Lack of Quorum Stalls Planning, Zoning Action

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The city Board of Zoning Appeals and City Planning Commission will take up several requests next month for variances and zoning changes it took testimony on Tuesday afternoon. 

Lacking a quorum to take any action at its scheduled meeting, the three members of the seven-member board who were present – Deputy Director of Public Works Charles Shasho, Law Director Jeff Limbian and Patricia Speth – listened as project representatives and individuals who wanted to weigh in on the requests provided testimony. The transcribed information is to be provided to the board’s members and discussed at the next meeting in December. 

Among the applications were requests for variances by architect Ron Faniro of Faniro Architects, representing the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County, and architect Joseph Steines of GDP Group, on behalf of the Western Reserve Transit Authority.  

The library is seeking a zoning variance to reduce the rear yard setback at its Newport Branch to 11 feet from 25 feet to accommodate a three-bay expansion to its garage. Its maintenance department uses the garage at the main library branch, and the expansion would allow the library to consolidate maintenance and demolish the garage at main.

As part of the upcoming $21 million renovation of Main Library, parking there is being restructured and the existing garage is “smack dab in the middle of everything,” Aimee Fifarek, library executive director, said. 

The addition will be used for equipment storage and for the department’s woodworking shop, now located in Main’s garage. The department builds shelving and other pieces that would be more expensive for the library to purchase.

“The maintenance team is located at the Newport library, so it makes sense to consolidate all of their space in one location,” she said. 

WRTA is seeking to replace the existing static panel signs on the three-sided tower sign at Federal Station downtown. The static panels would be replaced with digital ones that can display changes in routes and other updates, Steines said. 

The variance is needed because current city ordinances state a digital sign can only be on one face of a structure.

A request for two variances from Olsavsky Jaminet Architects Inc. that was continued from last month’s meeting will be taken off next month’s agenda, Shasho said. 

Olsavsky Jaminet’s client, Santisi Wholesale Food Co., 832 Mahoning Ave., had sought variances to eliminate landscaping requirements for street trees and for placement of outside storage areas and docks for a proposed 4,785-square-foot dry goods building, but further investigation disclosed that the variances weren’t required.  

No one representing Santisi attended Tuesday’s meeting, but Mike Santisi, president, said in a phone interview that he had been notified that the variance was not needed. The company is still getting quotes for the project.

“I’m hoping to begin construction in March,” Santisi said. In the meantime, he has other locations for dry goods storage, he said.  

The three board members also heard requests to rezone two lots on East Woodland Avenue, from Mixed-Use Community to Single Family Residential. Julius and Jasmine Oliver plan to build a house on the two lots plus an adjacent property that already is zoned residential, said Robert Struharik III, operations director for Master Plan Builders.

Julius Oliver represents the city’s First Ward on City Council and owns Kingly Hand Wash and Wax.

The site has been vacant for some time, Struharik said. Redeveloping the property will set an example for what can be done, he said. 

During a session that lasted about an hour, the board also heard from Michael and Pamela Sabol, who are proposing to open a pair of sober houses on Milton Avenue and Winona Drive. Several individuals and organizations expressed their objections in person or in writing, including the City Council members representing the houses’ respective wards and the Idora Neighborhood Association. 

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.