.

Suzette Cowell, chief executive officer for the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union, said she learned of the proposed liquor licenses after she and Ms. Younger were called to a meeting recently by Mr. Ashford.

Ms. Cowell said she felt it would be beneficial that the neighborhood know what's going on with the proposals.

The new businesses have the potential of bringing needed jobs and services into the central city, Mr. Ashford said, but he doesn't want neighbors to feel that their concerns are not being heard.

"First, I'm positive about any kind of small business wanting to move into the area," Mr. Ashford said. "We have to work with the neighbors, Block Watch and the local churches to develop a plan to address some issues in the neighborhood so people can feel comfortable."

Mr. Ashford said he is sensitive to concerns and the best way to get businesses to respond to those concerns is to open up a line of communication.

"We've seen this be successful in neighborhoods all over Toledo. Problems occur when these businesses come in and they haven't communicated with anyone," he said. "I'm glad to see that there is some initial communication and dialogue taking place right now."

In 2001, ONYX fought and lobbied against establishing a convenience store and gas station on Anthony Wayne Trail at City Park Avenue because of the liquor license issue.

Ms. Younger said her organization has not taken a position on the current proposals, but wants public input.

ONYX's battle is just one of several taken by community development corporations in recent years to slow the tide of alcohol being purchased or consumed at commercial establishments within the neighborhood.

The Lagrange Development Corp. in 2001 organized neighbors to vote Ward 4, Precinct D dry, banning sales of liquor by the glass in establishing Toledo's first and only dry precinct.

The precinct vote was an effort to shut down a nightclub in the 3300 block of Elm Street. Neighbors complained it was rowdy, loud and trash-ridden.

Contact Clyde Hughes at:

chughes@theblade.com

or 419-724-6095.



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