Changes in site plan of proposed housing complex in Oregon

Kelly J. Kaczala

        A request for a Special Use Exception (SUE) for a proposed housing complex that was to go before City Council for review on March 23 has been canceled until further notice.
        The Oregon Planning Commission had a hearing on Jan. 21 on the matter. It was then extended to Feb. 18 for further discussion due to concerns from nearby property owners.
        The SUE is for the proposed construction of a 217 unit multi-family housing complex at 4050 Navarre Avenue and 900 S. Lallendorf Road.
        The applicant for the SUE is Harry Glitz for owner Val V LLC.
        The property would require an SUE because it is currently zoned C-5, which requires a 20-foot backyard setback. 
        City Administrator Mike Beazley said at the Feb. 18 hearing that a developer had proposed commercial use on the property years ago.
        “There was some pushback on it. We had recommended to the developer we thought that a residential multi-family buffer would be a less intense use with less traffic and a good buffer between the commercial corridor and the residential single family home areas. That is what is being proposed. To achieve this, they need a Special Use permit because this is a commercial area and not residential. Just so people know what can go there now without request, there could be a full commercial development on the site - from a four-story hotel to just about any type of retail operation without any permission from us or the Planning Commission. We in the city would like them to use Special Use permits because it gives us an opportunity to put some conditions in. If they just went in with a commercial development, they wouldn’t need anything from us. We thought we could help ensure a better development for the community that would work better. The developer was interested in doing that.”
        Whenever there is a vacant field behind a property, people like it to stay that way, noted Beazley.
        “I would be here with the same questions if I lived in that area,” he said.
        “In this case, the way you put in multi-family housing in a C-5 zoning district is with a special use permit. We saw that as a less intense use with less traffic. By doing it this way, we could ask them for a 50-foot setback rather than the 20-foot setback, which is all that is required by the code,” said Beazley.
        After listening to the concerns of nearby property owners at the first hearing in January, the project was changed to include additional mounding, landscaping and a full 50-foot setback from the property line, said Beazley.
        “It is 30 feet more than the code requires,” he said. “We just want to make it clear from our general perspective of what is going on with apartments in the market. Most people age 65 and older were buying their first homes when they were aged 22-27. All the data tells us that new residents in Oregon are buying first their homes at 34-36 years of age. Right now, we have people who want to live in Oregon that will work in our hospitals, work in our refineries, and in our community. We don’t have sufficient quality rentals to meet that need. All of our neighboring communities – Sylvania, Maumee, Perrysburg, Monclova, Waterville - are building new residential units like this.”
        He said the proposed housing complex is “quality high-end.”
        “There will be nine foot ceilings, with marble and granite counter tops. It will be a quality product that will bring value to the community,” said Beazley.
Site plan
        Dallas Paul, of the NAI Harmon Group, Toledo, represented the applicant at the hearings.
        He noted the changes that were made to the site plan since the January meeting to address some of the concerns of nearby property owners.
        The site plan shows 14 buildings with 18 units per building for a total of 252 units in the first phase of the project. The required side yard setback along Lallendorf is 100 feet from the center line of Lallendorf to the building wall. He said the building in the site plan has been moved accordingly.
        There have also been sidewalks added along Lallendorf. The buffer that Beazley eluded to had been added along the south side of the development as well as the west side of the property, he said. The buffer will consist of six-foot plantings on three-foot mounds. At maturity, they will reach the third floor, or 21 feet high. The plantings are cedar trees that grow fast and will fill in very quickly.
        One of the questions asked at the January hearing was whether the garage could be moved to the south and the buildings moved forward. Paul said it was determined that it disturbed the site plan significantly and was not feasible. So, they went back to the original plan.
        Other issues that were addressed include a high pressure gas line that runs down the center of the site. There are no buildings on top of the gas line. It is paved or in green space, he said.
        Paul, who called the project a “premier high-end development with apartments that will have market rate rents,” said there would be no Section 8 provided in the development.
         Parking will be at the front of each building. The buildings will all have balconies.
        Paul said the master plan for the 27-acre site shows that commercial will be connected by either walkways or driveways depending on how the plan ultimately takes place, but there would be connectivity between the commercial and the residential.
        There is currently one entrance /exit on the site plan. The developer’s next proposal will show another entrance.
        Garages will not be included in the rent, and would cost extra.
        Paul said they are looking to purchase the next phase in the third quarter of this year and move the commercial development forward with a sit-down restaurant and some service retail. He believes the first phase of the apartments will fill up quickly according to a market study that was completed. If it does, they will proceed with the second phase right after that, probably within a year.
        Beazley said the Project Review Committee felt positive that the project would be a better buffer for the community between commercial and residential. “Our concern about it was the setback issues and landscape buffering. We felt that this fits the space and meets the demand that we have right now in Oregon.”
Public comment
        There was still considerable opposition to the development from some nearby property owners at the Feb. 18 hearing, though there was some support as well.
        Cathy Reichow, of Navarre Avenue, said she was in favor of the project. Reichow, a small business owner in Oregon, said the city needs to attract more people.
        “We do need more people living in Oregon,” she said. “Our demographics are terrible. We’ll never get major chains to come in and build here or locate here until we get more people that actually live here.”
        Arlene Stobinski, of Townhouse Drive, said she had no problems with the development. “It’s wonderful and looks great,” she said. She was pleased about the sidewalks that will be installed. She still had some concerns about the traffic pattern that could be a problem down the road.
        “This property is currently zoned C-5, which is a completely commercial parcel,” said Seferian. “So, it would permit this whole parcel being developed as a retail outlet and they wouldn’t have to come to this body for permission to build. They could just get their building permits and build. This would generate more traffic than these 252 units. So this would have less of a traffic impact than what could go there with the current zoning.”
        Mickey Felaris, Starr Avenue, expressed concerns about property values, buffers, traffic patterns and the dust, dirt and noise during construction.
        The only other alternative, said Seferian, is “to never develop it.”
        “We do have standards. If they make a mess in the road, we make them clean that up or they’re cited and we clean it up and charge them.”
        If the development does not go forward, he added, then a large commercial development could go in. “Its impact would be greater traffic wise, and it would be a harsher fit for the neighborhoods.”         
        Donna Hall, of S. Norden Road, said the apartments could become run down over time and attract transients.
        She said the city has solid schools, good demographics of working people and low crime. She expressed concerns about apartments going through frequent changes in ownership, which could bring in transient people.
        “The management goes down, and they are leasing to anybody that can sign on the dotted line. High end apartments deteriorate, which can lead to increased crime, drugs and prostitution,” she said.
        Beazley said the city will continue to have the oldest, the most dilapidated apartments in the suburbs unless new ones are built.
        “This land has been for sale for many years for someone to put in a subdivision. No one has chosen to do it. This is a new development,” said Beazley. “Communities that don’t build new apartments are just destined to have the oldest apartments in the region. That’s what we face now.”


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