City Council rejects Highway 60 rezoning request

Action overturns vote by planners

By TIM SINIARD
Posted 9/10/19

A request to rezone six properties on Georgetown Road — where residents claim a massive road-widening project planned for next year will negatively affect their property values — was denied by …

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City Council rejects Highway 60 rezoning request

Action overturns vote by planners

Posted

A request to rezone six properties on Georgetown Road — where residents claim a massive road-widening project planned for next year will negatively affect their property values — was denied by the Cleveland City Council Monday.

The landowners were seeking to change the zoning status of their properties from residential to professional institutional.

The motion to deny the request passed 5 to 1, with Councilmen Tom Cassada, David May, Dale Hughes, Ken Webb and Vice Mayor Avery Johnson voting against the rezoning request and Councilman Bill Estes voting to approve. Councilman Charlie McKenzie abstained.

The zoning request was unanimously approved by the Cleveland Municipal Commission last month after it voted on the measure a second time after the City Council requested it review the request a second time.

The petitioners may not submit another rezoning request until next year.

The widening project includes a  5.9-mile stretch of roadway — also referred to as Highway 60 — which runs from Interstate 75 to State Route 306. It consists of three-lane sections, passing lanes, 12-foot travel lanes and eight-foot shoulders.

The Georgetown road project has been in the planning stages for several years. The bidding process is expected to begin in October.

The six properties directly face the highway, which is lined with a bank, entrances to subdivisions, as well as a strip center that contains physicians offices.

Two residents of subdivisions located near the six homes, Roger Schmurr and Joseph Lombard were against rezoning the properties, claiming that changing their status to professional institutional would result in increased traffic, as well as more commercial development in the area.

Lombard requested the Council deny the request to wait until the road-widening project was completed next year. He also said he could not visualize how the project would affect the properties.

“I'm requesting that you deny this rezoning request,” Lombard said. “I'm also concerned about the fact that ... one of the homes would be turned into an office. We have no idea what that will look like. We have only just an imagination.”

In addition, Lombard said he could not “envision” how the road-widening project would affect the area, especially the six properties included in the rezoning request.

“I cannot envision except try to create in my mind what Georgetown Road will look like, once it has been widened,” Lombard said. “I can't envision the slopes, or what all the (survey) stakes are. I know what they're supposed to mean, but I can't envision that. I can only conceive in my mind what it might look like. I'm not too sure that if once this project were to be completed, the homes that are there now ... the values might increase."

In addition, Schmuur claimed the road-widening project would not result in property value losses.

“I'm a little concerned about the proposition the owners of these homes are going to lose their equity,” Schmurr said. “For the public record, the opponent’s home was purchased almost exactly 20 years ago, for just under $77,000.

Schmurr said a bank earlier this year had refinanced the home for $142,000, “knowing full well the road is coming in there.”

“I don’t think anybody is going to lose any equity,” he said. “Those owners will do very well.”

The owner of the house in guestion, Anthony Raspa, said he and the five other property owners were “just trying to prepare for the future.”

“Our biggest concern right now is that we are going to be in a situation where we potentially could lose equity in the properties,” Raspa said. “And if we're not set up to have that taken care of … then nobody will be wanting to purchase these properties for single-family homes.”

Raspa also said the current traffic situation made it dangerous for him to exit his driveway, adding that widening the highway would make the situation worse. The traffic volume in the area was also caused by the presence of the subdivisions, which were developed after he had purchased his home in the late 1990s.

However, Councilman Cassada wondered if it would be a good idea to have an office located on a dangerous street entrance.

Cassada then said he wanted to wait and return to the rezoning issue at another time.

“There's a lot  of different moving parts on this,” Cassada said. “And I don't want to get too far ahead right now until we have a better lay of the land.”

Councilman Estes was dubious of the zoning opponents’ claims that they could not envision how the road-widening project would affect the area.

“You can't envision it?" Estes asked. “Yes, you can. You can look at the map and see what it says.”

Estes said voting against the zoning request after it had been twice supported by the planning commission was “not right.” In addition, Estes said the zoning proponents had followed the proper channels to obtain approval for rezoning.

“This is wrong,” Estes said. “These people have done everything right. This is not what's best.”

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