School building issue still undecided

Published 11:52 am Wednesday, May 28, 2014

SOUTH POINT — A tabled issue was the discussion of a special village council meeting in South Point Tuesday night.

Joe Freeman, who bought the former South Point Elementary School in 2012, was seeking a variance to the zoning order that would allow him to use the building for commercial purposes. The current zoning order mandates that only residential properties may be allowed in that neighborhood of the village.

“I want to work with the community,” Freeman said during the council meeting. “That is why we came to this compromise to only allow six different types of professionally licensed businesses to operate in the building under this variance if granted.”

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Those six businesses are accounting, appraisal, law, architectural, engineering and surveying firms. This stipulation was added to the variance prior to the specialcalled meeting to try to ease concern that less reputable businesses could occupy the building located in the quiet neighborhood.

Still, citizens like Brenda McKee had concerns about the effects a commercial property would have on the area and her home’s value.

“It is untrue to think that this won’t change the way of life in our neighborhood,” McKee said. “We have a nice area with lots of children and traffic will now become a problem for the kids, and their parents with businesses being located down the street. Also, it is proven in many studies that commercial properties being near residential properties decreases the value of a home.”

Freeman countered the traffic argument and tried to reassure McKee that he would not allow for heavy traffic in the area.

“I wouldn’t allow anything in there that wasn’t a nine to five,” Freeman said. “I want those people in that neighborhood to be able to come home to peace and quiet just like when I come home.”

After hearing the pros and cons from both sides South Point council members deliberated for about a half hour. Council decided this issue could not be resolved at the present time.

“We (the village) have asked our attorney to draft something more specific,” council member Mary Cogan said. “We only want the variance to apply to the area where the building and the parking lot are located and not the vacant lots. So to avoid confusion we’ve asked our attorney to draft us a document that would reflect that.”

The issue will now be decided next Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. or after the regularly scheduled village council meeting.

“I think we can make this happen,” Cogan said. “We want to do what is right for the community, and at the same time follow the legal advice we are getting. But, I believe we can get this done.”

If the variance is allowed Freeman is hopeful it will bring jobs to the village.

“I want to bring in the kind of professional businesses the village needs,” Freeman said. “I want to help bring jobs to the community and overall just make the community a better place.”