Residents Voice Concerns On Sturgeon Street Development

Managing Editor

Concerned residents voiced their opinions during a public hearing held prior to Monday’s St. Marys City Council meeting regarding a local developer looking to purchase property for residential housing near Locust Street.

A handful of people voiced their concerns and displeasure with adding an eight-dwelling unit in a part of the abandoned Toledo & Ohio Central Company Railway on a 1.605 acre tract of vacant land.

Concerns brought up were the safety for children on an already busy Locust Street and that adding housing would create more traffic. Another concern was the potential for flooding because of development.

But the biggest issue was brought up by Christopher Kastens of 590 Locust St. who worried about Sturgeon Street — an undeveloped road that acts as his driveway and runs against his property to the east — and that if land is developed behind his home, there would be increased and unwanted traffic on the street.

“I’m against any extra traffic going by my house,” he said. “How do you cram so many people in an area and it ends up like that on somebody’s property? How can I get out of my garage? Is it fair for someone like me who has to pull into my garage every day of there is a full-blown street there with all the traffic running by my house?

“That’s not why I moved there.”

Rodney Kiefer of Rodney Kiefer Construction, LLC, a privately-held company in St. Marys, is looking to develop the 1.605 acres located south of Locust and can be accessed by Sturgeon Street. Kiefer’s sister — who is also his business partner — was in attendance.

Kiefer requested to rezone the parcel from an R-3 single family residential to an R-5, multi-family residential. The Planning Commission motioned to recommend the rezoning by a majority vote of three in favor and two against the request with an added stipulation that a restriction be placed on the deed to restrict the land to no more than eight total dwelling units. Superintendent of Community Services and Engineering Craig Moeller said that each unit will be a single-level duplex, as is planned right now. Moeller said in a May 28 council meeting that while Kiefer does not own the property, he believed he was in the process of purchasing it and that he would buy the property regardless if the land was re-zoned or not.

Dissenting members of the planning commission had concerns of a housing development located in a limited area. Another sticking point was the width of the road, which is 24 feet, can’t be changed because of restrictions that have been placed on the city — such as a lack of right-of-way space.

The house was built in 1917, according to Kastens, but zoning was not introduced in St. Marys until 1954, according to Law Director Kraig Noble — so there was no permission to have to build a house prior to 1954. Noble said the street was plotted before 1917.

Council President Jim Harris recommended tabling Ordinance 2019-12 — which would rezone the land to R-5 — to the next meeting to allow Moeller to seek other access options, if possible. One option would be build an access street on two vacant parcels of land to the west, but the schematics of the land may pose as a challenge, city officials said.