STOW: It was a packed house at Stow City Council on Thursday night as two hotly debated issues were up for a vote.
Council opted to grant auto dealer Ron Marhofer’s request for a text amendment in the city's zoning code which would allow him to expand his operations onto residential land adjacent to his dealership and rejected a proposed crematorium.
The vote to permit auto sales and rental in districts zoned as community retail (C-3) or general business (C-4) came after a flurry of amendments on the issues.
Marhofer plans to demolish some homes on Thorndale Avenue to expand his business at Darrow and Kent roads.
John Slagter, an attorney representing Marhofer, said the business needed the council’s approval to be able to expand and serve its customers.
Some of the residents in attendance at the meeting expressed concerns about the dealership’s expansion into the adjacent neighborhood.
Others worried what would happen to their properties should the dealership close one day.
“This one would be immediately beside my family with the consequences, including real decreased property values, risk of crime, loitering and all other issues that came with a vacant property,” said Thorndale resident Steve Mazziotta earlier this week.
Thorndale Avenue residents collected more than 90 signatures opposing the expansion. Some residents have already said they plan on collecting the 1,800 signatures needed to place the issue on the November ballot.
The council also voted to deny a request by Keith Redmon, owner of Redmon Funeral Home, to install equipment for cremations.
Redmon did not address the council at the meeting.
When the council voted 4 to 3 to defeat the measure, residents in the audience applauded.
Debate over the proposal, opposed by a number of residents, has been ongoing for months.
Stow resident Sue Young said she and her husband, Charles, have lived in Stow for 25 years and opposed Redmon’s request.
“It’s about your constituents,” she said this week urging council to vote no. “It’s about the people of your community.”
Charles Young said he was frustrated by how long it took the council to vote on the issue.
“If you think your job is to let mercury fall on the citizens of this city then you are not protecting us, so we will have to protect ourselves,” he said.
Councilwoman Mary Bendar said it was a difficult, “heart-wrenching” vote.
Bendar said she and others on the council struggled balancing the needs of a good corporate citizen with the desires of the residents who live by the business.