Objections don’t stop rezoning
by DAVID DAVIS, Managing Editor
Oct 23, 2012 | 2507 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dustin Hawkins presents his case Monday to the Cleveland City Council for rezoning property at 250 Ramsey St. N.E. The Council later approved the request on the first reading. The Council must vote again on the zoning change at its next meeting. Banner photo, DAVID DAVIS
Dustin Hawkins presents his case Monday to the Cleveland City Council for rezoning property at 250 Ramsey St. N.E. The Council later approved the request on the first reading. The Council must vote again on the zoning change at its next meeting. Banner photo, DAVID DAVIS
By “I hate to use this word, but I feel like our neighborhood has literally been raped,” Jeanne Goins said to the Cleveland City Council as she summed up her feelings about the changing neighborhood near 250 Ramsey St. where she has lived for 38 years.

Goins expressed her sentiments Monday afternoon during a public hearing at which she spoke in opposition to a zoning change request from Single-family Residential (R-1) to Multifamily Residential (R-3) by Dustin Hawkins of D&S Custom Homes. Hawkins requested the zoning change to allow him to build 14 townhomes.

“Every time there is a vacant lot or a house gets torn down, everybody wants to come in and put up apartments and I didn’t buy my house to live around 335 apartments,” Goins said.

Some 107 residents who live near 250 Ramsey St. N.E., signed a petition opposing rezoning the property.

The request passed the Cleveland Municipal Planning Commission by a 5-4 margin at its Sept. 25 meeting over the objections of neighbors.

Council members later voted 4-2-1 to approve the request on the first reading. Councilman Dale Hughes made the motion, and it was seconded by Councilman Richard Banks. Councilmen Bill Estes, Vice Mayor Avery Johnson, Hughes and Banks voted in favor of the request. Councilmen George Poe and David May voted no. Charlie McKenzie passed because of family ties to one of the residents opposed to the request. The Council will vote a second time on the ordinance at the Nov. 12 meeting.

During the discussion, Johnson said there is no reason the City Council cannot look at the neighborhood situation and do something about the streets.

“Out of all the issues that have come up about this development, I have a hard time turning these people (Hawkins) down because the rest of the area is already zoned R-3,” he said. “We’ve got to try to be fair to both sides. We need to really take a serious look at whatever we can do in this area.”

Hughes said the development is not rental property, but property for purchase.

“To have a purchase situation on that property versus five homes for rental, I just think this is a much better option. I think what’s really hurting this situation is Northcrest and what has happened there, but I don’t think you can compare this to Northcrest,” Hughes said. “I just cannot compare this to Northcrest. This is several cuts above.”

Hawkins said during the public hearing that seven of the luxury townhomes would face Sharon Drive N.E. and seven would face Ramsey Street. The 1,350-square-foot units would have amenities such as granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and hardwood flooring inside and a Craftsman-style look on the outside similar to Spring Creek. Each unit would have an individual driveway with parking for three cars. The townhomes would be priced at about $130,000 each. The target demographics are young professionals who are single, newlyweds or young families.

“Each unit will have individual driveways to allow for three cars per unit and that is so each one looks like someone’s home versus just a sea of concrete. These will have deed restrictions attached. Currently these are no deed restrictions on the property at all. We do plan to add in the deed restrictions [that] they cannot park in the streets,” he said.

Hawkins said the townhomes are owner occupied and not intended as rental properties. A common wall connecting the units together is the only difference between the townhomes and single-family homes. He plans to retain as many mature trees as possible and build a buffer comparable to the privacy fence and landscaping at Garden Plaza along Henderson Avenue.

Attorney George McCoin, who spoke on behalf of Hawkins, said the intent is to build single-family homes in a neighborhood where they already exist.

“Mr. Hawkins does not want to change the character of the neighborhood, but to bring the character of the neighborhood forward from being all detached single-family homes to attached single-family homes,” he said. “These are not apartments. If they were apartments, they would be built to much lower standards and the land would not be included with them. These are truly single-family homes.”

He said the type of home Hawkins builds is market driven and neighbors can be assured the development will be luxury townhomes.

“This is what he builds. This is what he knows how to build. If he goes out and builds something else, he has to learn how and it’s not as efficient,” McCoin said. “Secondly, this is what the market is open for at this time.”

He said if the neighbors want a guarantee, “There is a guarantee this property will be developed. It’s vacant land now. There is no question that no special permits, no variances are required to build five single-family homes.” Those five homes would be small and built to minimum standards as rental property. “That’s the guarantee. The choice isn’t between apartments and single family. It’s between single families that are attached or small, unattached, high-density homes.”

Council members also approved a zoning request change by Mitchell and Sherra Kinder for property at 5761 Mouse Creek Road N.W. from R-1 to R-3.