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TALLMADGE -- A developer has withdrawn his plan for an apartment project after a standing room only crowd of neighbors packed city hall to urge the Planning and Zoning Commission to oppose it; Tim Merryweather told city officials Feb. 3 "our development team is considering reworking the entire project to create a look and feel that might be acceptable to the community "
On Feb. 9, Tallmadge City Council voted to accept Merryweather Real Estate's request to withdraw its proposal for a conditional zoning application that would have paved the way for the development of a 54-unit apartment complex on 3 acres at 338 W. Howe Road. Two-thirds of the proposed site is in Tallmadge, with the remaining one-third in Cuyahoga Falls. Two separate buildings were envisioned, one with 18 units and three parking garages in Tallmadge and the other with 36 units in Cuyahoga Falls. Merryweather promised the design of the apartments would "appeal to upscale clientele."
The Planning and Zoning Commission conducted a public hearing on the conditional zoning request Feb. 2; after listening to residents voice opposition and concern for two hours, the five-member commission voted unanimously to recommend rejection of it.
"Due to the resounding 'no' vote we received from the planning commission last night, please allow this email to serve as notice that we would like to withdraw our application from consideration at the next Council meeting," Merryweather wrote to city officials the next morning.
Residents raised issues ranging from density and traffic to potential sink holes and the possibility of sinking home values.
William Hostutler of North Ridgecliff said he believes the three-story structure proposed to house the 36 apartments in Cuyahoga Falls would be "disruptive" adjacent the existing single-family homes and condominiums in Tallmadge. Hostetler also suggested the development could aggravate present traffic problems.
Roberta Viger, a retired realtor, said in her experience, people don't want to live near rentals if they can avoid it. She predicted the homes closest to the proposed apartments would suffer the most in terms of devaluation.
Donna Marlow, president of the Ridgewood Condominium Association, presented petitions opposing the proposed apartments. "We are really concerned about the negative impact that it's going to have on our community," Marlow stated, asserting, "It's going to lower our house values, it's going to cause traffic problems, it's going to cause drainage problems it's going to be a lot of noise. ...."
"I don't think we want this in our neighborhood," Marlow declared, to applause from her neighbors.
Wellingshire Circle resident Pam Klundt said she would prefer the site be developed as condominiums or single-family homes. "We don't like the idea of this high occupancy in 3.2 acres sitting there," Klundt stated.
Sylvia Petrosky, a resident of the Ridgewood Condominium complex, suggested the city buy the Howe Road site and designate it as a park.
Millennium Drive resident Chuck Wiede said he's served in the development departments for the cities of Hudson and Stow as well as Summit County. "What I've learned over these years is that certain sites are not conducive to the types of development proposed for them," Wiede said, adding, "This development is one of those cases." He described visibility in the vicinity of the proposed entrance point to the apartments as being "challenging at very best." likening the scenario to an accident waiting to happen. "Once the site is clear-cut by the developer" Wiede said, "I pity the folks who live there on Wellingshire as well as my neighbors on Ridgecliff because they're going to be staring at these two- and three-story apartment buildings, either out of their back door or their front door." If the people who developed the zoning designations for the city of Tallmadge thought that constructing apartments on the site was a good idea, Wiede asserted, the land wouldn't have been zoned R-3, residential, as it is today.
Merryweather and his development partner, Steve Botnick, addressed issues raised by residents. Botnick said the site plan, as proposed, would not add water to compound existing wet yards and drainage problems. Merryweather added an approved storm water management plan would be required before building permits would be issued. Traffic-wise, Botnick reported the development would only add about 200 cars a day to the Howe corridor's 11,500 daily count. According to Merryweather, there are no sub-surface mines, but prior to any construction getting under way, he said soil testing and boring would be conducted. Saying an upscale apartment community is eyed. Merryweather said it would be an asset, not a detriment to property values as residents worry. Addressing the height of the proposed three-story building, Botnick said the developers would observe all the setbacks and building limitations in place. "We have worked very hard to minimize the visual impact that a three-story building is going to have on the neighbors," Botnick said, adding, "This site will be developed -- it's not going to remain a single-family farmhouse forever. We believe we are balancing the needs of the neighbors with our economic needs."
Planning and Zoning Commission member Pat Larson described the size and proximity of the proposed apartments as being "rather intrusive" to the surrounding neighborhoods. Saying the planning commission's role is to weigh whether a proposed project would be "harmonious" to adjacent areas, Larson told his colleagues, "This project is definitely not harmonious in design, in type, to this area It's a great project, but not in that location."
Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Gerald Taylor said height and density were sticking points for him regarding the project.
Commission member Julie Oliver said she was leaning toward "passing on this project and hoping that either this particular developer or some other will come along and do something that we feel is more conducive to this particular location."
"We do appreciate the fact that people are wanting to come in to our community and build in our community," Commission member Dianne Sumego stated, "but I do agree [you need the] right place, right location I think this is going to be an eyesore, it's going to be a three-story building in the middle of residential homes, it's going to stand out "
"The community has spoken," Commission member Stephan Ryder said, noting residents had raised "very legitimate concerns."
Twitter: @ EllinWalsh_RPC