MEDINA — A local businessman wants city officials to rezone three properties he’s purchased from high-density urban residential (R3) to multi-use (MU) to allow for office space.
City Council’s Finance Committee listened to businessman Dominic Carrino and his attorney, Anthony Vacanti, at Monday’s Finance Committee. This is after the Planning Commission didn’t recommend the change to Council on April 11.
Carrino wants to rezone the properties at 216, 222 and 226 S. Jefferson St., all across the street from his business, Dominic’s Restaurant/Jo-Jo’s Sports Bar, 221 S. Jefferson St.
Carrino has battled the Medina Library over its clients using his parking spots for years. During lunch and dinner, finding spots in his lot is difficult.
He said the rezoning isn’t for parking. It’s to provide commercial office space in the houses. Carrino said he also has no plan to tear down the houses and build parking lots.
The Finance Committee said it couldn’t make a decision on the matter for two reasons. There is a public hearing on the request set for June 24. Also, city Law Director Greg Huber said he has not been properly brought up to speed on the proposal.
At-Large Councilman Paul Rose, a member of the Planning Commission, said several residents on South Jefferson asked the commission to keep the properties residential.
“There was a lot of conversation against it,” Rose said.
Some of the residents are afraid Jo-Jo’s will use the parking behind the three houses for overflow parking for his sports bar, which normally closes at 2 a.m.
Ward 2 Councilman Dennie Simpson said he couldn’t support it because the courthouse parking deck is across East Washington Street from Carrino’s establishment.
Medina Community Development Director Jonathan Mendel said a multi-use zoning normally houses small, low intensity offices, retail or residential. The entire backyard of the houses could be paved in multi-use zoning.
“They cannot tear down the houses with the MU zoning,” Mendel said. “Under the current R3 zoning, the houses could be potentially demolished with a demolition permit.”
Carrino said there will be a fence and five feet of landscaping around the backyards.
“My parking problem isn’t after 8 o’clock,” Carrino said. “The parking problem is from 11 (a.m.) to about 7:30-8 (p.m.) when the library is open. When they close, I have plenty of parking.
“I don’t see my customers using the across-the-street parking. I don’t see that as being used as overflow. Right now I’m being squeezed at lunch time and dinner time.”
Carrino said his customers just don’t use the parking deck.
He said he’d be willing to put up signs saying the parking lots behind the houses are for the establishments that will lease them. He does want to use parking behind the houses for the lunch and dinner crowds, but not for the late-hour parking for Jo-Jo’s.
Vacanti said if his client is denied, it raises some crucial legal issues. He said the change in zoning is supported by the city’s Comprehensive Plan, which is legislatively adopted.
“We’re dealing with constitutional property rights,” he said. “Right now, the Comprehensive Plan supports what we’re proposing. To deny it, it raises constitutional issues.”
He said if his client is denied, it puts him in an economic hardship but also it doesn’t make much sense.
Carrino’s plan is to maintain the residential structures.
“By allowing this zoning to go through, you’re actually protecting these properties,” Vacanti said. “As it stands right now (under the R3 zoning), we have the right to tear it down.
“I’m not threatening that, but that’s just the reality.”
Carrino said has invested about $2 million in Dominic’s/Jo-Jo’s over the years and purchased the three houses for about $300,000.
“I ask Council to remain open minded,” Vacanti said. “We don’t want to be in an adversarial position. These are very important issues to my client.”