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Published: Thursday, 7/18/2013

Neighbors worried about proposal for charter school

BY DANIELLE TRUBOW
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Several neighbors of a West Toledo church objected Wednesday to a charter school’s plans to move in, telling a city council committee they had inadequate information about the proposal and were worried about traffic.

“I’m for this church, I’m for good things to happen to these people. But that being said, we need to still step back and just look logically at what’s going to happen when we increase the traffic flow at the prime time of the day both morning and afternoon,” James Anderson, a neighborhood resident, told council’s zoning and planning committee during a hearing at One Government Center.

Hope Learning Academy, a public charter school catering to students with disabilities, hopes to open this fall at the Hampton Park Christian Church of Toledo, 4234 Monroe St. The financially distressed church proposes selling the building to the school and then leasing back part of the building to continue its operations.

Mr. Anderson was among five neighborhood critics attending the hearing about the school’s request for a special-use permit, along with larger numbers of church members and other supporters of the new school.

Dr. Janice Carson, the head of a neighborhood block watch who lives seven houses away, complained that no written information or fact sheets were provided to residents at a June 27 meeting.

Others echoed her protest about insufficient information, but City Councilman Tom Waniewski said he has been as open and communicative as possible.

The Rev. Sarah Richey said Hampton Park will be ruined financially if it cannot sell the building, and other alternative buyers could include larger congregations that would attract even heavier traffic.

Noting that he lives just three doors away, Mr. Waniewski said he appreciates neighbors’ concerns, but had carefully evaluated the proposal and found its benefits to outweigh its problems. Traffic, he said, is likely to be an issue for just 15 minutes in the morning and again in the afternoon.

“We have a beautiful church with which there will still be some congregational activity going on, and that’s a good thing. To allow the school there will keep that building from being boarded up, blighted, or becoming a bar. I can’t tell you how many bar complaints I get, and I don’t want any more bars in the district,” he said.

State officials already have approved a charter for the school, whose leaders have lined up a sponsor agency and organized a school board.

Earlier in its meeting, the zoning committee heard a special-use application from Rudolph/Libbe for a solar-panel array in South Toledo.

Jason Slattery, a director of solar at Rudolph/Libbe, asked the committee to approve a special-use permit for the vacant, 22-acre former Haughton Elevator property at 671 Spencer St., northeast of the Toledo Zoo and along the Anthony Wayne Trail.

The Lake Township-based company announced plans in June to build a 2-megawatt solar array, which will include about 25,000 solar panels on 15 acres.

The array is projected to provide the zoo with about 30 percent of its electricity once it begins providing power in 2014.

Mr. Slattery said the company had accepted 13 conditions for the site while asking city council to approve a waiver for fences topped with barbed wire around the site for safety and security.

Two previous proposals for redeveloping that site have been rejected by the city.

Mr. Craig said the property needs a lot of work and neighbors would welcome the solar array.

No one objected to it during the committee meeting.

The committee voted to recommend both permits be approved when City Council next meets on Tuesday.

Contact Danielle Trubow at: dtrubow@theblade.com, 419-724-6050, or on Twitter @danielletrubow.



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