West River development eyed in Kent

By Diane Smith Record-Courier staff writer Published:

Kent City Council's land use committee will meet next Wednesday to discuss a recent proposal for an option to purchase one of the properties owned in the neighborhood. Interim City Manager received the proposal shortly before Wednesday's council meeting.

Lillich said he had not yet reviewed the proposal or talked to the potential developer, and did not yet know what parcel could be purchased or what its future use could be.

However, he said a special full council meeting could also be needed Wednesday because of the urgency of the request.

"There are some time constraints we may have to respond to," he said.

If the redevelopment goes through, it would be the first time any of the land purchased under the city's landbanking program is developed.

Landbanking is a redevelopment tool which allows the Downtown Kent Corporation, a nonprofit redevelopment corporation, to buy land by drawing on a city-backed line of credit. Eventually, the goal has been to tie the properties together, making them more attractive to a developer to purchase.

Over the past 3 1/2 years, the city has purchased several parcels in the West River Neighborhood. The most recent purchase came in July, when a house at 311 North Mantua Street was purchased.

In other business, Council approved action Lillich requested to oppose Akron's request to divert water from Portage County's Lake Rockwell to serve townships in Summit County.

Akron wants to provide water to Springfield, Coventry and Copley townships using water in Lake Rockwell in Franklin Township and Streetsboro. Because the townships are in the Ohio River watershed instead of the Lake Erie watershed, where Lake Rockwell is located, Akron needs the approval of the governors of the Great Lakes States, and approval is pending with the governors of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Local residents have expressed concern that the middle Cuyahoga, which is downstream of Lake Rockwell, could suffer because of diminished flow in the river.

Lillich said he had been meeting with city officials in other towns along the middle Cuyahoga, and the group agreed officials need to do more to oppose the plan.

Council agreed to draft a new letter making their opposition clear, and send it to the governors of the states where governors have yet to make a decision. Mayor Jerry Fiala also agreed to draft a letter asking for a meeting with Ohio Gov. George Voinovich, who previously gave his approval. The letter will be placed in a packet with similar letters from mayors of other cities along the river.

In other action, council:

Approved a zoning change for the city's former central maintenance building on Mogadore Road from open space recreation to industrial. The zoning change was necessary so George Sacco, who has signed a lease with the city, can operate his ceramics school in the building.

Sacco has estimated his school could open by the end of this year.

Agreed to sell a 3.4-acre parcel to Albert O. Klaben Sr. for $175,000. The property, behind the Klaben Ford dealership, would be used for parking at the dealership if a zoning change is approved.

The sale was on council's Oct. 1 agenda, but there was not enough

support on council to approve the sale on an emergency basis. Councilman

Robert Felton, who said he voted against suspending council's three

reading rule on Oct. 1 to allow time for public comment, said he would

change his vote because there had been no comments.

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