By SHELLEY TERRY - email@example.com
After a passionate hour of debate at a public hearing Monday night, City Council unanimously voted against approving zoning changes at 1936 Carpenter Road.
The decision turned down four proposed apartment complexes, each containing eight apartments at the corner of Carpenter Road and Norman Avenue.
City Manager Jim Timonere said he also was against it.
“We need residential housing,” he said. “We have enough rental property in the city.”
Ashtabula businessman Jim Carkhuff owns the property. He was out of town Monday, but the contractor, Dexter Au of Puffer Roofing in Conneaut, attended the hearing, as did the project’s designer, David Payne of Plymouth Township.
Timonere said he was disappointed Carkhuff missed the meeting. He wanted to talk directly to him.
About a dozen residents attended the public hearing and spoke out against the proposal.
Donna Armstrong, who lives in the neighborhood where the apartments would be built, said homeowners tend to take better care of their property.
“Apartments don’t benefit us,” she said.
City Council Vice President Chris McClure read outloud a letter from Ashtabula resident Janine Trebuchon-Wertz, who said Carkhuff shows little regard for his tenants. The letter said Carkhuff doesn’t fix needed repairs in the apartments he now owns.
Neighbor Sandy Ring said more people in the neighborhood will make their property value go down.
“We need more residential housing, not more rentals,” she said, noting renters don’t vote for school levies and Ashtabula now has new schools to support.
Teacher Lisa Richmond said 32 units concern her.
“Renters don’t get out and vote (for school levies),” she said. “We need votes. We don’t need 32 more units in our neighborhood.”
Payne said he’s lived in this town all his life and he’s trying to do a nice job.
“Any time you can build new, you are better off,” he said. “Screening — trees, fence — can be put up.”
He blamed legislators not renters for the state’s school funding problems.
Au said it’s a city issue.
“We could put up 12 duplexes, but we want to put apartments,” he said, noting Carkhuff owns 100 properties in the city and Monday’s complaints come from a very small faction.