The Newark City Council faced a packed house Monday night with residents concerned about possible changes in refuse service and land use lawyers, citizens and landlords speaking out about the proposed Campus Edge project.
The council went on to unanimously approve rezoning and a special use permit for Campus Edge, a mixed-use housing and retail complex, despite opposition from landlords and some residents.
The refuse issue was not on the agenda, but that did not stop some residents from voicing their views.
"I would really hate to see the fellas go," one resident said. Refuse service typically has a high approval rate in surveys of residents.
Mayor Vance Funk and Councilman Stu Markham stressed that no decision has been made, but added that costs have to be studied every year.
Markham said the issue will be taken up at a council workshop in July. The possibility of outsourcing the service came after the city learned that Middletown saved several hundred thousand dollars by outsourcing refuse pickup.
A couple of dozen persons spoke during the public hearing for Campus Edge, offering a number of points of view.
Lisa Goodman, an attorney for Campus Edge project, made a lengthy presentation on the merits of the project, which was reduced in size following concerns from the community and council members.
Under the revisions, one large building with five stories was replaced by two three-story structures. A parking structure was also dropped and two large trees on the property are expected to be saved.
The development on Delaware Avenue, near Chapel Street proposes student housing and retail space on a tract west of the TD Bank branch. The project would raze buildings at 206,208, 220 and 224 E. Delaware Avenue.
Goodman said the project fits in with the city's comprehensive plan, with developers confident that the buildings can gain 32 LEED "green building" points. The project also includes 4,800 square feet of retail space.
Property owners in the area around Campus Edge, including residents of the Washington House condominiums, came out in support of the project and praised the developer for making the changes.
Larry Tarabicos, an attorney for the owners of the Traders Alley retail area near Campus Edge expressed concerns over issues related to parking and whether enough spaces were set aside. Tarabicos did disclose that the Traders Alley owners plan to build apartments over the development. He also called for the plan to go back to the Planning Commission.
Some landlords came out in opposition to the project, claiming the city did not need new student apartment projects, given the high vacancy rates in other areas.
However, developers for Campus Edge and a representative of another landlord disputed those claims, citing a nearly zero vacancy rate in the Main Street area and the possibility that the unhappy landlords needed to renovate their properties in order to attract tenants.
There was one heated moment when new councilman Mark Morehead, accused developers of misrepresenting the project by making a road between the two larger than the actual site plan in a drawing of the revised project. He later apologized.
The council also rejected calls to send the issue back to the city Planning Commission, which had earlier appproved a larger version of the project by a narrow margin.