Daniel Kazmierczak makes his opinions known on a sign opposing the planned salvage operation in his neighborhood in South Toledo. The meeting turned contentious at times.
Over strong objections from a group of neighbors, members of a Toledo City Council committee voted yesterday to move along plans for a Pull-A-Part auto salvage yard in South Toledo.
The decision by council's zoning and planning committee represented a crucial step in the land-use process for Do-It-Yourself Pull-A-Part Used Auto Parts, which seeks a special-use permit to put a branch of its salvage and sales operation on 19 1/2 acres along South Westwood Avenue near the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks.
Residents argue that the yard, which is zoned industrial but borders residential, would bring a host of ills to their working-class neighborhood, including crime, pollution, traffic, noise, and lowered property values.
"I am not opposed to Pull-A-Part coming to Toledo. I am opposed to a Pull-A-Part coming into my residential neighborhood," nearby resident Anna Lee Samson said.
All but one committee member voted for the salvage yard plan, including the neighborhood's District 2 councilman, D. Michael Collins. Councilman Lindsay Webb voted no.
The permit request is scheduled for a vote by the full council on Jan. 6.
Patti Foley speaks out against locating the operation along nearly 20 acres of land on South Westwood near the railroad tracks.
Ms. Samson was among the more than 60 neighborhood residents who attended last night's committee hearing at Government Center, many of whom wore the same "No junkyard" t-shirts that appeared at an earlier hearing before the Toledo Plan Commission, which last month approved the Pull-A-Part plan with 54 conditions.
Also present yesterday were representatives for Atlanta-based Pull-A-Part, who argued that their operations would improve the quality of the land at 310 and 400 South Westwood Ave., with perimeter landscaping and environmental remediation.
"This site is not only an eyesore, but it also has some environmental issues," said Toledo attorney Jerry Parker, who was representing Pull-A-Part. "I don't know how anyone could counter that we're not improving the site immeasurably from what is there now."
The hearing ran more than two hours and several times lurched toward disorder.
Councilman Betty Shultz was jeered by some in the audience after taking a firm tone toward one neighborhood resident, and then speaking in favor of Pull-A-Part.
"I don't think that we can afford to vote against jobs and a cleaned-up area in this city," Ms. Shultz said.
Pull-A-Part officials say the branch would employ 20 to 25 people.
The testiest moment occurred in an exchange between Mr. Collins and Ramon Perez, president of the Burroughs Neighborhood Organization.
Mr. Collins presented photos and shared his impressions from a surprise visit to a Cleveland Pull-A-Part that he and his wife made last month.
The photos depicted a neat and orderly operation, which the councilman contrasted to Mr. Perez's earlier description of the site.
"I did not see anything even remotely close to what you described," Mr. Collins said.
Mr. Perez then stood and accused Mr. Collins of failing to support the neighborhood.
"I don't know who you were there to represent, but you definitely weren't there to represent the neighborhood," Mr. Perez said of the councilman's Cleveland trip, drawing applause from the crowd. "You misrepresented the community."
Mr. Collins objected to that characterization and stressed that he made the trip as a fact-finding mission with his own time and money.
"I was representing the district I was elected to," he said.
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