Controversial Oberlin Rezoning Moved to Full Council

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A rezoning application for a property on Oberlin Road has been kicked out of committee for review by the full City Council.

Members of the Comprehensive Planning Committee this week sent the application back to City Councilors for a full vote, despite neighborhood opposition.

The half-acre property on Oberlin Road and Van Dyke Avenue is being rezoned in order to create more of an urban feel for the property than what is allowed under the current zoning. The possible density of the property will not change.

The main issue with the rezoning stems from driveway access.

Neighbors on Van Dyke Avenue who have spoken before Council members recently are adamant that driveway access onto Van Dyke be prohibited for any future project.

The problem is that according to city code, the city isn’t allowed to prohibit driveway access. Because the property is on a corner, legally, the developer can put a driveway on Van Dyke Avenue within 300 feet from Oberlin Road.

“The neighbors have to accept the possibility that it could happen,” said Deputy City Attorney Ira Botvinick.

The location of the driveway will come during the site plan stage, during which city staff will work with traffic engineers to find the best location for the driveways.

But, Planning Administrator Travis Crane said that if there’s no regulatory or engineering reason for staff to say no to the driveway access, “we can’t say no.”

Councilor Russ Stephenson tried to find a legal way around the code that would satisfy the neighbor’s concerns, including looking at prohibiting driveway access until the entire intersection can be studied and redone.

Today, the intersection is one of many that can get jammed up when drivers try to make left turns either from, or onto, Oberlin Road.

“Until something can be done about that intersection, they’d like to limit access onto Van Dyke,” said resident Laurie Hall, speaking on behalf of the neighbors.

With no legal way to restrict access onto Van Dyke Avenue, Councilors agreed to let the full Council make a final decision as to whether the application should be scheduled for a public hearing in November.

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