LORAIN — Council approved rezoning on Arizona Avenue, allowing project partner Anthony Giardini to move ahead with plans for storage units and four new condos in Harbor Walk.
Following discussion, an adjournment to a Committee of the Whole, further public comments and questions for Law Director Patrick Riley and Council Clerk Nancy Greer, the ordinance passed 10-2 at Monday’s meeting. Mitch Fallis, D-at large, and Dennis Flores, D-Ward 2, voted against the measure.
Council did amend the ordinance so that if the storage units were to fail somehow, the property would revert back to its original zoning — from an I-1 Light Industrial with a special land-use agreement, back to an R-PUD. The amendment passed 11-1, with Flores voting against it.
The rezoning has been a point of contention, with residents in Harbor Walk filing a petition — with more signatures recognized Monday — against the measure.
Several residents spoke against the issue, including Leslie Richardson, who created the petition against the rezoning. She said the majority of residents in the development don’t want storage containers to go on the property off Arizona Avenue — right at the development’s entrance — and expect to see a decrease in property values because of it.
“A number of you have come out to look at the property, and I’ve stood on it with you and showed you exactly where it was going to be. I also tried to show you and share with you some of the beauty of the Black River and of downtown Lorain that I’ve seen living there for the last 13 years. I want to remind you that Arizona Avenue is a residential street, it’s not East Erie (Avenue), it’s not commercial,” she said.
She added, “Of the upper portion of Harbor Walk, which is where all the standalone homes are, there’s 47 households there. I had signatures representing 68 percent of those households. Those are the people that will be most impacted by the traffic and the view of that storage facility.”
Giardini, lawyer and partner in the project, said the units are part of a plan to spur further investment in the development — as they are in conjunction with a set of four townhomes to be built on the river’s edge. He said the storage units will be open only to Harbor Walk residents and styled to match the townhomes beside them. As for concerns on what the units would do to the view for residents and visitors of the city’s waterfront, Giardini pointed to Harbor Walk’s surrounding properties.
“There’s a gas station to the north, there’s a 25-foot high, white, metal building to the west,” Giardini said. “That’s what people who are at Black River Landing looking across will see. And the other thing they’ll see, if this project goes forward, is four condominiums, each $350,000 sitting right next to each other, one of which will be mine.”
Council also discussed at some length an authorization allowing Safety/Service Director Dan Given to enter into a contract for the Black River Wastewater Facility Mechanical Bar Screen project. The project is required by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, requiring its approval at Monday’s meeting for the city to avoid possible fines, Director of Utilities Paul Wilson explained.
“The requirement came out about two years ago and about a year-and-a-half ago we entered the funding cycle, we went into engineering and now we’re in the bidding process,” Wilsons said.
He added, “The reason for this mandate is our sludge goes to farm fields during the summer and they just want to remove all the solids like plastics from entering the farm field.”
The project is estimated at $1.2 million and will be paid with a low-interest loan from the Ohio EPA and Ohio Water Development Authority. The loan will be repaid through the recent increase in water rates.
Bids on the project are open through 11 a.m. Nov. 26. The project is to install a mechanical bar screen, debris conveyor, slide gates, electrical equipment, a pre-fabricated enclosure and demolition pertaining to the city’s disposal of sludge waste. It screens out solids going through the plant.