Lawmaker's absence foils rezoning

City council agreed to accept annexation of more than 30 acres.
COLUMBIANA -- A bid to rezone a section of state Route 14 from residential to commercial failed to be adopted by city council although it received a majority of votes.
The measure received three "yes" votes and two "no" votes at council's Tuesday meeting. But it was still scrapped because council rules require at least four "yes" votes for passage.
Criticism: Councilwoman Joyce Allcorn and Mayor Lowell Schloneger criticized Councilman Don Leonard for failing to show up to vote.
Leonard voted against the rezoning when it was introduced at council's Nov. 6 meeting for the first of two required readings.
The measure passed the first reading because Leonard's "no" resulted in a 3-3 council deadlock, and Schloneger cast the tie-breaker in favor of it.
The measure was up for final approval Tuesday, and council members present stuck to the votes they cast Nov. 6.
Council members Leonard Pritchard, Paula Miner and Matt Weikart voted for the rezoning. Allcorn and Councilman Robert Hum II voted against it.
Had Leonard been there and voted "no" again, Schloneger could have again cast the tie-breaker, passing the measure.
Hum defended Leonard's absence, saying Leonard traditionally goes to Florida on Thanksgiving week. He could not be reached after the meeting.
For the rezoning measure to come before council again, it must be resubmitted.
Proposal: Several people who own houses on the property in question want it rezoned to commercial so they can sell their homes.
Businessman Henry Nemenz wants to buy the property -- located on the south side of state Route 14, east of McDonald's -- to place a grocery store on the land, which is part of a growing commercial strip.
But some Seventh Street residents who live near the proposed grocery store object to the rezoning, saying they don't want the enterprise near their homes.
Annexation: In other matters, council agreed to accept annexation into the city of about 32 acres in Beaver Township. The land is along the north side of state Route 14, just west of the commercial strip.
Developers want to build a medical complex on the property, which is zoned commercial.

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