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Published: Thursday, 1/31/2013

Feb. 11 hearing set on Waterville apartment plan

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Neighbors of an apartment complex under construction in Waterville say their efforts to let voters decide if the project should go forward have been thwarted by the city.

Calling itself the Ad Hoc Committee of Waterville Citizens for Referendum Petitions, the group has asked a Lucas County Common Pleas judge to order the city to allow a referendum to advance to the ballot and order Mercurio Developers Inc. to stop construction on Kensington Garden development.

Judge James Bates has scheduled a Feb. 11 hearing.

“We were pleased we were going to be able to get the matter before the court on a fairly quick basis,” Russell Miller, attorney for the citizens’ group, said Wednesday.

The legal question, he explained, is whether City Council’s Oct. 8 decision to amend a development plan for the property was a legislative action subject to referendum or an administrative action, which is not.

“We proffered to the city legal authority, which we felt clearly established that in Ohio, the amendment of a [planned unit development] is a legislative act in that it essentially acts as a change of zoning,” Mr. Miller said.

James Hart, assistant solicitor for Waterville, said the action “is not subject for referendum.”

City Administrator Jim Bagdonas said several years ago the city approved plans for 40 condominiums on the site on the east side of Waterville-Monclova Road, south of State Rt. 64. Construction began on the four-unit buildings but was halted after only eight units had been built, he said.

Last February, Mercurio Developers purchased the undeveloped section and asked the city to amend the original plan so that it could instead build 14 two-unit apartment buildings, a request City Council approved on a 4-3 vote.

Mr. Miller said neighbors were not opposed to the original plan for “owner-occupied, upscale condominiums,” but fear construction of rental units “is not an appropriate use and that their property values would be impacted.”

A separate petition the group circulated seeks to change the zoning from multi-family residential to single-family residential.



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