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Neighbors Meet over Towing Company's Relocation plans on Lake Street

Kent council members urge compromise, ask for patience as proposal works through zoning process

Residents of Miller Avenue, Steele and Harvey streets gathered Wednesday to voice concerns about a towing company's proposed relocation adjacent to their back yards.

Kirk and Rosa Noden opened their home to about 30 neighborhood residents to share thoughts and concerns about Baker's Towing & Auto Repair's .

After about an hour, in a show-of-hands vote the residents agreed they didn't want to see any incarnation of the towing or repair business a stone's throw from their back yards.

"We seem to be in agreement ... we are opposed to Baker's Towing," Kirk Noden said.

Among the concerns voiced by residents about the proposed move were: late night and early morning noise from the towing operation; fumes from diesel exhaust; negative effects on property values; and car storage.

Harvey Street property owner Larry Beck said he's afraid the towing company will encroach onto other properties if it moves further into the neighborhood.

"He has a right to have his business, but not on our block," Beck said.

Whether or not the residents can stop the company's relocation could be determined next month.

Heather Phile, development planner for the city of Kent, said Baker's Towing owner Aubrey Baker filed on Monday for a "substitution of a non-conforming use" request with the Kent Board of Zoning Appeals.

Phile said the property at 638 Lake St. is zoned R-3, which permits dense residential uses. Two businesses, a catering firm and storage operation, have run out of the building for years, and several years ago the zoning board voted to allow those non-conforming uses.

Phile said Baker has asked to substitute another non-conforming use, the towing and auto repair business, via the request to the zoning board. She said Baker's request is preliminarily scheduled for the zoning board's June 18 meeting.

Several members of attended the meeting at the Noden's house Wednesday and encouraged the neighbors to offer suggestions for what kind of business or use they would like to see at the property.

Council members Tracy Wallach, whose Ward 6 includes the property, Mike DeLeone, Roger Sidoti and Robin Turner all encouraged the neighbors to let Baker's request work through the zoning process.

DeLeone and Wallach urged the neighbors to consider potential compromises.

"Something's going to go there," DeLeone said. "I want to see what you guys want."

Most residents said they would prefer to see the storage and catering operations remain instead of the towing and auto repair proposal.

While most opposed the entire idea, a few residents offered potential compromises that included prohibiting truck traffic on the neighborhood streets, thus limiting Baker's traffic to Lake Street. Another neighbor suggested limiting the hours of operation to week day, day time hours.

Baker told Kent Patch in a previous interview that towing is done 24 hours a day, but he only plans to be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the new location. Any towing done outside those hours would enter the new site on its western edge to try and limit noise for the houses to the east, he said.

He also said he planned to focus more on auto repair and less on towing and impounding cars because the new location is smaller and has less room for car storage.

"That’s more of what I want to do," Baker said. "I know a lot of the residents were very concerned about cars, impounding cars."

Baker added that he also wanted to build a landscape buffer at the rear of the property to try and shield the back yards from the business.

"I already want to beautify this piece of property so it looks great," Baker said. "Those people are potential customers of mine, I hope. I am open to listen to the people."

Wallach said, as a council person, the best she could do is listen to the residents' concerns and try to have Baker address them if he is allowed to make the move by the zoning board. She said he has already bought the property and legally has permission to use it for storage because of the existing non-conforming use allowance.

"I'm kind of in a tight spot because I represent Baker's Towing because he's a business in my ward and I represent you as residents," Wallach said.

However, the residents pushed for stronger action or commitments of support from the council members present and argued the city should not lose focus on its neighborhoods in light of Kent's economic redevelopment boon.

"It's been great to see the town's resurgence," Jeff Langstaff said. "Stabilization of all the neighborhoods ... is critical. We can't just focus on downtown."

Noden said the residents' next step is to approach Baker with their concerns and then attend the zoning board meeting when the issue is up for a vote.

"I have a 6- and an 8-year-old kid who are going to walk out into my back yard and potentially smell exhaust fumes every day," Noden said. "This is my life, this is my family, this is this community's quality of life. And I'm going to fight for it very hard."

Diane Stresing May 10, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Baker's is the source of a LOT of traffic on Harvey, too - day and night - in this purely residential (single family) neighborhood with an elementary school on Harvey between Lake and Crain. Those factors should be weighted heavily as council considers this matter.
Artie May 10, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Yeah, good luck with City Council and compromise. All you have to do is look at South Lincoln and the building that's going on there. Council members really listen to neighborhood residents... just ask the homeowners on High Street!! If it brings $$$ into the city, forget it!
Marilyn Carlson May 10, 2012 at 05:53 PM
I agree! The council members just wan to play cool, we do not oppose to Baker's we oppose to a change of the code, we wan to keep it as it is and welcome ANY business that operates without a change of zoning of the R-3. Mrs. Wallach is the only one that supports Baker's she says a fence will be enough. It was not enough for her that 30 residents and almost 60 signatures oppose to a change of the zoning, that is ok Baker can have her, such a council member that ignores the request of a whole neighborhood should not be a council person. We will remember that on her next election. Ward 6 needs a GOOD council member!
Matt Fredmonsky May 10, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Comments were removed for violating Patch's terms of use. http://kent.patch.com/terms
joe collins May 10, 2012 at 06:33 PM
She is a good council women
Howard May 10, 2012 at 07:46 PM
The Baker truck goes up and down Harvey/Wilson many, many times per day. The large deisel engine produces a very loud rumble which causes vibrationa and rattling. The previous post is correct. Harvey is a residential street. The constant commercial tow truck traffic is not what Kent should tolerate in the residential areas.
joe collins May 10, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Well howard get over it people have a job to do. All everyone does is.cpmplain or u can get better windows
Teresa K. May 10, 2012 at 08:54 PM
@joe: your comments are a little on the attack side, arent they? you have me thinking you work for Bakers and you're not doing them any favors with your comments.
joe collins May 10, 2012 at 08:58 PM
No I dnt work for bakers I hate when people try and keep people from doing good things
Edward Moisio May 12, 2012 at 04:04 PM
What good things come out of a junk yard. At the present location you can not see the junk cars.If Bakers were really concerned about the residence he would obey the sign that posted no trucks on Harvey. If the city wants that business then they can put him on their own proterty down the street.
Sa;;y May 12, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Sally - I don't live in the neighborhood but I know folks who do. Even if they aren't towing vehicles in 24/7 most repairs work is done by frequently accelerating on the gas. Where are the exhaust fumes from this going to go? Yeah, in the residents mouths. Bad, bad, bad idea. This is not the type of business you put in someone's back yard.
Teresa K. May 12, 2012 at 09:07 PM
@joe, No one wants to see Baker's have any kind of hardship. Maybe this isn't about Bakers so much, maybe it's just about residents who have been on their properties way longer than any new auto towing/ repair business in the neighborhood. Joe, you're not trying to keep us from doing good things for ourselves, are you? I appreciate your passion : )
phill May 14, 2012 at 01:10 AM
this is stupid let the man do his job you have school bus that go up that road every day you dont make a big a deal out of that so whats the big deal about the tow trucks its the same diff so get over your selfs
Wm Mahota May 15, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Wow after reading this I am not sure what to say. Maybe a few Questions. Did anyone invite Mr Baker to your neighborhood meeting to address concerns on a face to face level between neighbors? Has not Aubry been a neighbor for over 5 years now? How many of the 30 neighbors have properties that connect to the old Chuckwagon property? From a google map search it seems three single family houses to the rear or south, the carter rental proprties to the west and the harvey st apts to the east. I know first hand the Harvey st apts are mainly KSU students who rarely stay over one year. And for the most part the Carter rentals are much the same. Did anyone invite them? Are Baker Towing the only trucks using Havrey as a cut thru between rt59 to lake st? I know from working on harvey I ve seen everything from semi's to pick up trucks use that road. What would scare me more are the people who blow thru like its a racetrack. Ive had soccer moms almost hit me on their way to drop off or pick up their kids at the school.as they run late. And lastly how many trucks do Bakers run? I've stopped in to both locations and have only seen two standard tow trucks the same size as the pickup truck I drive and many of you neighbors have parked in your driveways. And one Flat bed that is smaller then almost every bus that drives down that road daily. Oh and two dump trucks that only run twice a day out to job sites and back in after work,but only on lake st as thats a state route.
Wm Mahota May 15, 2012 at 05:55 AM
You know this is kind of burning on my mind, after seeing a google map of 638 lake st kent ohio.(go ahead copy and paste to see for yourself) There are only three single family properties(standard homes) that connect to the 638 lake Baker property to the rear. The others (east and west) are apartments who's tenants are mostly KSU students and owners of which I know personally and can hardly believe would oppose the cleaning up of such a eye sore. And until now has been a negitive affect on their property value and security of their investments. Would ever hamper the improvments to this location. If for no other reason but to remove the bums and traniants that have use the Chuckwagon building as a vacant flop house or dumping grounds. It would seem to me that there are Three property owner to the rear of the area that are the main complanties,and as of reading the above comments only two of which seem to have a problem with Aubry Bakers atempts to appeize and get along with his neighbors. As read, One would be happy with a nice fence. Thanks to Mrs. Wallach for a neighborly aditude :) As I read thru these comments and articles it starts to me anyway to seem it truly is an atempt by two people(property Owners) to insight a for the best I can discribe as a witch hunt(I am irrated with this) of a man who runs a business to move 400feet to his own properity. Upgrade and evolve to a better building while still willing to work with his neighbors on a equally benifical ends.
j Roszek May 15, 2012 at 11:14 AM
j Roszek 11:09 pm on Monday, May 14, 2012 I have only one question to the residents that have signed a petition against this business relocating....where were you for the past few years while this property fell into disrepair? As I'm certain that it didn't help your property values living next to a vacant eye sore, where was your concern? Now that someone wants to make it a better place, you're part of a community that cares? Doubtful. I don't know Mr. Baker but will vocally support his attempt to do what you people couldn't manage to do for yourselves...make your neighborhood a better place.
Troy McClure May 15, 2012 at 11:16 AM
Well said, and way to call them out on staying silent while this place became a dump. Let's see what they have to say (in other words: stand-by for excuses).
Wm Mahota May 16, 2012 at 12:11 AM
I'd like to add one more FACT I spoke to one of the properity owners to the east and he seemed very distured that someone would assume he would not like this. I beleive His comment was As long as they do as said I Welcome a fresh start to the old building.
Marilyn Carlson July 02, 2012 at 04:37 AM
@ Wm Mahota: Mr. YOU have a lot of work to do there are about 200 people that signed the petition! and By the way you can not go around threatening people for what they believe! Sorry that Mr. Baker is not going to keep paying you money for parking his trucks Illegally in the empty lot across the apartment building.

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