Findlay City Planning Commission today recommended City Council rezone the former site of St. Michael Catholic School, on Western Avenue, to allow town houses.

The vote was 4-1 with Mayor Lydia Mihalik, and other commission members Brian Thomas, Jackie Schroeder and Dan DeArment supporting the zoning change. Commission member Dan Clinger voted against it.

Clinger said he would prefer the L-shaped site, between Adams and Putnam streets, remain zoned for single-family housing.

But Tony Scanlon wants multiple-family, high-density zoning to build the townhouses he has in mind. Property owners on Putnam and Adams streets voiced concerns the townhouses would worsen the already congested traffic in the neighborhood.

Scanlon also has been considering townhouses which would be three stories tall. Residents at the meeting objected to that, saying three story buildings would be an “eyesore,” and “too obnoxious” for their residential area.

“When you’re saying three floors, to me that’s a monster,” said a woman who lives on Adams Street. “It’s going to take away light, sight.”

Here’s the rub for Scanlon: the third story appears to be what would make his investment profitable.

Neighborhood residents prefer single-family homes be built at the site.

Thursday’s meeting was only to consider the proposed rezoning. Scanlon would not develop a specific townhouse plan until after he would win City Council’s approval to rezone the area. That could not occur until at least January.

If the rezoning would be approved, Scanlon could not start construction until after obtaining planning commission approval of a site plan. The plan would have to specify the townhouses’s size and height, storm drainage, parking, landscaping, driveway locations and other details.

To reassure residents, Matt Cordonnier, Hancock Regional Planning Commission director, said city planning commission has a “decent amount” of discretion to dictate the size, height or other details regarding any development.

Scanlon told residents and planning commission members he wants the townhouses to fit in with the neighborhood. He said he is looking for ways to make them good neighbors.

The best solution may be to find compromise regarding the townhouses’ height or number of residents, Mihalik said.

That seemed to be a consensus among city planning officials.

“I think the worst case scenario for the city and the neighborhood is for this to be undeveloped for the next 20 years,” Cordonnier said. “So I am excited that someone is looking to redevelop it. I think that will be beneficial ultimately to the neighborhood and to the city.”

“My next question is how do we do that without negatively impacting those who live in the area while still maintaining a viable project? That’s kind of the balance rope that we have to walk,” Cordonnier said.

A third story on the townhouses would be a point of contention because there are no other three-story buildings in the neighborhood, he said.

“That’s a balancing act because the third story helps make this site economically viable for (Scanlon),” Cordonnier said.

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