AUSTINTOWN Planners deny zoning change

The developer said he'll reconsider his options, but trustees could still approve the plan.
AUSTINTOWN -- A developer who's fighting residents in the Canfield Township Westbury Park subdivision over a plan for more housing there was denied a recommendation for a zone change.
The Mahoning County Planning Commission unanimously decided not to endorse a zone change from agricultural to planned unit development for Chris Abraham of TC Quality Homes.
The planning commission's meeting room in Austintown was packed Tuesday, thanks in large part to residents of the Westbury Park subdivision, off Gibson Road. They went to make sure the commission heard their objections to Abraham's plan, as they have at earlier meetings of the Canfield Township Zoning Commission and the township trustees.
The township zoning panel denied the plan Dec. 8, and Abraham withdrew it before trustees could consider it.
He then met with residents, made some modifications to the plan, and resubmitted it last month.
Too little
Resident Ed Lisowski of Grayson Drive told the planning commission, however, that Abraham did not go far enough in his modifications. He increased park land in the development, included a pool and clubhouse, and added one more entry road from Gibson. But, Lisowski said, Abraham never addressed the fact that he planned "villa-style" homes on narrower lots with shorter setbacks on 43.6 acres in the middle of a subdivision of larger, single-family "estate" homes.
"The more we learned what was going on, the more we opposed it," Lisowski said, and went on to describe a neighborhood that would be a series of PUDs with a strip of single-family homes running through it. Another developer is also planning a PUD nearby.
PUDs allow more homes to be built on less acreage, and members of the planning commission said they believe the density is the biggest issue for the neighborhood.
Abraham said the higher density would allow for more amenities, such as the parks, pool and clubhouse.
Resident Carol Potter said neighbors never expected a pool and clubhouse, and don't want one now. She said they don't want the expense and the maintenance.
Considering options
Abraham said TC Quality Homes could ask for R-1 zoning, but believes PUD is the better choice. He said that by "pulling the homes closer together" and putting the garages in the back, more space was available for parks. "We felt this enhanced our development."
After the commission denied recommending the zone change, Abraham said his company will look at its options for what to do next.
Residents, who have formed a group called Citizens of Canfield for Responsible Development, will still have a public meeting at 7 p.m. March 7 at the Canfield township hall.
Group member Carol Potter said residents intend to remain vigilant. Because the planning commission is only a recommending board, the Canfield Township zoning panel could still approve the zone change, though that is not likely, Potter said. Even if the zoning panel recommends against the change, the trustees have the final say. As of Tuesday afternoon, Abraham had not withdrawn his plan for consideration by the township.

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