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Council won't stop new service garage
Council won't stop new service garage
By JOSEPH KOZIOL JR.
Chardon residents opposed to a new city service garage complex failed to win City Council's support in stopping the project last week.
Council voted 5-2 against a motion to pull plans for the new service garage, slated for 501 N. Hambden St., from the city's planning commission agenda on Nov. 21.
Councilman John Mallen had proposed the delay to study whether the city is considering raising water and sewer rates. He said the issue is a matter of finances, something he's also concerned about with the new complex.
Councilwoman Deborah Reiter, who joined him on the vote, said she also is concerned with the estimated $4.9 million cost for the complex.
Plans for a conceptual site plan approval and two associated variances will now go before the planning board.
The financial issues raised by Mr. Mallen and Mrs. Reiter have been raised as well by residents to the west and south of the project who are opposed to it. They have said the city should not undertake such a costly project during these economic times. In addition, residents said, they have concerns about noise, lighting and pollution from the new complex.
Patrick Thornton, of R.E. Warner, of Westlake, told officials the plans include clearing the land by late 2011, finishing the design by January 2012, beginning construction in April 2012 and finishing by the fall of 2012.
The project is to include a 15,900-square-foot, 13-bay service garage, a 14,400-square-foot, 4,700-ton salt storage building, a 4,550-square-foot, unheated storage building, lean-tos for bulk material storage, above-ground fuel tanks and a site for snow storage.
City Manager Randal Sharpe said the complex is intended to meet the city's future needs.
"It is much more than just a garage," he said. "We are obviously replacing the garage, but we're meeting needs that were identified well over a decade ago."
The city's former garage burned down in March 2008. The city bought the 8.46-acre parcel on North Hambden Street in 2009 and began making plans for the new complex.
Although residents called for a scaled-down version of the complex, most officials said it's better to meet the city's needs.
The service garage would hold only the vehicles the city has now, Mr. Thornton said, as well as one additional truck that will be needed to plow city streets.
Gayland Moore, the city's public service director, said scaling down the proposed salt shed would offer little relief to residents. He said the 42-foot-high building is needed to allow trucks to dump their loads, regardless if the building is reduced in length. He said residents will still see about 15 feet of the roof of the building, regardless of its length. "So, aesthetically, you're going to see the same thing," he said.
Mr. Thornton said the city is also considering designing the building to represent a barn, much like it did with its water treatment plant on Bass Lake Road. "We're trying to make it more as a farm atmosphere," he said.
He said traffic patterns are also being designed to minimize the backing of trucks and that lighting will not spill beyond the property boundaries. He said as much of the trees and bushes will be preserved as possible and landscaping will also be included as buffering.
North Hambden Street resident Rebecca Cole said the complex would be better suited for a commercial or industrial area of the city, rather than the residential area where it is proposed.
"Our concern is you're opening up another area in Chardon that is meant to be residential, that's now going to be industrial-commercial-special use," she said.
She said the city should have sought a property at the corner of Washington Street and Fifth Avenue.
City Engineer Douglas Courtney said the city did look at that property, but the cost was $2 million and had "environmental contamination" that would have hampered development.
Mrs. Cole said the city should put the matter to a vote citywide to decide whether all residents want the complex in a residential area.
Her husband, Thomas Cole, said the project is not benefiting the city or its taxpayers. He said the concerns of negative impacts included fiscal responsibility, safety, residential zoning controls, property values, environmental issues, the right of citizens, the responsibility of city government and quality of life.
He asked that the city withdraw its application to the planning commission, halt further work and look elsewhere to build the complex.
Downing Drive resident John Dutton asked for all documents related to the city's search for an appropriate property and faulted the city for not inviting residents into the process.
"The citizens should have been involved, the planning commission should have been involved before any money was spent," Mr. Dutton said.
Mrs. Reiter said the matter has been in the city's newsletter since 2009, and local newspapers have given it regular coverage.
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