STOW: The Planning Commission approved a text amendment request made by auto dealer Ron Marhofer to permit auto sales and/or rental as a conditional use in C-3 Community Retail District.
City Council will now address the request at the recommendation of the commission.
John Slagter, Marhofer’s attorney, addressed the commission and residents at Tuesday’s meeting.
“We are pleased with the decision of the planning commission, legally we believe it was correct and also from a planning perspective we believe it was correct,” said Slagter, an attorney at Buckingham Doolittle & Burroughs. “I’ve looked at other communities in the area and I have been practicing in planning and zoning law for over 20 years. Clearly the current restrictions on the Marhofer dealership are too restrictive and they don’t recognize that this business has been here for a 100 years.”
Marhofer wants to redevelop the area around his business, which would involve the demolition of existing homes on Thorndale Avenue and the elimination of Yukon Road.
Stow residents Allyson C. Burley and her husband purchased a home on Thorndale Avenue in April and after they moved in were notified about the proposal. Their attorney Michael Gordon addressed the planning commission.
“You should not approve this and move on,” Gordon said. “You should stop this right now and nip it in the bud. What you are being asked to do is grease the skids for an attempt to rezone residential for a parking lot.”
Gordon said the comprehensive plan that exists for Stow states the city should confine commercial development because it is an important way of reserving the character of the city.
“Today is Election Day and I am proud to be here because it is about the rule of law, Gordon said. “It’s about you protecting the small guy from the big guy.”
Former Stow Mayor Karen Fritschel said she was in support of the request made by Marhofer. She said when she was mayor the city rezoned many times.
“It was one of the best things that we have done for our city,” Fritschel said. “Rezoning happens all the time, it is not something that is unusual. What really concerns me if it doesn’t work out and Mr. Marhofer leaves; you have a vacant property. That is a huge concern to me. I think that we should not look at this change as something negative, but something positive for the city.”