By Heather Beyer
Special to the Beacon Journal
STOW: The city’s Planning Commission voted 4-1 Tuesday to approve auto dealer Ron Marhofer’s proposal to rezone three residential properties for commercial use.
“If approved by City Council, this rezoning paves the way for potential redevelopment and investment at the Marhofer site, which will significantly improve the appearance of the Kent/Darrow Road area,” Planning Director Rob Kurtz said.
Marhofer, who originally requested the zoning change in June 2012, wants to expand his dealership at the corner of Darrow and Kent roads. The renovation would require razing three homes — at 1941, 1947 and 1955 Thorndale Ave. — currently zoned as single-family residential.
The lots total approximately 1.3 acres.
“This rezoning and potential improvement addresses an area of the city that needs attention,” Kurtz said.
Marhofer said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon that he was “encouraged by the decision” and “happy to move the project forward.”
The dealership’s expansion has been a long-standing controversial issue between Marhofer, city officials and neighborhood residents. After the Planning Commission tabled the original rezoning proposal, Marhofer moved forward with a text amendment request to allow auto sales and rental in districts zoned as community retail (C-3) or general business (C-4).
In January, council opted to grant Marhofer’s request to amend the city’s zoning code, which would allow the auto dealer to expand his operations onto the land adjacent to his business — currently zoned as residential — if the parcels were rezoned to commercial.
Five residents addressed the commission with their concerns about the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting.