SOUTH TOLEDO -- People who live in one south Toledo neighborhood say they've been betrayed by city council. They had been fighting plans for a new carry-out store at South Detroit and Byrne and thought they had a good chance to win. Then council voted to allow it, in what some are calling a double-cross.
The intersection in south Toledo already has a Hungry Howie's Pizza and a beauty salon. Last week, neighbors convinced the council's zoning committee to vote unanimously to deny a special use permit that Nabil Shanneck wanted to turn an old dry cleaner's building into a carry-out. But on the final vote Tuesday night before the entire city council, 9 of the 11 council members at the meeting approved it.
"We've been double crossed. That's how we feel," said Susan Dickman Fitzgerald, who lives near the site. She's one of several who are miffed at an apparent changing of minds among some council members. "We had absolutely no idea. Under the circumstances, obviously, we don't really trust anyone."
Neighbors say a new carry-out would be too close to Beverly School, a daycare, and their homes. "It's a nice, residential neighborhood right now," said Mike Shufeldt, who lives two blocks away. "We're just afraid that we are going to have an increase in traffic, an increase in noise, an increase in litter, and that's going to negatively affect our peace of mind and our property values."
Council member Ellen Grachek voted in committee last week to reject the permit. Tuesday, she voted to approve it. She told us the residents' concerns are valid, but she determined there wasn't a legally significant reason to deny the store owner. Council member Frank Szollosi agrees. "We want to send the message that whether you are an independent businessman or woman, or if you are a large corporation, you should feel comfortable investing in Toledo," said Szollosi. "We want jobs, and I think that trumped some of the concerns today."
Residents will still fight the carryout, promising to circulate petitions for the March 2008 ballot to make their precinct a "dry" one. "We are going to try. This is still America and we are going to try," said Fitzgerald.