SIDNEY — A request to rezone one parcel of land on the south side of Dingman-Slagle Road from an R-1, single family residence to an R-3, multi-family residence district, was voted down Monday evening by the Sidney Planning Commission.
Approximately 30 people attended the public hearing held on the request of Anna resident Mark Heitman for the rezoning of the parcel of land located on the south side of Dingman-Slagle Road, west of East Ridge Boulevard in Sidney. The property is currently undeveloped.
The purpose of the rezoning request was to allow for multi-family housing and condominiums to be developed on the 8.181 acres of land.
Barbara Dulworth, community development director, recommended denying the request due to concerns about additional strain on the city of Sidney’s services. She also said the proposed zoning does not comply with the city’s comprehensive plan.
Dulworth said with an R-3 zoning, there is the potential for 145-160 units on the property. She said based on an estimated number of fire department calls for service, with an estimate of four calls in a year for 24 units and 23 calls for 145 units, the difference is an additional 19 emergency responses per year. She further explained that while water, sewer and street capacity is available, and must be extended or resized by the developer’s expense, the addition of over 100 dwelling units could strain current fire department services.
Sidney’s comprehensive plan, Dulworth said, identifies the preferred land uses for the area to include parks, single family detached dwellings, commercial uses along state Route 47 and public and semi-public uses. The proposed rezoning does not align with the preferred land uses or the recommendations for this policy area, she noted.
Commission member Merrill Asher asked Dulworth what the difference is between this request and a similar request they heard in December to rezone land on Wapakoneta Avenue from an R-2, single and two-family residential district to an R-3.
Dulworth told Asher the difference is that in this case the proposed zoning does not comply with the city’s comprehensive plan, whereas with the previous case, the comprehensive plan recommended multi-family development on the land. She also noted this rezoning request will more difficult for fire and EMS services to get to the area than with the other area of land.
Heitman, the property owner, said he put in for the rezoning request after receiving interest from a developer to buy the land if the property was rezoned to an R-3. The developer told him he was interested in building “four, six and eight unit condos.”
“I know I had some calls from some concerned citizens about low-income housing or a big, multi-unit complex. That wasn’t really ever the plan. Or at least that is what I was told,” Heitman said. “But if the town doesn’t want it, I’m not one of those guys here to stir the pot either. If it goes, great. If it doesn’t, it can remain the way it is.
Commission Member David Gross, who conducted the meeting board Chairman Tom Ehler’s absence, asked Heitman if the investor was from Columbus. Heitman said no. He told Gross it was a realtor who was working with an investor. Heitman said he was told the interested parties wanted to be left out of the situation until the land is rezoned.
“And so, I’m not here to fight City Hall, guys,” Heitman said to those in attendance. “It if works, great. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
Carroll Street resident Brian Hurst spoke first among many in opposition to the request.
“I have spent the last two weeks walking around and talking to all the neighbors, and we’ve all come to the same conclusion: You can call it an apartment, you can call it a condo, you can call it a townhouse, you can call it a complex, but you put lip stick on a pig, at the end of the day, it’s still a pig. Everyone that I talk to, we are completely against rezoning the property. When we bought our homes there, we had intentions of being in a residential area, a single family residential area.”
Rutledge Street resident Bruce Yoxtheimer, who said his back door is approximately “five giant steps” from the land in question, presented the commission with over 180 signatures on a petition opposing the rezoning request. He said he would welcome any new neighbors joining the community designated as an R-1, but stands firmly against rezoning the area to an R-3.
“An expansion of an R-3 in this area could result in higher traffic, failing or improperly maintaining infrastructure, additional crime, lower property values in the area. There could be negative environmental impacts including trash, noise and aesthetic issues. All of that in a zone, that by the city’s own recommendation, should be used for parks and recreation, single-family, detached dwellings, limited commercial public and semi-public uses. And I don’t believe R-3 matches the city’s vision, or the vision and understanding of the majority of the folks living here,” Yoxtheimer said.
Several other neighboring residents also spoke in opposition to the request. Gross asked if there was anyone in attendance in favor of the request. No one spoke up or signaled they were for rezoning the land.
Gross noted that the city received several letters also opposed to the request.
“Just speaking for myself,” Gross told the crowd, “it makes me feel good to see all of this representation of the neighborhood come out. It shows that you have community, you care about the city, and you care about your neighborhood.”
The board voted to deny recommending Sidney City Council approve the rezoning request, to which the crowd erupted in applause.
The recommendation to deny the request will be sent to Sidney City Council for its approval.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.