STOW: A $5 million proposal by auto dealer Ron Marhofer that includes rezoning three properties from residential to commercial had its first of three readings at a City Council meeting on Thursday.
The Planning Committee moved the item forward during its meeting held before City Council’s after the issue was tabled Monday.
Marhofer wants to expand his dealership at the corner of Darrow and Kent roads. The renovation would require razing three homes that are located on property currently zoned for single-family residences. The lots total approximately 1.3 acres.
The dealership’s expansion plan, which includes changes to the landscape, has been a long-standing issue between Marhofer, city officials and nearby residents.
Carol Tymchenko, a Thorndale Avenue resident, is in strong opposition of Marhofer's proposal and addressed her concerns regarding his request Thursday evening.
"Thorndale Avenue is a quiet neighborhood with many children that live and play here," Tymchenko said. "Our homes and trees are nearly a century old … making it one of the oldest neighborhoods in Stow. We believe this part of Stow's history is worth preserving.
"Please help us. The future of our neighborhood is in your hands. Please try to put yourselves in our position and do what you would hope your city would do to protect you and your family, the value of your home and your quality of life.”
John Slagter of the law firm Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs was present at the meeting Sept. 10 and Monday to represent Marhofer.
Slagter explained that Marhofer was requesting this proposal because auto manufacturers categorized his business as a regional dealership. Slagter added that Marhofer’s location was 20 spaces short, barely meeting the minimum standards.
"If the rezoning of these three properties is approved, what happens when another expansion is needed ... which may be sooner than later as he is going into it being  parking spaces short of GM's recommendations?” Tymchenko asked.
However, Slagter suggested the proposal was not about expanding the business, but investing more to improve it for his customers.
"That $5 million investment did not add one single extra parking space,” Slagter said. “It was not as if Mr. Marhofer was trying to add another 100 or so spaces and more cars. It actually provided the same utilization.
"He was making a $5 million improvement. Why? For his customers, for his business and otherwise. It was going to be good for the community and they believed good for the neighborhood."
Council is expected to address this item again at its next meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 10.