ZONING COMMISSION MINUTES
November 18, 2015
See attached list
Paul Shaw, Chairman, called the meeting to order of the Catawba Island Township Zoning Commission. For the record, he stated the date was November 18, 2015 and the time was 7:00 p.m. Chairman Shaw noted there were significant members of the community in attendance. He questioned those in attendance if they wanted to proceed this evening or have the hearing continued to another night in a larger facility. The overall consensus was to proceed this evening.
Mr. Shaw introduced the rest of the Board that included Jordan Davenport, Vice Chair, Stephen Lonneman, Curt Baxter, and Alternate, Dr. Greg Hart. He also introduced Walter Wehenkel, the Zoning Inspector & Zoning Commission Secretary along with Matt Montowski, Township Trustee. Chairman Shaw invited alternate Dr. Greg Hart to join the Commission at the table and serve as a voting member.
Chairman Shaw welcomed those in attendance. He stated the Zoning Commission appreciated their interest. He reminded everyone that since the Commission was conducting a public hearing debates and talking amongst themselves would not be permitted. He asked that all attendees sign the register and that any person wishing to speak be recognized by the chairperson, identifying themselves by name and address for the record. He requested that all cell phones be turned off or muted. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.
Chairman Shaw suggested the agenda for the hearing be as follows:
1) Consider application # 008623 from Mathew P. Mecurio & Harold Roth to rezone a parcel of land in Section 3, Lot 13 of Catawba Island Township containing about 1.92 acres including the addresses 3147 and 3169 North East Catawba Rd from the “C-1” Neighborhood Commercial District to the “C-2” General Commercial District.
2) The reading and approval of our last meeting minutes from June 24, 2015.
3) Any old business
4) Any new business
Mr. Shaw requested any additions or changes to the proposed agenda. There were none. He requested a motion to consider application # 008623 from Mathew P. Mecurio & Harold Roth to rezone a parcel of land in Section 3, Lot 13 of Catawba Island Township containing about 1.92 acres including the addresses 3147 and 3169 North East Catawba Rd from the “C-1” Neighborhood Commercial District to the “C-2” General Commercial District. Jordan Davenport so moved and Curt Baxter seconded the motion. The motion passed.
Mr. Shaw then asked if any Commission members had a personal or professional conflict concerning the case. Dr. Greg Hart stated he had a conflict as he works for the real estate company that has the listing on the property in question.
Chairman Shaw requested Jordan Davenport read the legal description for the property to be rezoned. Mr. Davenport read the legal description aloud. Chairman Shaw asked Walter Wehenkel if there was any correspondence concerning the rezoning request. Mr. Wehenkel stated the Commission had received a letter from Dwight and Terry Zeman, opposing the rezoning. Mr. Wehenkel read the letter aloud. Chairman Shaw read the letter from the Ottawa Regional Planning Commission. The Commission recommendation was for approval of the rezoning request.
Chairman Shaw asked who was present representing the application. Matt Mecurio introduced himself. He stated he and his partners purchased the land in 2004. At that time it was zoned “C-2” and “R-4”. He developed the North Pointe Subdivision and requested the front acreage be rezoned to the “C-2” District. The Zoning Commission recommended in favor of the rezoning, but the Trustees modified the change from “C-2” to “C-1”.
The area to the north and to the south of the proposed rezoning is already zoned “C-2”. Not much of the Island is zoned “C-2”. It is mostly clustered in this small area. Of the total frontage owned by his company, Mr. Mecurio stated 150 feet of the 560 feet is already zoned “C-2”.
Mr. Mecurio stated he was approached by a realtor that had a party interested in purchasing the land. He showed a set of plans for a Dollar General store. It is a red brick building which is unlike others that they typically build. It has screening and a parking plan around the building with a berm, on the east side. He reminded the Commission that State Route 53 is a highway and commercial uses usually occur on main thoroughfares.
The present “C-1” zoning would allow for this type of building, but at a smaller size of 4,000 square feet. The main problem is that size building is too small in today’s economics. Businesses just cannot afford to exist in 4,000 square foot spaces. The proposed building has 6,500 to 7,000 square feet of retail floor space plus storage in the back. A neighborhood type business would be the same thing, only smaller in size. It you put up the building and the finances are not there, the business struggles and the building is not maintained.
Mr. Mecurio stated that Dollar General has 11,700 stores in the United States. They will maintain the building. There is a lease in place. This is not a “bait and switch” as Dollar General will be the tenant. He offered to answer questions.
Mr. Shaw opened the hearing up to comments by those in attendance. He requested each individual that spoke stated their name for the record after being recognized by the Chairman.
Quintin Smith was recognized by the Chairman. He reiterated that he heard the square footage being proposed was 6,500 to 7,000 square feet of retail. He also stated he heard the company would not move forward with only 4,000 square feet of retail which is all the present “C-1” zoning allows. Leaving it zoned “C-1” blocks the deal. Mr. Shaw noted the Commission only makes a recommendation to the Trustees. They make the final decision. Their decision could be appealed to Common Pleas Court.
Mr. Mecurio asked Mr. Wehenkel if the proposed store could be placed on the existing “C-2” zoned property and the parking lot placed on the existing “C-1” property. Mr. Wehenkel stated he was uncomfortable answering that question without researching it further and suggested Mr. Mecurio contact him during his normal working hours to discuss that question.
Diane Taylor was recognized by Mr. Shaw. She asked if a traffic study had been done on the proposed project. She stated the recently constructed Dollar General in Danbury Township created some concerns. She asked Mr. Mecurio if that was their responsibility. Mr. Mecurio commented that the proposal is on a State Highway so ODOT would need to issue its approval for an access cut.
Cheryl Petersen was next to speak. She stated she lives in Mr. Mecurio’s subdivision to the east. She felt she would get to look out her home at the dumpsters, loading docks, and stuff at the rear of the building. She asked what the rear of the proposed building would look like. Mr. Mecurio stated when you live in a place long enough you get used to things. He wondered what the difference was between the back of the proposed building versus the existing buildings. The berm is ten feet high so she likely would not see too much. Cheryl Petersen asked if the berm would be owned by Dollar General and if the berm could be removed and the parking lot connected to the township road that serves her subdivision. Mr. Wehenkel noted it is a public road and if the business fronted on it, then that could likely happen.
Pam McKean was recognized. She stated the retail space was listed at 6,500 to7,000 square feet. She wondered what the entire building size was proposed to be. Mr. Mecurio stated it would be about 9,100 square feet.
Al McKean was recognized. He stated the issue is control over the retail concept. One comment for the record was that Dollar General has product for sale on the sidewalk in front of the store. This would not be permitted under the zoning regulations. The “C-2” District requires all retail sales to be inside sales. The overall intent of zoning is to protect the general welfare of the residents and protect their property values. He asked for a show of hands by those in attendance that feel their general welfare would be impacted by this proposal. The Regional Planning Commission has a County wide make-up. The local zoning boards have a better feel for the community. There is “C-2” zoning to the north and south, but they are passive uses. Mr. Mecurio stated his proposal would be moderate to active use. Mr. McKean stated traffic will be significant. The proposal does reflect enhanced improvement to the typical Dollar General store and that is commendable, but he cautioned the Commission members the rezoning to the “C-2” district would allow any permitted use to go on the lot and that the architectural concept presented tonight could be thrown out the window once the property is rezoned. He encouraged the Commission to recommend against the rezoning and send it onto the Trustees.
Mr. Quintin Smith stated he would prefer the Trustees approve it and allow it to go to referendum than to deny the rezoning. Mr. Mecurio stated he was not threatening a lawsuit if the Trustees denied his rezoning request. Quintin Smith stated he did not say anything about a threat of a lawsuit. He stated he only suggested that it would be better for the public to make the decision instead of a judge. Mr. McKean stated he cautioned over referendum petition as it they are not done precisely, they could be thrown out and then the decision of the Trustees stands. Perhaps it is better to take your chances with a no.
Richard Smetzer was recognized by the Chairman. Mr. Smetzer stated he and his wife recently purchased the old Hanko property across the street. He stated he did some research and discovered in 2004 a similar rezoning was put forth and it was modified by the Trustees to the present “C-1” zoning. His main concern is that the Dollar General will enlarge their footprint. Their average store is 10,000 square feet with their largest store at 16,000 square feet. He requested that the zoning change be denied.
Charles Bassett was recognized. He stated he was a bit surprised that the Dollar General would want to place a store on Catawba Island. It does not seem to fit into the spirit of the township. Tourists come here to relax once they cross the causeway. There is a Dollar General in Marblehead and one on State Route 163 in Portage. There is a saturation point that occurs.
Joy Roth was recognized by the Chairman. She asked Mr. Mecurio if he owns another Dollar General store elsewhere. Mr. Mecurio stated he does not and he will not own this one. He is simply selling the land to the company.
Mrs. Tammy Smetzer was recognized. She stated she lives across the street on the former Hanko property. She will have car headlights and sign light shining in her living room window. She asked Mr. Mecurio where he lives. Mr. Mecurio stated he lives in the middle of a condominium development. He neighbor has a swimming pool with a whole lot of lights around it. Mrs. Smetzer stated the Hanko home is one of the oldest homes on Catawba. She stated she would have no intention of staying in the home if the Dollar General is built.
Theresa Spitler was recognized by the Chairman. Mrs. Spitler stated she has not sold out to perspective developers. She owns over 13 acres of land and has been offered lots of money for the land. She stated she would not sell out to big businesses for the money. Residents can go to town for their needs. They have a shoddy looking building in front of Wal-Mart already. She reminded the Zoning Commission that their job is to protect property owner’s interest. It is sad to hear the older homes on the lands will be torn down. She suggested those homes be renovated or new ones built. She is just too upset with a Dollar General in this location.
Mike Mabee of Woodland Drive stated the berm was erected to protect the lots in the subdivision. He stated he is worried for the lot owners if the berm is removed. He stated he felt the community does not want that kind of store. This is a recreation area. The responsibility rests with the Zoning Commission to maintain the quality of life for the residents. This is a residential community and this decision should be made with other community issues in mind. He asked what would be done tonight. Chairman Shaw responded that the Commission will vote and send a recommendation onto the Trustees who will make the final decision. Mr. Mecurio asked when that meeting might be held. Mr. Shaw stated it will likely be held on December 8, 2015.
Bob Pudelski was recognized. He stated he concurs with all of the comments that have been made. The only thing worse, in his opinion, would be a vacant Dollar General store. The demographics are false. People going north won’t stop and people going south are going home. It is ludicrous to think the economic support exists for a store like this.
Donald Shrock stated he is familiar with the Doller General store in Marblehead. Now ODOT is considering a round-a-bout to handle the traffic issues. Making a left turn onto State Route 53 is already problematic. ODOT will be forced to do something at this location if the store is successful and generates the traffic that success will bring just like they are Danbury.
Josh Northrup was recognized by the Chairman. He stated he opposes the change. He stated there is a planned meeting for Catawba Island residents at 6:30 p.m. at Marine Max on November 23rd. He invited those in attendance to come.
Pat Greene was recognized. She stated her concern was at the intersection of Twinbeach and Schoolhouse Road with State Route 53. It is calamity corner already. There are terrible accidents there. She stated there is no need to add additional commotion to the area. The increased traffic will just make it worse. She urged a no vote.
Lee Vivod of Bay Pointe was recognized. Lee stated he is not in favor of the zoning change. He stated there are seven homes on thirty-five house lots. He wondered if the rezoning would help with sales and the value of the lots. He is worried about his own property values. The access to the subdivision road also concerns him.
Laura Matter was recognized by the Chairman. She stated she lives in Rittenhouse. If more people knew about the hearing, more people would have been present. She asked Matt Mecurio how he sleeps at night. Mr. Mecurio responded that he had no idea of the public’s concern until this meeting. Mrs. Smetzer added that once she got a letter in the mail, she went door to door. David Belden was recognized by the Chairman and asked Mr. Mecurio if knowing the flavor of the community on his request now, does he plan to proceed. Mr. Mecurio stated he was not going to answer that question as he cannot speak for his partners.
Mark Kelley of Terrace Circle was recognized by the Chairman. He asked Mr. Mecurio how long the land has been for sale. Mr. Mecurio stated since 2005. Mr. Kelley asked if he had other offers requiring a zoning change. Mr. Mecurio stated he had other offers, but not of this size. Pam McKean stated it is a Dollar General today, but there is no guarantee that is what it will be in the future.
Cheryl Petersen was recognized by the Chairman. She stated once the Commission votes to rezone it, they cannot close that option in the future. The Commission knows what the people feel. She likes Mr. Mecurio and Mr. Roth, but they need to consider the people that live here. It is not like the dental office of Dr. Hart. She requested the Commission deny the rezoning request.
Al McKean was recognized by the Chairman. He stated the traffic generated by a facility like this would be significant. There would be no space left. If built to the maximum, it could get as big as 10,000 to 15,000 square feet. He stated the zoning resolution may need some revisions to reflect what the community wants.
Chairman Shaw thanked everyone for the attendance and comments. He closed the public hearing and advised those in attendance that the Commission would discuss the case and requested those in attendance remain quiet or they could leave if they wished. Stephen Lonneman asked Walter Wehenkel where a building as proposed could be built. Mr. Wehenkel stated it would require a “C-2” or “C-3” zoning classification. Curt Baxter stated most of those in attendance were opposed to the Dollar General, but the “C-2” zoning allows many uses that might be okay. Mr. Lonneman added that this is always taken into consideration. The Planning Commission recommendation and what possibility can occur are considered. This is a political decision and not an administrative decision. There is no communal interest in a single lot. Mr. Baxter stated whether it is a single lot or not, there is still communal interest.
Jordan Davenport commented that the members of the Commission have been around for a while. Some comments from the audience concerning the spirit of the community are well taken. There are three Dollar General stores in close proximity to Catawba. The proposal has brought the community out to the hearing. The township has changed a lot in his 59 years.
Zoning is intended to protect the public health, safety, and welfare as well as protect property values while securing the most appropriate use of land. Stephen Lonneman stated that whether the Commission votes yes or no, the final decision lies with the Trustees. The Trustees will consider the Zoning Commission’s reasoning, but will make their own decision.
Mr. Shaw stated a request has been made in Application # 008623 from Mathew P. Mecurio & Harold Roth to rezone a parcel of land in Section 3, Lot 13 of Catawba Island Township containing about 1.92 acres including the addresses 3147 and 3169 North East Catawba Rd from the C – 1 Neighborhood Commercial District to the C – 2 General Commercial District. Mr. Shaw requested a motion on Application # 008623. Jordan Davenport Moved to not change to zoning to “C-2” as requested. Curt Baxter seconded the motion.
Mr. Shaw stated a “yes” vote indicates you are not in favor of recommending the proposed Application # 008623 from Mathew P. Mecurio & Harold Roth to rezone a parcel of land in Section 3, Lot 13 of Catawba Island Township containing about 1.92 acres including the addresses 3147 and 3169 North East Catawba Rd from the C – 1 Neighborhood Commercial District to the C – 2 General Commercial District. He polled the members with all three members voting yes and Dr. Greg Hart abstaining.
Mr. Wehenkel stated the proposed Application # 008623 from Mathew P. Mecurio & Harold Roth to rezone a parcel of land in Section 3, Lot 13 of Catawba Island Township containing about 1.92 acres including the addresses 3147 and 3169 North East Catawba Rd from the C – 1 Neighborhood Commercial District to the C – 2 General Commercial District will be reviewed by the Township Trustees on December 8, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. That meeting will be held at the Catawba Community Hall on West Catawba Road.
Mr. Shaw stated the Commission would move onto item # 2 on the agenda, the approval of our prior meeting minutes from the June 24, 2015 meeting. Those of you in the audience are welcomed to stay, if you like. Curt Baxter moved to approve the minutes as mailed. Dr. Greg Hart seconded the motion. The motion passed.
Mr. Shaw asked for any old business. There was none. Mr. Shaw asked for any new business. There was none. Mr. Shaw asked for a motion to adjourn. Jordan Davenport so moved. Stephen Lonneman seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.
Walter Wehenkel, Secretary