February 25, 2014


South Avenue project draws opposition

Staff Reporter

A representative of the 5th Ward Neighborhood Watch came out in opposition of a proposed rooming house on South Avenue Monday night during a Planning Commission meeting.
Amanda Funk, who said she spoke as a representative of the group, was adamant in her opposition to the project by Ed Bennedy, which would convert a former train station on South Avenue into 14 rooms, four studio apartments and a one-bedroom apartment. The building is currently vacant, except for a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor.
Funk was the only member of the community who spoke out against the proposal during a public hearing on Bennedy’s proposal. She said she represented over 70 people connected to the neighborhood watch with reservations about Bennedy’s intended use for the property.
“His properties are run down,” Funk said. “He doesn’t care for the quality of the neighborhood and he doesn’t care how his inaction impacts the entire community.”
Bennedy said he didn’t believe the opposition to the project was as significant as Funk implied and said he left the neighborhood in better shape than he found it.
Bennedy owns 19 properties in the city, according to the county real property tax records.
“I got into this business 10 years ago,” Bennedy said. “Many of the houses on South Avenue were vacant, abandoned, just destroyed ... For somebody to say that I’m going to be a detriment to the neighborhood, that’s not true.”
Funk was quick to criticize the potential tenants of the property. She cited concerns about drug dealers, sex offenders and other “transients” as the possible clientele for the housing.
“Historically train stations are where you’d go to pick up loved ones, trading commerce and goods,” Funk said. “Bringing that back to the South End that’s been impoverished since the majority of our manufacturing has left would be a good improvement.”
The commission decided to remove Bennedy’s project from the agenda and postpone review until his architect can attend a meeting and explain the drawings. Renovations to the property, including those related to curbing and facade changes, were not present in the latest drawings which were received late by the commission.
One project that was approved by the Planning Commission without a hitch was a subdivision and property line adjustment between two parcels owned by developer Jim Reeners on Lincoln Avenue.
Reeners applied to more evenly divide the property line between the adjoining parcels at 91 and 93-95 Lincoln Ave. to make it eligible for multiple family dwellings. After the adjustment, the parcels, at 9,000 square-feet and 12,000 square-feet, are well above the mandatory 7,200 square-feet required for multiple family dwellings in the city code.
Reeners had originally purchased the property to build a single, six-unit housing structure but was denied a use variance by the Zoning Board of Appeals. He now intends to renovate the home at 91 Lincoln Ave. and demolish the house at 93-95 Lincoln Ave. before rebuilding a two-family home.
A proposal to allow a cat shelter and sanctuary at 5-7 Wheeler Ave. by Eugenia Cute was tabled when no one was there to represent the proposal. Cute intends to house up to 50 cats in the second unit of the two-family home on the property. She faced 28 counts of failure to provide proper food and drink to a harbored animal, a misdemeanor under Agriculture and Markets law after police raided the shelter at the same location in 2006 and found 280 cats on the property.


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