STOW: City Hall was packed Monday evening with concerned residents as council reviewed several controversial pieces of legislation.
First on the agenda was a public hearing for a rezoning request made by auto dealer Ron Marhofer that has stirred controversy within the community.
Marhofer wants to redevelop the area around his business at Darrow and Kent roads. Among the key components of the proposal are eliminating Yukon Road, which bisects the dealership property, and improving the intersection at Thorndale Avenue and Darrow Road so it would be a normal 90 degrees.
The project would also involve demolishing some existing homes on Thorndale Avenue.
It was reported at the May 22 planning meeting that Marhofer has purchased the home located at 1955 Thorndale Ave., and he pursuing the houses at 1941 and 1947 Thorndale Ave. He would then raze those homes in order to expand the dealership, if council approves the rezoning proposal.
Over the summer, Marhofer chose to table the issue to negotiate with Thorndale Avenue residents. The parties were unable to come to an agreement, and the issue is back before council.
Resident Steve Mazziotta said he was in favor of Marhofer's rezoning request.
“When I purchased my home over 11 and a half years ago I did my research," Mazziotta said. "During the entire time that we have lived in our home we have not had one complaint against the Marhofer dealership."
Mazziotta sold his property on Thorndale Avenue to Marhofer. Mazziotta encouraged council to look into all the property values on Thorndale Avenue.
"I have listened to people opposed to the text amendment say they didn’t know that the dealership is there," he said. "Along with a possible vacant business what other incentive would Marhofer have to stay in Stow. No residents rights have been taken or infringed upon except Mr. Marhofers."
Mazziotta asked council to recognize the commitment Mr. Marhofer has to the City of 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 was also present at the meeting.
"It was around this time last year that we were looking for our new home," Burley said.
Burley said her and her husband also did their research when it came time to purchase their property on Thorndale Ave. and they said they hope that council will take the time to do their research before rendering their vote.
The item is expected to be on the agenda for its third reading at Thursday’s council meeting.
Residents voice displeasure with Redmon proposal
Another controversial piece of legislation that has continued into 2013 is a request made by Redmon Funeral Home. The item created a heated scene at Monday’s council meeting.
For the past six months, council has been reviewing a request made by Redmon Funeral Home to use cremation equipment in their funeral home.
Owner Keith Redmon said the family wants to offer customers the service of cremation at their establishment, but must get the council’s permission before doing so. At this time, families seeking cremation services have to look outside of the community.
Residents that live near the funeral home are opposed to the legislation.
Traci Kosmach lives on Williamson Road and along with her husband is in opposition against the proposed legislation.
“To be honest, I am confused why this discussion has gone on for so long,” Kosmach said.
Kosmach said that she does not have air conditioning and keeps her windows open for several months during the year and is concerned that all the emissions that come out of the crematorium will come into her house.
“My reason for opposing this is very simple,” she said. “I do not want a mega furnace in my neighborhood.”
Kosmach said that she wants council to protect her neighborhood.
"At the last meeting I heard the mayor state that we need to be business friendly and I understand that," she said. This is not an example of being business friendly.
“If you knew in your heart that this is what was best for our community, for our neighborhood, someone would have maintained that goal to make that clear to all of us by now,” she said.
While Kosmach's opinion was representative of the speakers on Monday night, some residents voiced support of the proposal at an earlier meeting.
Stow Alliance Fellowship senior pastor John Kitchen, who lives near the funeral home located at 3633 Darrow Road, said he is not worried about potential enviornmental issues related to the equipment.
“The Redmons are not only wonderful professionals but they were truly compassionate, caring and sought to do what is best for their customers,” Kitchen said during the Dec. 13 meeting. “They have been long residents and contributors to this community. Their excellent reputation has been earned one family at a time in those darkest hours of their lives. They have proven again and again that they cared about the people of this community.”
Council also will address this item at their next meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday. The deadline for council to vote on this item ends this week.