Group hoping proposal gets better reception

The organization wants the city to rezone the 66 acres.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The nonprofit agency behind the Wick District-Smoky Hollow redevelopment project will be in front of the city's planning commission today with the expectation that things will work out smoother than the last time.
Wick Neighbors Inc., the driving force behind the project, failed May 17 to get the recommendation of the commission on its plan to rezone the 66-acre site as a planned development overlay.
It didn't get the recommendation last month because it was the final item on a long agenda, and when one member left two hours into the meeting, the commission no longer had a quorum.
Without a majority of its members present, the commission couldn't take action on the Wick Neighbors' request.
At today's meeting, the commission scheduled the Wick Neighbors' presentation first and gave the group an hour for its presentation instead of the 30 minutes it typically gives for each request. Also, a majority of the commission's members say they will attend today's meeting.
Development revival
The property is zoned general residential, industrial limited and institutional. Wick Neighbors want to rezone the land as a planned development overlay. That permits the agency to get permission to rezone the 66 acres at once instead of a piecemeal process.
The city has approved the planned development overlay zoning classification only once. That was to Mahoning County Chemical Dependency Program Inc. for its site on Vestal Road.
If the zoning change for Wick Neighbors is endorsed, the commission would forward the recommendation to city council. Council must have a public hearing on the proposal within 30 days and then vote on it. It takes six votes from the seven-member council to overturn a planning commission recommendation.
Wick Neighbors unveiled a $250 million plan to revive the city's Wick District-Smoky Hollow area. The proposal includes a three-acre park; more than 500 townhouses, condominiums, single-family homes and apartments; commercial and retail space; senior citizen housing; and office space.
Also at today's meeting, the commission was slated to review and recommend the Youngstown 2010 Land Use Plan to city council as the guiding document for the city's future development.
The plan, more than two years in the making, includes a new land-use proposal for the city. The plan seeks to decrease the city's heavy industrial areas and create more industrial green space.

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