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Township trustees refuse medical plaza expansion



Published: Fri, June 29, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The plans called for a fourth medical office near an ambulatory surgery center.

HOWLAND -- Township trustees shot down the planned expansion of a medical plaza on Niles-Cortland Road, leaving the property owner pondering an appeal to the courts.

Trustees followed the advice of both the township zoning commission and the Trumbull County Planning Commission in refusing to rezone 10 acres of residential property owned by L3 Group Ltd. for commercial use.

The land is adjacent to three medical buildings built by L3 in 1999 and 1998, and also to St. Joseph Health Center's ambulatory surgery center. The company had plans to build a fourth, 10,000-square-foot medical office building on the property.

"We had 25,000 square feet rented as soon as it was available," said Dennis Lewis Jr., owner of L3. "We feel the demand is there."

Interference: The land also is adjacent to the 113-acre estate of real estate developer Brian Ross, who testified at an earlier hearing that lights from the parking lot already interfered with his view.

An attorney for Ross, Frank Bodor, told trustees that rezoning the one area would be tantamount to "spot zoning," a practice which courts have ruled against.

Tom Nader, lawyer for L3, argued that trustees would deprive his client of the use of his property, making it nothing but a "free buffer" for nearby residential properties by not rezoning it.

"You have landlocked residential, no more than 10 acres total, with no access to a viable street," he said. "There is no use at all" except commercial, he added.

Nader called the trustees' decision not to rezone the property "unconstitutional and unlawful" and said that he would discuss with his client appealing it through the courts.




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