Attempting to prevent construction of three, four-plex dwelling units at the entrance of their neighborhood, homeowners and residents of a development of single family homes in the Sigle Lane-Walker Mill Rd. area, in the southwestern portion of Boardman Township, took the unusual position of appealing a decision of Boardman Township Zoning Inspector Sarah Gartland who had already denied a permit to build the four-plex units.
The single-family home neighborhood was developed about 50 years ago.
142 persons who reside in the neighborhood and who signed a petition opposing the four-plex units, don’t want the four-plexes built at the entrance to their neighborhood, claiming such construction would eventually reduce the value of single family homes, as has already happened in several areas of Boardman Township.
40 years ago, builders would claim four-plex residences as well as apartment complexes would provide a ‘buffer’ between retail and commercial developments, and single-family neighborhoods. Those claims, four decades later, have not been substantiated, many opposed to the four-plexes say.
David Kosec, a managing member of 1985 LLC, had filed for a zoning permit to construct the buildings on May 22.
A little more than two weeks later, Ms. Gartland denied the request, saying Kosec’s application did not meet requirements of Site Plan Review, including landscaping and storm water management, and did not contain an approved site plan, as required by Boardman Township zoning regulations.
Kosec hired counsel to appeal that decision to the township’s Zoning Board of Appeals, that heard the case on July 31.
The Zoning Board of Appeals not only affirmed Ms. Gartland’s denial, but also strengthened that decision, ordering Gartland to issue an “amended denial,” saying Kosec’s application was not timely and the 1985 LLC had “acquired no vested right.”
“By denying the [zoning] application based solely upon the failure to provide a site plan, the Zoning Inspector’s decision ignored...critical factual and legal realities,” Atty. Bryan Ritter argued in behalf of homeowners and residents at the Zoning Board of Appeals hearing.
“Mahoning County building regulations require an approved zoning permit before a building permit can be issued. At the time of its application, 1985 LLC could not have applied for a building permit, let alone commenced the construction process. Accordingly, there was no legal or factual basis for 1985 LLC to claim it has acquired a vested right to build the...non-conforming structures proposed it its...application,” Atty. Ridder said.
Counsel for the builder, Atty. Stuart Strasfeld, argued the application filed by 1985 LLC was “complete and compliant with...the Boardman Township Zoning Resolution which is applicable to residential R-2 districts in which our client’s property is located.”
He noted “When we applied, we fully complied with the law. Our application was improperly denied.”
The hearing before Boardman Township’s Zoning Board of Appeals drew a standing room only crowd at the Government Center.
William Chipps, of 8077 Sigle Lane, told the Zoning Board of Appeals he lives directly across the street from the site of the proposed four-plex units.
“We don’t want multi dwellings,” Chipps said.
Anne Vacca, of 7943 Sigle Lane, asked members of the appeal board, “How would you feel if this was your neighborhood?
“Please take our feelings into consideration.”
Another resident, Nancy Skopic, of 1481 Tamarisk Trail, said she raised two kids as a widow in a safe, friendly neighborhood.
“If you grant this [permit], people will leave,” she observed.
Elaine Fisher, of 7983 Sigle Lane, said she loves the neighborhood “the way it is.”
Bill Pellin, of 7988 Sigle Lane told the appeals board, “If these apartments are built, the neighborhood will go downhill.”
Following comments from counsel and residents, the Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously to “amend” Ms. Gartland’s denial of the proposed dwellings, as Atty. John Shultz, chairman of the board noted “This is quite a technical issue. The board also voted unanimously to deny Strasfeld’s request to allow the zoning permit.
Following the hearing Strasfeld has 30 days to appeal the decision(s) to a civil court.
Prior to the Zoning Board of Appeals ruling on the proposed four-plex development, Boardman Trustees met to consider rezoning the property from R-2, that would permit apartments, to R-1, that allows only single family homes.
The measure was unanimously approved.
“We want to make sure we have done everything we could to to protect the integrity of this neighborhood,” Brad Calhoun, chairman of the Boardman Township Board of Trustees said.