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Published: 6/14/2007

Auto parts yard proposed on Trail concerns Toledo neighbors, city

BY ALI SEITZ
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A neighborhood meeting will be held at 7 tonight regarding the fate of property at 671 Spencer St. in South Toledo.

Haughton Elevator Co. formerly operated a factory at the site, but it has been unoccupied since the early 1990s. The factory was razed recently by the current property owners to make the property more attractive to buyers.

Now, Do-It-Yourself Pull-A-Part Used Auto Parts is applying for a special-use permit to build a branch of its business on the site. The property is zoned as general industrial, but Pull-A-Part needs the special-use permit because the business is classified as an auto salvage yard, John Widmer, the administrator and zoning expert at the Toledo Plan Commission, said.

Pull-A-Part calls itself "the Rolls Royce of do-it-yourself used auto part superstores."

Though its Web site touts the many honors and awards for community and environmental work its branches have won, some South Toledo neighbors worry that Pull-A-Part is just a glorified junkyard and are concerned about traffic, dirt, and security issues. "I don't think that the proposed use of a car lot is appropriate for the neighborhood," Robert Torres, a specialist with the city's Department of Development, said.

The Toledo Academy of Learning tried to buy the property in 2005 for its charter school, but the city wanted to keep the land zoned as general industrial.

"The fact that it was a charter school wasn't the issue," said Mr. Torres, who also serves as vice president of the Toledo Board of Education.

Kattie Bond, the acting director of the Department of Neighborhoods, is concerned about the view of an auto salvage yard from the Anthony Wayne Trail, a main thoroughfare into downtown Toledo.

She credits the Toledo Zoo with beautifying the area, and doesn't want to see its work interrupted by Pull-A-Part.

"Instead of a junkyard, we prefer it to be something clean, neat, and green," she said.

Ms. Bond and Mr. Torres both suggested a housing development or public greenspace as uses for the property that would raise the value of the neighborhood more than Pull-A-Part.

The neighborhood meeting will be held at Southgate Church, 1217 Prouty Ave., between the Anthony Wayne Trail and Spencer Street.

Pull-A-Part called the meeting after it was requested by the plan commission.

City officials, Pull-A-Part, and residents will all have a chance to exchange information, ask questions, and voice their opinions.

"I want my neighbors to understand the good parts and the bad parts," said Maryhelen Roberts, a local resident who helped organize the meeting.

Plan commission members will attend the meeting so they can make an informed decision about whether to grant Pull-A-Part a special permit.

"We have a lot of review to do," Thomas Lemon, the acting director of the plan commission, said. "We'll certainly listen to what the neighbors have to say."

Contact Ali Seitz at:

aseitz@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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