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Housing concerns still on table

SALEM — Plans now call for state Route 344 to serve as the main access for proposed apartments off Fairview Avenue, prompting objections from Perry Township neighbors who still have concerns about drainage from the development.

One of the neighbors, Wendy Kozar, asked whether a privacy fence or natural border talked about previously would be put in place since a lot of the trees on the property were cut down recently.

“Every pine tree is down. All I see is the construction,” she said. “Where’s the natural border? Is there going to be one or am I going to look at the back of these,” she said about the apartments, adding “I don’t feel like I live in the country anymore.”

All the comments came during a Salem Planning Commission meeting via Zoom Monday regarding the preliminary plat for the project. The plat called the triplexes the Villas at Franklin, but engineer Joe Gonda of Buckeye Civil Design said the name will likely be the Villas at Fairview.

The commission listened to all the questions and comments from the neighbors and approved the preliminary plat, with the understanding that the developer must address questions and requirements Mayor John Berlin said were pointed out by the engineer for the city, Jon Vollnogle of Howells &Baird, to secure final plat approval.

Another requirement will be incorporating plans for screening the property from neighbors. Berlin had asked if the city ordinance required screening.City Zoning Officer Chip Hank noted that it’s required by ordinance.

According to ordinance 1198.07, “For three (3) or more unit multiple family, commercial and industrial uses abutting a residential district, landscaping or screening is required. Such screening shall consist of: (a) A masonry wall or solid fence of not less than eight (8) feet in height, maintained in good condition and free of all advertising and other signs to be located seven (7) feet from the abutting property line or (b) Landscaping provided in lieu of such wall or fence shall consist of land not less than fifteen (15) feet in width planted with evergreen hedges or trees which shall be not less than eight (8) feet in height or, (c) A natural tree line of not less than eight (8) feet in height located on land not less than fifteen (15) feet in width or, (d) Birms may be used in lieu of a wall, fence, or natural tree line and shall consist of land not less than twenty (20) feet in width with a combination of elevated land planted with evergreen hedges or trees which shall be not less than eight (8) feet in height. (e) No structure shall be permitted within a required buffer area.”

Once the final plat is ready, the commission will schedule another meeting to either grant or not grant approval.

“We’re trying to do the best we can, to be good neighbors and allow for the development,” Commission Chairman John Panezott said.

He also commented that he knew everybody wasn’t going to be happy, but said later the commission would do its best to try to keep everyone happy, including asking Gonda to work with the owners of one property on their drainage concerns.

Tricia and Tyler Jackson, whose property is located to the west of where the detention pond is planned, near the entrance, said from the sounds of it, the drainage from the detention pond will end up on their property. She also challenged Gonda saying that the property owners and the city favored the entrance off of state Route 344.

“I don’t know what neighbors wanted 344 because I don’t,” she said, followed by a chorus of “I don’t”s from neighbors in attendance who said there’s too much traffic there now.

At the last meeting, Berlin had questioned whether Gonda and the developer, Kevin Price, had tried to challenge the Ohio Department of Transportation on the denial for having the entrance off of state Route 344. Previously, it was just supposed to be an access road for construction, with the main entrance off of Fairview, but the mayor had concerns about dumping all the traffic onto Fairview when Route 344 was right there. Gonda said they reapproached ODOT recently and got the go-ahead for using Route 344.

Tonia Gerber, who lives across the road from the development, also asked about the detention pond and whether that will affect the creek on her property. Gonda said the detention pond will catch all the rain water from the downspouts in the development and won’t divert water away from her but make the runoff more consistent instead of a bunch all at once.

He said the runoff from the pond will go to an existing pipe located on the Jackson property. The Jacksons complained about the drainage now and the condition of the pipe, with Gonda saying they tried to get an easement from them to replace the pipe, but they refused. He said the Jacksons should see less ponding on their property as a result of the detention pond.

Panezott asked him to work with the Jacksons on the drainage issue.

Several other neighbors asked questions and made statements regarding the project pertaining to the drainage, the natural barrier and the entrance. Tina Secrest, who lives to the south of the project, said the cutting down of the pine trees looks terrible and now she can see houses she’s never seen before. She commented “they’re saying one thing and doing another and I don’t like that.”

Utilities Superintendent Don Weingart assured the residents they won’t be forced to get city sewer service. Plans call for the sewer line to be extended along Franklin to the entrance and then into the development.

During a previous meeting, Price said there will be 14 buildings consisting of three units each, all two-bedroom, two-bath homes with a two-car garage and room for two more vehicles in the driveway. When asked about the natural barrier, Price said that won’t be done until the buildings are constructed.

Berlin commented that he knows there are a lot of concerns about drainage, but the city’s engineer will make sure it’s done properly. He said he hopes the property owners and developer can work together.

mgreier@salemnews.net

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