June 28, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Dozens attend CVS hearing

WADSWORTH — Nearly 100 people attended a public zoning hearing that would allow CVS to build a store at the corner of Akron Road and North Lyman Street.

The Gazette received an e-mail earlier in the day saying residents would be protesting from 5:30 to 7 p.m. near City Hall, but not a single protester could be found.

At the hearing before a City Council meeting Tuesday night, representatives from Zaremba Group, the developer that filed the zoning request on behalf of CVS, and residents against the store presented their opinions on the zoning change to Council members.

The purpose of this ordinance is to rezone several properties from a residential classification to neighborhood commercial zoning, Planning Director Jeff Kaiser said.

“The issue before us is not CVS, the issue before us is zoning,” he said.

Recently, the Planning Commission recommended changing a 0.9-acre residential area at Akron Road and North Lyman Street to commercial zoning. The zoning ordinance before Council would combine the area with a 0.7-acre site already zoned for commercial use that houses a small plaza.

Kaiser said allowing for easements and other regulations, a developer currently would only be able to build a 3,000-square-foot store on the property. Should the zoning ordinance pass, a developer would be able to build a 14,000-square-foot store, he said.
CVS plans to build a 13,000-square-foot store with a drive-through pharmacy window.

“This zoning amendment is really a boundary adjustment that would make the area big enough to handle modern development,” Kaiser said.

However, residents said they were concerned about traffic, noise, bright lights and loss of privacy should a CVS be built at Akron Road.

An unofficial petition circulated by North Lyman Street resident Matt Salzwimmer contained 386 signatures of people protesting the CVS.

“This is the best place to live in Northeast Ohio … and you want to bring in a corporation that already exists in town,” Salzwimmer said. “We need another drug store like we need another pizza joint.”

CVS would close its store at 204 High St. and move to Akron Road if the ordinance passes.

Some residents said they were against moving the store because it would create another vacant storefront in the city.

Charles Ritley, a real estate appraiser based in Cleveland, said the new store would improve the city’s tax base because current zoning inhibits commercial growth.

“It would raise tax values because it will be a clean, up-to-date property, and add to the tax base because there is one company singularly managing the property,” he said.

However, residents like Doug Curfman, of Crestwood Avenue, who spoke at the hearing, disagreed.

“If we move the existing CVS to a new location, how does it increase the tax base?” he said.

Ritley said many of the current commercial properties on the site are nonconforming to city zoning code because they do not have a buffer between parking and the roadway.
Should a CVS be built, a landscape buffer between the store and the road and nearby residences would be built, Ritley said.

“If anything, what we have there now is a detriment,” Ritley said. “And certainly traffic in this area is not desirable.”

Kaiser said a traffic impact study would be required to build on the site. He added the construction of access driveways could actually improve traffic flow in the area.

“We have people from Cleveland down here to tell us what we want in our neighborhood. We don’t want (the store),” said Peggy Pogan, owner of Peggy’s Pooch Parlor in the existing plaza on Akron Road.

Salzwimmer said he also worries that CVS will buy the property, construct a building and then “sell it to the highest bidder,” fearing an adult or liquor store could be in his backyard.

Council President Tom Palecek said the ordinance could be voted on at Council’s Dec. 15 meeting, but there is no timetable for a vote.

Contact Lisa Hlavinka at (330) 721-4048 or lhlavinka@ohio.net.