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Towne Auto Sales seeks expansion after Route 42 project takes a slice of its lot

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    Towne Auto Sales, at North Court and Harding streets, will be undergoing some major changes in the next few months.

    BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE

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MEDINA — The U.S. Route 42/North Court Street construction project is prompting a used-car dealership owner to rethink his business.

Mark Powers, owner of Towne Auto Sales at North Court and Harding streets for 28 years, said his business has been negatively affected by the Ohio Department of Transportation’s construction project along the North Court corridor.

“There has been some real harm done to me by what ODOT has done,” he said. “I’ve been worried about my survival.”

He said business is down by almost 25 percent and that ODOT informed him he also will lose between five and seven parking spaces at the front of his property when the road is widened.

The project includes rounding off the corner at North Court and Harding streets into a “radius,” which will cut deeper into his 0.17-acre property.

“It will allow 53-foot trucks to turn right from Route 42 onto Harding Street,” Powers said.

ODOT also has asked to park its vehicles on his lot when work is underway in front of his dealership, but he said he’s unsure when that will occur.

“During that period, they will have full access,” he said.

ODOT spokesperson Kaitlyn Maynard said Powers was compensated — the sum was not disclosed — for losing some of his property in the project’s right-of-way.

Maynard said an ODOT appraiser determined the site no longer would be viable as a used-car dealership. The highest and best use of the property was determined to be vacant land that would be ready for redevelopment into a commercial retail or office space, with the current structure being a liability and in need of demolition.

“It was compensation just for the property loss,” Powers said. “ODOT doesn’t have anything in its system for lost sales.

“I’m trying to do something to keep myself vibrant.”

He said because the ODOT appraisal “put us below the feasibility of a car lot, we looked at that as an opportunity to do more service work.”

Toward that goal, Powers wants to tear down two houses he rents at 124 and 126 Harding Street next to his business and build a service garage featuring four or five bays. The front of the building, 790 N. Court St., would be a showroom.

Powers is asking the city to rezone the two properties from R-3 high-density urban residential to C-3 general commercial. The Planning Commission has approved his request, which still requires a public hearing and City Council’s blessing.

He said his proposal would spruce up the area.

“It would make that corner look prettier,” the Columbia Station resident said. “The houses have never been in great shape. Leasing them (has) never been easy. They are perfectly suitable to be commercial. Thank God I bought them 20 years ago.”

The two single-family homes are on about a half acre on the south side of Harding Street.

Jonathan Mendel, Medina’s community development director, said there would need to be a buffer between the new addition and residential houses at the corner of Harding and North Broadway streets. The buffer could vary from a fence or possibly a line of evergreen trees.

“Personally, I’m excited for you,” Ward 2 Councilman Dennie Simpson told Powers at a recent Finance Committee meeting where Powers’ plan was discussed. “It gives you a great opportunity to expand. It’s been a successful dealership for quite some time. With the street project eliminating some of your spaces, I can understand your concerns.”

Council clerk Kathy Patton said the city will set a public hearing for Jan. 8 to hear any concerns about Powers’ request before heading back to council for a vote. If approved, the rezoning would be effective 30 days later, she said.

The Powers family owns several other properties in the city. His wife, Lisa, owns Medina Lighting, 3983 Pearl Road, Medina Township. Mark Powers also is part owner of Medina Collision Center, 539 N. State Road, and the landlord at Girves Brown Derby Restaurant, 5051 Eastpointe Drive, Medina Township.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.



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