SALEM - A request to rezone 6.9-plus acres of land south of East Pershing Street from general commercial to residential multi-family for a housing developer now falls to Salem City Council.
All seven members of the city Planning Commission voted to recommend the request to council, under the condition of a 24-month time limit for breaking ground on the proposed apartment project or the zoning will revert to general commercial.
As a means to quell some concerns raised by residents on Oak Street and Tanglewood, Kennedy and Edgewood drives, east of Southeast Boulevard, the commission also agreed to study the idea of rezoning land 300 feet east of the deadends on those streets from residential multi-family to residential single-family.
"Show these people, on these streets, we're going to protect you," city Planning and Zoning Officer Patrick Morrissey told the commission members.
Morrissey said it's likely the rezoning request by the NRP Group for the 6.9-plus acres will be assigned to the Rules & Ordinances Committee of City Council before going to the full council. During the meeting, Councilman Brian Whitehill, who also resides on Tanglewood Drive, suggested the project should come before council's Committee of the Whole.
Whitehill was one of more than 50 people who crowded into council chambers with questions or comments about the project which he said many did not know about until reading about it in the newspaper.
Concerns varied from possible development close to the deadend neighborhoods to drainage problems that could be created on Cunningham and Shining Tree Lane by the construction. Shining Tree Lane resident David Halverstadt, who's also a landlord, questioned the amount of rent that could be charged, saying he's limited to a lot less than that by the government. He questioned the tax credits, the added traffic to Cunningham Road and the drainage especially.
The NRP Group is a Cleveland firm planning a three-phase housing development of apartments and single-family dwellings on vacant land bordering East Pershing Butcher and Cunningham. NRP Group developer Mary Hada explained the company has a purchase option on a 67.7-acre parcel currently owned by Gene Zilavy.
The strip to be rezoned borders the section of Pershing which was extended behind Marc's out to Butcher Road, which was then hooked to Cunningham, with a sidewalk installed the length of Pershing and down Butcher to Cunningham. The remaining 60.8-plus acres is already zoned RA multi-family.
Plans call for an $18 million investment in the First Phase consisting of a 120-unit walk-up apartment complex with a clubhouse located just south of East Pershing Street where it connects to Butcher Road. The Second Phase would consist of 176 walk-up apartments located at the corner of Butcher Road and Cunningham Road, just west of Cunningham Road and southwest of Butcher Road. The Third Phase was described as 50 single family lots, west of Cunningham Road and southwest of Butcher Road extending south to the corporation line.
The map available at the city Planning & Zoning office showed that a wetlands on the western half of the 67.70-acre parcel would remain a wetlands, with most of the development to the east of the high tension wires.
Hada confirmed the intent to keep the wetlands intact and have the development to the east of the stream which runs through the middle of the property. She said the wetlands section of the property is likely in a 100-year flood zone, also, and that, along with the topography and the wetlands would prevent them from building there.
The intent is for the NRP Group to apply for tax credits through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency to construct the project, which will require the company to limit rents to 60 percent of the median income in the area, which she said is $52,100. A family of four with an annual income of $32,160 could qualify to live in the apartments. Rents would start at $603 for a one-bedroom and go up to $836 for a three-bedroom. The breakdown of the 120-unit Phase I facility would be 48 one-bedroom, 48 two-bedroom and 24 three-bedroom apartments in the two-story walkups. Ten units would be market rate units, with 110 tax credit units.
Renters will have to go through what she called a strict resident selection criteria and make at least 2 1/2 times the rental cost. Water and sewer and garbage pickup will all be included in the rent.
"This is not Section 8 housing. This is not project based," she said, but added that if someone has a Section 8 voucher and meets the criteria, they won't be able to turn them down. "This is not rent subsidized in any way."
When asked by Commission Chairman John Panezott about the distance from the development to homes on Oak Street or Tanglewood Drive, it was estimated at 200 feet or more. She also said it was not their intent to extend those deadend streets that abut the property.
She also said they were told the city would require a sewer lift station at the southern most part of the property, near where the single family dwellings would go.
Several residents who live on Oak Street and Tanglewood, Kennedy and Edgewood drives raised questions about having a permanent buffer zone or a deed restriction to make sure nothing could be built on the section of land where the wetlands is located, closer to their properties.
"We have a well-kept middle-class neighborhood and we would like to see it kept that way," Tanglewood resident Judy Sicilia said.
Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey, who lives on Edgewood, agreed that the reason so many people were there was over concern for the impact on their neighborhood. Fellow Councilman Clyde Brown raised an issue over notification of people who live near the property to be developed, but Morrissey said it's not required for Planning Commission. When it comes before council, he said he'll have to notify the neighbors.
Hada urged people to check out the four-story senior rental units they developed, built and manage in Alliance. When questions were raised about the zoning change, she pointed out that they could build right now on a large portion of the property that's already zoned residential multi-family. They wanted to start at the northern end because it's closest to water and sewer access.
Larry Kosiba, who attended meetings with Hada, Mayor John Berlin, Morrissey and Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst, spoke in favor of the project, saying the type of people who would be renting would be young professionals. He said the project will bring jobs and income to the city and could mean more development.