HARTVILLE  Council overturned a May 9 recommendation by the Planning Commission to disallow the rezoning of three parcels of land south of the Gentle Brook developmental disabilities residence at 880 Sunnyside St. SW and north of Woodland Avenue from R-2 one-and-two-family residential to R-3 multi-family residential.

The request, from property owner Leroy Yoder, proposes a 55-and-older community with single-unit, duplex, triplex and quad condos, along with a 60-unit independent living facility and the possibility of expansion into assisted living facilities.

Yoder said the development would be managed in cooperation with Gentle Brook and would have private roads, water and sewer service provided by the city of Canton, and private fire, EMS and snow removal services, Yoder said. 

Councilwoman Bev Green cautioned that the rezoning refers to the land only and could allow for different development than what Yoder has proposed. 

"I have all the admiration for their intentions – it is a wonderful concept," Green said of the proposed project. "But when you rezone it, they can put anything they want to there – though I’m not saying that is what they want to do."

Village Solicitor Ronald Starkey noted, however, that R-3 zoning is still residential and while it allows for "institutional housing and hospital facilities," it is still residential zoning.

Councilman and Planning Commission Chairman Jim Sullivan said the group's 3-1-1 vote was unanimous but for one abstention and one absent member, and would require five votes of council to overturn in order to hold a public hearing on the issue.

He reiterated Green’s comment that the rezoning is in relation to the three parcels of land and not the proposed project, which, Sullivan said, would still require plan approval from the Planning Commission.

Councilman Jeff Kozy said the latter point is what council should most consider.

"What is our fear if this gets rezoned?" he asked. "If (the rezoning request) gets shot down, it sends a message. There is still a lot of work to be done, but isn’t this (project) the kind of thing we want?"

Sullivan argued that a lower income tax base in a senior development must be considered in light of what kind of long-term economic impact such a project could have on the village. He said the "best balance" of senior housing to non-senior housing for a community like Hartville would include no more than 25 percent senior housing.

Kozy called that methodology "a very poor way to look at" a 55-and-older housing development.

"The average person over 50 is probably earning 25-to-50-percent more than a younger person and (this senior housing project) frees up more housing for younger people to move into the village."

Council voted 5-1, with Green voting no, to oppose the planning commission recommendation and hold a public hearing on the rezoning request at 6:30 p.m. June 20 at village hall, 202 W. Maple St.

Inspectors hired

Council members approved an ordinance to hire as part-time employees four plumbing, electrical and building inspectors the village has to date hired on a contractual basis. 

The hiring will allow the inspectors to participate in employee benefits such as the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, Mayor Cynthia Billings explained. The ordinance was passed on first reading as an emergency, to take effect immediately.

Parking ban ordinance prepared

Council also authorized Starkey to prepare legislation prohibiting parking on roadways in the village less than 20-feet in width. Parking would be permitted on roadways 20-feet wide or more. 

Which side of the roadway will be used for parking has yet to be determined. Parking on both sides of a roadway is currently prohibited on all streets in the village.

New snow plow truck on the way

Council approved the purchase of a Freightliner snow plow truck, with a Henderson dump bed and plow system, for a total cost not to exceed $155,588. 

The truck will replace a vehicle currently in the fleet, Street Commissioner Nate Miller said, and Fiscal Officer Scott Varney added that the purchase is below the state bid amount.