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Toledo City Council extends ban on convenience stores

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The moratorium on convenience store permits that has existed in Toledo with one brief interruption since last August will continue until Sept. 15 in certain parts of the city.

City Council voted 11-0 with one of its members absent to extend the moratorium in many of Toledo s central neighborhoods covered by the city s 11 nonprofit community development corporations for 30 days.

The temporary ban on permits for those stores originally was approved by council on Aug. 22, 2006, briefly expired before it was continued last spring, and was set to expire again Aug. 16.

Attached to the extension council approved yesterday was an amendment co-sponsored by council President Rob Ludeman and Councilman Joe McNamara that exempted from the moratorium areas not covered by a nonprofit development corporation.

Included in the exemption is a Zavotski Custom Meats store that intends to open at DeVeaux Village in West Toledo.

The amendment was considered a compromise between the development corporations, which say Toledo s convenience stores cause crime, and some councilmen who contend such businesses do not cause problems in their districts.

Several councilmen said this is likely the last extension of any kind on the moratorium.

Now it s an extension. But after [Sept. 15], it becomes a ban, and we can get into legal trouble with that, Councilman Mike Craig told The Blade.

Mr. McNamara was in favor of the extension because the Toledo-Lucas County Plan Commissions is to present its reasons for recommending space requirements between convenience stores at council s zoning and planning committee meeting on Aug. 15 one day before the moratorium is set to expire.

The plan commissions voted July 12 to recommend council add to the zoning code spacing requirements for convenience stores that would prohibit them from operating within 2,000 feet of one another, and within 1,000 feet of a school, public park, public library, child day-care center, or any other place for the activities of minors.

Council removed a requirement for a minimum 2,000-foot separation between an existing store and a new store as part of a zoning code rewrite in 2004.

The moratorium was in response to complaints from the nonprofit development corporations that new convenience stores selling beer, wine, and cigarettes contribute to crime in the central city.

Mr. Ludeman, who said convenience stores were not really a problem in his District 2, said council needed to have real discussions over the next four days to address what is defined as a convenience store.

The city now requires a special use permit for all stores under 5,000 square feet that sell groceries. Mr. Ludeman contends that stores such as meat markets and gas stations have been unfairly grouped with some of the carryout stores in the central city that have been problematic.

And earlier this week, Mr. Craig said the city needs a way to discourage the bad behavior at the convenience stores considered to be troublesome. He said passing the 2,000-foot spacing requirement would basically be reinforcing their bad behavior by not permitting new competition into that immediate area.

In other action, council:

• Increased the city s towing fee from $85 to $105. It also passed legislation that allows for a schedule of fees for heavy-duty tows, decreases the number of required tow trucks from three to two, and reduces the required insurance umbrella from $2 million to $1 million.

• Added a 10th economic zone to the Toledo Expansion Incentive program that includes Summit Street from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Bridge to the Veterans Glass City Skyway Bridge.

Businesses that locate in any of the zones can receive tax rebates of up to 30 percent.

• Called on the U.S. Federal Reserve to help stop predatory lending practices for home mortgages by prohibiting lenders from selling mortgages that quickly become unaffordable after the interest rate increases.

• Council authorized the city s continued participation in an alternative fuel study on biodiesel fuel with the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority and the University of Toledo. The study has been going on since March, 2006, is scheduled to continue for two years, and is researching replacing imported petroleum with renewable energy.

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