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Neighbors object to rezoning proposal in New Phila

| March 6, 2024

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (March 6, 2024) – A proposed zoning change involving city-owned land that was once part of the Ohio & Erie Canal has been drawing opposition from neighbors. 

Council is considering rezoning three parcels off of Commercial and Canal avenues from residential to business. The long, narrow tract that runs behind about a dozen properties including Martinelli Pools & Spas. Owner Jill White and a representative from South Philly Pizza shared their concerns during last Monday’s public hearing on the proposal (saying they relied on that land for parking and deliveries).

“What am I supposed to do with my semi-trucks that come in two to three days a week?” White asked. “Am I supposed to tie up Commercial – which is a one-lane – for 45 minutes to unload our trucks?”

“If that sells, we have nowhere to park for employees,” said Anthony Walker, whose wife owns the pizza shop. “On a busy night, there could be seven employees and five parking places for customers.”

White suggested splitting the property into smaller parcels before auctioning it off to the highest bidder.

“It’s a lot cheaper to bid on and buy a piece of parcel that’s only in conjunction with my store versus buying the parcel behind South Philly Pizza, which I’m sure is the same problem for the homeowners that are sitting here saying, ‘you’ve got us all grouped together.’ So what do we do?”

Service Director Ron McAbier tried to alleviate everyone’s concerns.

“This is to rezone it, not to sell it.”

Councilman Mitch Pace was unsure about allowing businesses to go in directly behind the homes along that stretch. 

“Do we create an issue that no business is going to go in there, I wouldn’t think – this is just me speaking out loud – if we zone that business behind three residential houses.”

Council has yet to vote on the proposal, which will be up for another reading and a possible vote during next Monday’s meeting.

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