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'Upscale retail center' faces local opposition
More than fifty neighbors met at the Routsong Funeral Home on Oakwood Avenue on Thursday, April 10 to hear Tom Routsong, president and owner of Routsong Funeral Homes, present an informal proposal for the construction of an “upscale retail center,” which includes a possible drive-through business, at the corner of Oakwood and Irving Avenues. The project would necessitate the razing of the funeral home plus two residences adjacent to the funeral home – one on Oakwood Avenue, the other on Irving.
A letter to some of the area residents from Routsong stated the purpose of the meeting - to get feedback from the residents before a preliminary proposal is formally presented to the Oakwood Planning Commission. According to the letter, Routsong has been working on these plans with an architect and an engineer “ for some time” and has approached the city about his request.
The plans presented at the meeting calls for the razing of two residential properties, both owned by Routsong. On Oakwood Avenue, the house just south of the funeral home would be razed, extending the south end of the commercial site to one house away from the corner of Volusia and Oakwood Avenues. On the Irving Avenue side, the house now located next to the parking lot would be torn down and replaced with space for a potential drive-through business. The property would border a residence now owned by a family with five children.
Most of the neighboring residents present at the meeting objected to the plan. Some feel it would have a negative impact on property values; it would be less safe for children who live in the neighborhood; a strip shopping center does not provide a “beautiful gateway into the city,” a benefit stated by Routsong, in that it is architecturally disruptive to the tone of the neighborhood according to some neighbors attending the meeting.
Lance and Patty Roll, who live on Volusia, and whose property would border the south end of the commercial expansion, questioned the viability and appropriateness of a strip shopping plaza. However, Routsong believes there is a need for upscale retail space. Lance Roll also questioned whether or not the current infrastructure could maintain and serve the impact of additional business. “This area is the lowest point in Oakwood and already has some problem with drainage that requires ongoing special attention by the Oakwood service department,” he said.
Gregg and Charlene Monett live on Irving Avenue. “A retail center would diminish our quality of life,” he said. “We have more traffic than we can handle now. Just recently two cars were crashed into. The development would add traffic coming up and down the alley,” he said “a safety factor that needs to be addressed, considering the large number of children in the area.” He is also worried about a higher incidence of crime that a strip mall business might attract.
Residents suggested other uses for the property that would include only the funeral home and its parking lots. Mentioned were a small boutique hotel built in a compatible architectural style, a small professional building, a bed and breakfast, all of which could be built without the need for tearing down two more Oakwood houses.
Routsong’s next step involves presentation of a formal plan to the city. It then goes before the Zoning Board to determine whether or not the board agrees to rezone the targeted homes from residential to business use. Ultimately the plan will be presented to the Oakwood City Council. According to Deputy City Manager Jay Weiskircher, the city council turned down an application to raze a residential home to make a supplemental parking lot last year on the south western side of Far Hills Avenue when the LCNB Bank was to be built.
OPC OK's Sugar Camp plan
The Oakwood Planning Commission met on Wednesday, April 9 at the Oakwood Community Center with representatives of the Oakwood Investment Group, LLC and the Versant Corporation to consider amending the residential master plan passed a year ago in April for the Sugar Camp Development.
The amendments requested were as follows:
24 units are proposed to be added to the number of single family homes, going from 33 units to 59 units; Changing the mid-rise condominium buildings from 4 four-stories of 32 units to 2 seven story buildings increasing the condo units from 32 to 47; 4 six-unit town homes would be erected for a total of 24 units of that style of housing.
One of the most strident objections raised concerned the possible impact on the schools and how likely would Harman Elementary and Oakwood High School be able to absorb an influx of students who may move to the Sugarcamp development and become enrolled at either school.
After almost two hours of input, feedback, objections and debate between commission members, Sugar Camp representatives and local citizens, the OPC tentatively passed the amendment request with the stipulation that the requests be “subject to a meeting between the developer, staff, Mr. (Steve) Byington (as a member of the Planning Commission and Council), School Superintendent and Harman School Principal to assess any potential impact the added density might have on the schools and to report those findings to the council. The motion passed unanimously.
The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 7, 2008.k
School administrators pass ASCD test
School district administrators were recognized at last night’s Oakwood Board of Education meeting for a multi-media presentation they gave on classroom differentiation at an international conference last month.
The annual conference was for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) at which the Oakwood team “made a fabulous presentation,” commented Superintendent Dr. Mary Jo Scalzo. Members of the team included Kim Kappler (curriculum director/Lange Elementary principal), Gretchen Loper (Harman Elementary principal), Nance Bradds (Smith Elementary principal), Dan Weckstein (junior high principal) and Joseph Boyle (high school principal).
Their focus was on how they work together to make differentiation a part of every classroom in the district.
“It (the conference) really brought together all the things we’ve been doing as a team over the last 10 years. We felt very fortunate to present,” said Loper. Added Weckstein, “It was about how we as building leaders encourage our teaching staff.”
The team shared with school board members a video clip they showed at the conference highlighting how they work together as a PLC (professional learning community). The clip narrated main elements of their work such as classroom walk-thrus, artifacts and book discussion.
“Excellent narrating,” commented board member Debra Hershey.
Board member Beth Merritt asked the team how they let teachers know the walk-throughs are positive and not conceived as checking up on them. The administrative team said they do not go into the classrooms as a group, and that they try to give teachers advance notice of their visit.
PLC involvement has grown significantly each year. Two-thirds of Oakwood school staff is now involved in a PLC, according to administrators.
Among commendations at the meeting, the school board also recognized:
In legislation, the school board:
Oakwood Board of Education will hold its next regular meeting May 12, 7:30 p.m. at the central office.
April 15, 2008
Volume 17, No. 16
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