SHEFFIELD VILLAGE

An application to rezone residential property at 2180 Lake Breeze Road for commercial purposes drew large numbers of neighbors vehemently opposed to the application when Sheffield Village's Planning Commission met Oct. 21.

Iron City Recovery and Tow Inc. owner Jorge Rodriguez, who also owns the Lake Breeze property, stated on the application he intended to use the land for “auto repossession and police impound.” It is the site of the former Barr Elementary School and the old school building still sits on the property. Single-family homes are nearby.

At its meeting five days later, village council agreed to set a public hearing on the matter. Nearly 90 minutes later when audience members were given time to speak, Rodriguez told the group he would not move his company to the site and would look for another way to use the property.

He confirmed to West Life the next day he no longer planned to move Iron City to the Lake Breeze location.“I will put it in writing,” he said, acknowledging his decision was influenced by the strong opposition to his plan. However, he is not withdrawing the application. He said he still felt that the site would need to be rezoned for other projects he may develop.

The rezoning application barely made it out of planning. Commission members split 2-2 on moving it on to council. Mayor John Hunter, the fifth commission member, broke the tie in favor of moving the application to the next stage of approval.

When council met Oct. 26, four members voted to accept the Planning Commission's recommendation in order to schedule a public hearing on the request. Only Councilmember Joe Koster voted against the measure. Kevin Watkinson, who sits on Planning Commission and voted in favor of advancing the rezoning request, was not at council's Oct. 26 meeting. Law Director David Graves said the council action did not mean council approved the rezoning. It affords community members an opportunity to express their opinions about it and for council to become familiar with the plans and community sentiment.

Due to the way council agendas are laid out, council voted on the motion to accept the Planning Commission's recommendation and set a public hearing early in the meeting. Public comment is the last item on the agenda and last week's meeting ran long. More than an hour and 15 minutes passed between the time council acted and Rodgriguez was allowed to announce that his plans had changed.

He is uncertain how the property could be used and was considering his options. He floated the idea that he had been approached by “a section 8 developer” about selling the parcel. Section 8 is one of the federal government's major programs for helping low-income families obtain housing. Previously he mentioned an interest in seeing a daycare center at the location.

As of Oct. 27, he was not planning to withdraw his application, which means the public hearing will likely take place at 7 p.m. Dec. 7 in Sheffield Village council chambers, 4340 Colorado Ave. Hunter said he would arrange to also hold the session via Zoom and added that residents will be able to comment whether they attend in person or via Zoom.

Contact freelance writer Michele Murphy at avonlakemurphy@gmail.com.

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