NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Most of the nearly 100 people crammed into Council chambers at City Hall burst into applause and cheering as City Council voted against rezoning a parcel of property on the northwest corner of Sugar Ridge and Bender roads Monday night.
Council voted down the ordinance, 2-4, with Council President Kevin Corcoran, R-at large, abstaining after four of the seven-member Council voted no. Councilmen Gregg Westover, R-1st Ward, Dennis Boose, D-2nd Ward, Bruce Abens, R-3rd Ward and Bob Chapek, D-4th Ward, all voted against the ordinance that would have changed 26 of the parcel’s 32 acres from residential to light industrial.
Westover, Boose and Chapek were expected to vote against the ordinance, but admittedly Abens, whose ward the parcel of land is in, was on the fence about which way he would vote.
“This is why there are three readings demanded by the different regulations and bylaws,” Abens said during the meeting prior to the vote. “Three readings allow for careful consideration of all the points of an issue. It allows Council members to investigate and hear the different views. After all, the decision made tonight could affect the future of this area for the next 100 years.”
In July, the city received a request to rezone the parcel from residential to light industrial from the property’s owner, Triple 7 LLC. The proposal originally asked that all 32 acres be rezoned.
After the owner learned that several of the residents in the area opposed the change, he withdrew the request. Shortly after, he submitted a second request that asked for only 26 of the 32 acres to be rezoned, in order to leave a “residential buffer” between the residents and the industrial-zone land.
Over the past few months, the residents in the area have been vocal about their opposition to the change, saying that they want to preserve the rural feel of the area. Numerous community members have spoken during Council meetings to convince Council to vote down the ordinance.
The residents recently formed the Ridgeville Residents Committee and have been gathering signatures from registered voters in the city. According to the group’s acting chairman, Mike Babet, the group gathered 750 signatures.
On Monday, the lobby portion of the Council meeting, along with the public hearing held prior to the meeting, lasted for more than an hour.
While the parcel will not be rezoned to industrial, members of Council said that doesn’t mean it will remain undeveloped.
“In essence, it comes down to growth versus status quo; of course there are finer points to this issue,” Aben said. “The local residents want this area to remain as it is and retain the R-1 zoning. They want the area to maintain a rural, residential flavor. My hope is that they realize when, not if, a developer appears to put in housing, the zoning allows them to do so over the local residents’ objections.”
Councilwoman Roseanne Johnson, R-at large, who voted in favor of rezoning, said something similar.
“The question before us is not will the property be developed? It will be developed,” she said prior to the vote. “The question is will it be developed completely as residential or a mixture of residential and industrial. My vote tonight … will address both the city’s need for industrial and the neighbor’s wishes for a residential buffer.”
Bernadine Butkowski was the other no vote.