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Zoning dispute threatens thrift shop on West Side

Published: Tue, November 27, 2012 @ 12:07 a.m.

By Jamison Cocklin



A misunderstanding over the city’s zoning code has snowballed for a local thrift store that began renting retail space at 2828 Mahoning Ave. in October.

The Family Outreach Thrift Shop, which also engages in a host of charitable activities throughout the community, is threatened with the prospect of being shuttered by the city after it received a summons to appear in Youngstown Municipal Court on Dec. 5.

The disagreement came to a head last week when the Youngstown Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals refused to grant the business a zoning waiver.

Under the city’s zoning code, strip clubs, adult bookstores, bars, tattoo parlors, payday lending operations, pool halls and secondhand stores are considered “regulated use” venues, which require approval from the city to operate.

The zoning board refused the waiver after it found that there are five other “regulated use” venues within 500 feet of 2828 Mahoning, contending there are too many similar operations in the area.

Also problematic, said Councilman Mike Ray, D-4th, is the city’s contention that Family Outreach never sought a waiver in the first place, which is first required to obtain an occupancy permit — another document the business is currently without.

On the other hand, John Zucco, who owns and operates the store with his mother and father, says the city has unfairly revoked its right to operate because it is not yet selling anything.

“We weren’t operating — just helping those that needed clothes,” Zucco said. “We were going through the process of completing our paperwork, we have all the necessary licenses at the state level and we were in the process of restructuring our business to do more for the people who need us.”

Zucco found himself in front of the zoning board after an incident Nov. 17 when Zucco says both an inspector with the city and Ray made a random walk-through at a coat drive. Zucco says no sales were being made, but rather, along with his family, he was passing out free coats to those with vouchers from area churches.

In any event, the city’s legal department, on Monday, confirmed that with the zoning board’s final decision to deny the waiver, all subsequent appeals will have to be made in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

“I’m in favor of the services [Family Outreach] offers,” said Ray, whose ward is home to the store’s current location. “But you have to comply with the regulations in place. Being a responsible business owner means acquiring all the necessary documents and paperwork. We have to be careful with regulated uses — it was a risk they chose to take — and it requires the correct process.”

Without a permit and waiver, Family Outreach will not be allowed to operate. On Monday, the business was trying to raise community awareness for its situation, and Zucco said he hopes the community will help support its charitable services by getting involved.

“We’re looking for any help we can; an attorney, money, anything,” Zucco said. “I refuse to stop helping people in need because of a piece of paper. I understand there’s a law, but people need help, especially at this time of year.”


1UNCOMMONSENSE(622 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

And how will a closed unused building benefit the neighborhood and city? Let the man do business.

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2One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

I wonder if Mike Ray get's his bow-ties there and they ran out so he got pissed at them?

Another spectacular example of City Council stupidity. With all of the problems going on on the west side, he chooses to make an "Example" out of a business that was doing no harm what-so-ever. If this was an Internet Gambling club or a Porn Bookstore, he may have a point - but Jesus, this place is a thrift store.

As UNCOMMONSENSE said - is another empty building a better option?

I dont know whether or not this guy is the saint he's making himself out to be, but he's certainly not doing nearly the harm that these Chicken$hit bureaucrats that make up our City Council are.

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3ytownredux(117 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

I could be wrong, but isn't this the same councilman that was in charge of the Citizens Committee that recommended evening out the wards and lowering the pay of council, 13 recommendations in all, where he and other council members only allowed 4 to go on the ballot. Mr Ray is part of the problem of our current City Council, definitely not someone for finding solutions!!!

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4kurtw(1758 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

I drive down this particular section of Mahoning Ave. all the time and what I see tells me that the area needs every kind of legitimate business possible- and what's wrong with a second-hand store? I shop them all the time and they're a great source of bargains especially in these economically troubled times.

Also, talking about zoning used to encourage neighborhood "up-lift", about six blocks down from the thrift is another store on the left hand side, a women's clothing store that has three female mannequins on the sidewalk with barely covered boobs big enough to obstruct traffic in the opposing direction. I notice them every time I go by. Have the City Fathers protested them? (I personally don't mind- I've never had any particular objections to boobs- whether plastic or flesh!)

Also, please tell me, what overpaid, bureaucratic nincompoop put "strip clubs, adult book stores, bars, tattoo parlors, payday lending operations, pool halls- and SECOND HAND STORES" in the same category. It makes no sense. Thrift stores are a huge benefit to society- unlike the other establishments- with the obvious exceptions of bars. Grouping them together is the kind of stupidity one would expect of anyone connected with Youngstown City Government.

What this story illustrates again, is the correctness of the Tea Party Movement. Americans need to take control of their government again and wrest power away from incompetent politicians and overpaid bureaucratic nincompoops of the kind that perpetrated the above captioned travesty.

Remember: Our Constitution guarantees the right of the people to overthrow government if it becomes tyrannical and subverts the will of the people. We have a chance to do that here in Youngstown. Get rid of the Butts and the Hollow Heads attached to them that fill the Musical Chairs and Bring in some New Ones.

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5GMOOH1(2 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Shut it down. There is way too many of dumps around this town. They did not follow the law, so they should be able to do business, making a profit or not. And the owner of this one? I wouldn't give him a nickel...

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6GMOOH1(2 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Should not be able to do business **

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