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Plan commission again rejects zoning change, Kroger proposal

Grocery store sought to have 18 acres changed to commercial zoning

  • BIZ-kroger30p-4

    The current Kroger store on the east side of Secor Road in Toledo.

    THE BLADE
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    The Provincial Center of the Sisters of Notre Dame on the west side of Secor Road in West Toledo. The Toledo Plan Commission ruled against allowing Kroger to buy some of the property to use for a new store.

    THE BLADE
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Editor’s note: This article corrects that the proposed Kroger would have been at Secor Road and Monroe Street in West Toledo.

The Toledo plan commission on Thursday night recommended that city council turn down a zoning change and site plans for building a new Kroger Marketplace on property owned by the Sisters of Notre Dame in West Toledo.

Kroger’s application to have 18 acres owned by the Notre Dame sisters rezoned from residential to regional commercial failed, 4-1, following a nearly 4½-hour public hearing in Government Center.

Only Singh Grewal supported the zoning change. Catherine Hoolahan, Ken Fallows, Martin Jarret, and Olivia Holden voted in support of the planning staff’s recommendation for disapproval.

Mr. Grewal said balancing residents’ concerns about increased traffic the 123,000-square-foot store would bring to the Secor Road and Monroe Street intersection with the economic benefits from additional jobs and property taxes it would generate for schools was difficult.

“In my six years on the planning commission this is the hardest decision I have ever had to make,” he said.

Mr. Fallows said the nearly $500,000 that would flow into the coffers of Washington Local Schools is an important consideration, but equally troubling is the impact the proposed development could have on the sanctity of surrounding residential neighborhoods.

“This is a very difficult decision to make,” said Mr. Fallows, who took several minutes to announce his vote. “I love this town. I love what it could be.”

The commissioners unanimously upheld the planning staff recommendation for disapproval of Kroger’s planned-unit development and major site plan proposals for the property.

The rezoning request and major site plan proposal were forwarded to Toledo City Council’s zoning and planning committee, which will meet March 15. Kroger can appeal the recommendation for disapproval to city council.

It will take nine votes of the 12-person council to overturn the plan commission’s actions, Thomas Gibbons, plan commission director, said.

Sister Mary Delores Gatliff, provincial superior for the community, said she was disappointed by the commission’s decisions. She would not comment further.

The Ohio-based grocer is under contract to buy nearly 18 acres at the prime West Toledo location owned by the Notre Dame sisters with plans for a retail development that will be anchored by a 123,000-square-foot Kroger Marketplace.

The property is zoned residential and needs to be changed to commercial to allow Kroger to proceed with its plans to demolish the congregation’s former Provincial House and start construction on a $26 million new store.

This is the second attempt by Kroger to get zoning approval to build the store on the sister’s property. The plan commission voted against the request in June, 2015, and that recommendation was affirmed in November, 2015, when city council voted against the rezoning.

Kroger returned to the city with a new proposal with minor changes in November. The recent request reduced outlots for commercial and business use from four to two to maintain about 2½ acres of trees and green space.

However, the commission staff said the company’s plan was inappropriate for the intensity of the proposed retail activity, and it would conflict with the Toledo 20/​20 Comprehensive Plan, which suggests campus institutional use for the sisters’ land.

The commissioners listened to the testimony of more than 35 people, most of whom spoke against Kroger’s plans for the new store.

Issues addressed by the speakers included the impact the store would have on traffic, security and policing, the removal of trees and green space, and the future of the current store across Secor.

Jerome Parker, an attorney representing Kroger, said the new store would allow Kroger to add 100 workers to the store’s current staff of 150. He said the jobs would generate nearly $1 million a year in income tax for the city.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.

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