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Lorain Council votes unanimously to approve rezoning to lure VA back

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LORAIN — City Council voted unanimously to approve the rezoning for six parcels of land Monday night to make way for a new Department of Veterans Affairs Community-Based Outpatient Clinic.

At the last meeting before the body takes its annual recess during August, the nine members in attendance voted to rezone the properties sitting along West Erie Avenue near the intersection with Kolbe Road from residential to business, allowing for the construction of a medical building.

By rezoning the land, City Council is making it so the VA can give the site its stamp of approval for a new clinic, which would bring the agency back to Lorain after it left its home in the St. Joseph Community Center at the end of 2015 for Sheffield.

Councilman Joe Koziura, D-at large, said he’ll be pleased with the project if it comes to fruition.

“I was the mayor when they were originally going to put the veterans center in Elyria and I called the director in Cleveland and we were both Vietnam veterans,” he said. “The plans changed, and we got it at St. Joe’s. Hopefully we’ll be successful.”

Councilman Mitch Fallis,D-at large, and Councilwoman Mary Springowski, D-at large, both said they supported the rezoning but only if Council can revert the zoning back to residential if the project doesn’t happen.

Council clerk Nancy Greer said it would have to go back to the Planning Commission first.

Council also unanimously approved new legislation in which the city will charge residents for when police officers are called to their homes for false security alarms.

“We’re moving ourselves out of drug areas, away from investigations to respond to fantasy calls,” said Lorain police Capt. Roger Watkins. “We’re not out here to make money. We’re giving people two freebies, so we can explain to them what’s going on and they can get their alarm system fixed.”

Police Sgt. Ray Colon, a crime analyst for the department, said about 34 percent of the places where police are called to because of false alarms are responsible for 63 percent of the total false alarm calls.

“Alarms are 7 percent of our calls coming from the public,” he said. “Last year, we responded to 2,439 alarms and 81 percent of those were false. False alarms are at least a two-officer call, and we’re flying a Code 2, which is lights and sirens, disobeying laws of traffic to get there as fast as possible. Eight times out of 10 it’s a false alarm.”

Colon said the percentage of times the call is actually a false alarm as opposed to a real one is probably closer to 90 percent because if an officer adds additional information when he clears the call through dispatch it might not necessarily be classified as a false alarm.

According to the legislation, sending officers to that many false alarms costs $40,000 a year.

The legislation states residents will be charged $35 per call if officers are called to their homes three, four or five times in a calendar year. They are charged $75 for calls six and seven and $100 per call after that in addition to being labeled a nuisance property.

The law also applies to businesses in the city.

Contact Katie Nix at 440-329-7129 or knix@chroniclet.com. Find her on Facebook and Twitter @KatieHNix.


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