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Planning Commission— Home, Inc. apartments not approved

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The large size and tall height of a proposed affordable senior apartment building were the sticking points for Planning Commission this week as it reviewed a zoning application for the project.

At an impasse on those issues at its Dec. 10 regular meeting, Planning Commission did not approve the preliminary plan for Planned Unit Development, or PUD, zoning for the project, a 54-unit multi-family building between East Herman and East Marshall streets.

Home, Inc. and its partner in the project, St. Mary Development Corporation of Dayton, applied for the PUD because the proposal exceeds the allowable density and height restrictions and does not meet requirements for parking spaces set out in the Village zoning district, among other deviations.

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Council will ultimately decide the fate of the application, starting with a discussion of Planning Commission’s recommendation at its Dec. 17 regular meeting.

Specifically, the commission was divided in a 2–2 vote over several qualifying conditions and standards related to density of units and the height of the structure. The votes of commission members Ted Donnell and AJ Williams on those issues led to the application not being approved.

“I think the project is too large for that particular location,” Donnell said at the meeting. He added that the new zoning code was created “to maintain a small town character.”

Home, Inc. has stated that the density is necessary to be competitive in a request for federal tax credit funding for the project. Meanwhile, the height of the four-story structure, at a peak of 56 feet, was based upon a compromise with the project’s immediate neighborhoods.

Home, Inc. and St. Mary have said that those features would not be changed.

Planning Commission Chair Frank Doden joined with Council liaison Marianne MacQueen in voting to approve enough of the conditions and standards of the application that it would have been passed if they had another vote behind them.

MacQueen argued that an apartment building for low- and moderate-income seniors, which has been identified as a local need, would improve the small town appeal and address demographic trends.

“Will this building help create a sense of community? I can tell you yes, it will.”

The recommendation from Planning Commission that will now go to Council states that while the commission could not reach a majority vote on the qualifying conditions, there was affirmative support for many of the aspects of the plan. The commission additionally recommended that a traffic study coordinated by the Village be undertaken should Council decide to approve the application.

The commission has fewer members than usual since member Susan Stiles recused herself from the discussions and vote due to her connections with Home, Inc., and Rose Pelzl recently left the commission to take a job with the Village.

In other Commission business:

• A conditional use permit was unanimously approved for a new medical massage therapy office at 127½ Glen St. Jess Holihan, a licensed massage therapist, told the commission she will see about 20 clients per month at her home therapy office.

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