Editor's note: This version corrects the number of units in each proposed multi-family building.
When Waterville council members began to preface their vote on a zoning permit with apologies and regrets, the residents who packed chambers Monday night could tell what was coming.
Council voted 4-3 to accept Joseph Mercurio’s change in plans to build multifamily units in Kensington Garden, a development on the east side of Waterville-Monclova Road south of State Rt. 64..
Voting for the issue were Mayor Lori Brodie and council members Jim Valtin, Jeff Marty, and Mike Metzger. Council members Barb Bruno, Timothy Pedro, and Ann Cherry voted no.
Mr. Mercurio sought the change to 14 buildings with 2 units each because the real estate market would not support single-family dwellings.
Merry Pomero, who lives on Waterville-Monclova Road, suggested the city buy the land from Mr. Mercurio to stop the project. Mr. Pedro said the council had asked Mr. Mercurio about alternative options, including a land purchase, but the developer rejected it. Mr. Pedro added that Mr. Mercurio was “a fine man” who was trying to make sound business decisions.
Russell Miller, a lawyer representing residents who oppose the project, suggested council table the matter and change the zoning to R1 to prevent apartment-type housing.
Mayor Brodie and city law director Phil Dombey said the matter was an administrative, not a legislative, one and that council would act on the developer’s plans in accordance with the zoning change to R3 from R2 in 2005.
Council members expressed thanks to the residents for their passion and involvement and said their decision was a difficult one.
"I'm sympathetic to everyone who is going to live next to it. ... I'm going to be affected by it, too," said councilman Jim Valtin, who lives on Wilkshire Drive.
He said his yes vote was reluctant but unavoidable. "I don't see any other option for the city," he said.
Councilman Ann Cherry said her no vote was backedup by her personal residential experience with another zoning issue that involved Waterville Meadows, which involved several lawsuits from 1995-2006.
She said that council members were presented with what felt like two opposing legal views and that they were not court judges. "Maybe it needs to go to someone with a more comprehensive view," she said.
During the council's discussion, Mayor Brodie asked residents to restrain from the comments they were making out loud and sometimes over the council member who was speaking. After the vote was taken, other comments could be heard, including, "You people suck," and the police chief ushered the citizens out of council chambers.
Outside, residents expressed frustration and disappointment. When asked what they would do if the multi-family units were built as planned, several offered a one-word response: "Move."
Sue Jurski said she moved to Zachary Circle in Waterville from the Secor-Laskey road area in Toledo to get away from nearby apartment dwellings.
"We weren't told when we purchased the property what was going on," she said.
Contact Rebecca Conklin Kleiboemer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-356-8786.