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Published: Wednesday, 5/14/2008

Toledo City Council to debate convenience store zoning


Toledo City Council is poised to once again tackle the proliferation of convenience stores in the city - this time with a proposal to reinstate spacing requirements to the zoning code.

Councilman Joe McNamara has proposed an ordinance prohibiting a convenience store from operating within 2,000 feet of another convenience store, or within 1,000 feet of a school, public library, or other places established for minors.

Establishments that do not sell tobacco or tobacco products would not be affected, Mr. McNamara said.

"In 1993, spacing requirements were added to the Toledo Municipal Code and, in 2004, it was taken out as a comprehensive rewrite of the zoning code," he said.

"We are just going back to what we originally had since there has been a proliferation of convenience stores in the central city since 2004."

Council's agenda review committee yesterday debated the proposal.

Council President Mark Sobczak said the proposal was "not well thought out" since there is a new city law requiring convenience stores to be licensed and install security cameras.

However, that law has been challenged in U.S. District Court in Toledo by an alliance of shop owners and will not be enforced until the end of the month.

Supporters of stricter regulations argue that convenience stores have saturated Toledo and are attracting crime, alcoholism, prostitution, drug use, and other unsavory elements.

Critics say some Toledo stores stock drug paraphernalia, such as disguised crack pipes and small plastic bags for powder drugs.

Mr. McNamara said he will propose amending the spacing legislation next week to include the tobacco exemption and it would be sent to the Toledo Plan Commission, which must hold a hearing and then refer it back to council.

Also yesterday, council briefly looked at 11 proposed ordinances dealing with the Marina District in East Toledo.

Among them was a proposal to convey city-owned property within the district project site to the developer, Dillin Riverfront Properties Inc., and approving public improvements to streets and sidewalks.

Those measures will be discussed during a committee of the whole meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. today.

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