Economic Development

Planning Commission Again Defers on Rezoning Medart

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Youngstown Board of Zoning Appeals and City Planning Commission again deferred action on a request by St. Augustine Society Inc. to rezone the former Medart building on Glenwood Avenue.

St. Augustine, a social service organization that operates a café in the Newport Branch of the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County, applied earlier this year to rezone the building from MU-I Mixed Use Institutional to RT-5.5, One- and Two-Family Residential.

At its meeting last month, the panel couldn’t act for lack of a quorum. This time it took no action because no one representing the society attended Tuesday’s meeting.

The society plans to offer transitional housing for its employees in the building, which it is leasing from Steel Valley Housing for Youth. The café employs youths age 16 to 24 who have been referred by organizations that include churches, the juvenile courts and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

The late Dr. Richard Murray resided and operated his plastic surgery practice out of the building, 2125 Glenwood Ave., until the 1990s, when the Ohio State Medical Board revoked his license for prescribing steroids to local athletes, according to published reports.

In other action, the zoning board voted against recommending a request to vacate a portion of public right-of-way on Lansing Avenue at the request of John Kennedy, owner of the Royal Oaks.

Kennedy sought to have the right-of-way vacated to allow him to add an outdoor patio to the bar, 924 Oak St.

“He said the most cost-effective way to put the outdoor patio in would be on that side of the street and it would be in the street,” said Bill D’Avignon, city community development director and chairman of the panel. Kennedy owns the property on both sides of Lansing, he said.

Kennedy was absent from Tuesday’s meeting but had offered testimony at a meeting in March.

The board sought opinions from the city police and fire chiefs regarding the request to vacate the street.

Police Chief Robin Lees offered no objection in his letter to the commission. But in his letter, Fire Chief John O’Neill raised objections based on safety concerns.

“First, there are still houses, businesses and a religious assembly on the streets behind Royal Oaks that require Lansing as our quickest and easiest means of access,” the fire chief wrote. “Although ‘going around the block’ may appear to be a minor delay to the first due company … it is a delay nonetheless.”

More troubling, he continued, are “greater delays” truck responding from the east to a structure fire would encounter.

In addition, ladder trucks have more difficulty maneuvering around corners from a small street such as Emmet Avenue onto Landing, in addition to semi-truck deliveries to Dom’s ice that frequently make Emmet impassible, he said.

Safety issues are “some of the big concerns we look at when vacating roadways,” said Chuck Shasho, deputy director of public works and a member of the committee.

“This wasn’t a paper street,” he added. “This is an active roadway with traffic.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.