HUDSON — One of the secondary projects related to the city opening up land for Downtown Phase II is drawing concerns from some residents.
Multiple buildings are being relocated as part of the city’s Downtown Phase II project. Jody Roberts, the city’s communications manager, said the city purchased Windstream Communications’ building and property at 100 Owen Brown St. That building will be torn down to provide space for the Downtown Phase II development.
Scott Morris, spokesman for Windstream, said the company’s customer service technicians currently operate out of 100 Owen Brown, but will be moved to 245 N. Main Street, where Windstream operates an engineering and sales division. The technicians will start their work days at the N. Main Street location and then head out to handle their assignments, according to Morris.
About 20-25 trucks and vans will be parked in the lot behind 245 N. Main St., said Morris, who noted that the vehicles would not operate during overnight hours unless they were handling an emergency.
"Ordinarily, it will be a normal business-hours operation," said Morris.
In conjunction with that plan, Windstream in May received approval from the city’s Architectural and Historic Board of Review to build a 20-foot by 24-foot accessory building for storage and a privacy fence around the rear parking lot. Windstream is also planting a row of Arborvitae to provide additional screening. Greg Hannan, the city’s community development director, said on Tuesday that the fence will be 6 feet high.
Morris said the company was putting in the fence "for security reasons" because the trucks and other equipment will be parked there overnight. He said his firm is working on obtaining building permits from the county before it can begin work on the fence.
Some visitors to the At-Large City Council forum at the Barlow Community Center on Tuesday voiced their concerns about the fence and what they anticipate will be an increase in truck traffic and noise.
Windstream’s rear parking lot is situated behind Nancy Domeck’s home. Domeck said she felt the fence planned by Windstream did not belong in the city’s historic district and added she was "very disappointed" that the Architectural and Historic Board of Review approved the project.
"We’re all concerned about traffic congestion and noise pollution," said Jonathan Domeck, Nancy’s son. "The safety to our citizens who are coming down to shop is impacted."
Jonathan Domeck asked Council members to repeal the plan for the fence.
Councilman Dr. J. Dan Williams (At-Large) said the Architectural and Historic Board of Review approved the fence plan "because it meets all requirements." Williams said there was "nothing for Council to look at here. It met the code."
Jonathan Domeck read a portion of the Architectural Board’s Powers and Duties that states: "the Board shall protect and preserve the value, appearance and use of property on which buildings are constructed or altered, to maintain a high character of community development, to protect the public health, safety, convenience and welfare and to protect real estate within the municipality from impairment or destruction of value."
"We’re seeing destruction of value on property that’s been there for over 50 years," said Domeck, who added he believed Council had "the checks and balances in place to repeal this."
Williams said he did not feel Council had the authority to repeal the fence plan "when it’s met all the requirements."
Jonathan Domeck told the Hub-Times on Wednesday he has asked Mayor David Basil to look into the issue.
Hannan said the fence project is under a category of projects that does not require a public hearing or City Council approval; however, because neighbors had "significant" concerns, the city worked with Windstream to modify its plans. He also noted that because the area in question is in a historic district, the project was given greater review.
Williams noted he and about six to eight residents met with Windstream officials at the site about three to four weeks ago. Since then, Williams said Windstream made changes to its plan, none of which they were required to do.
The changes are:
• Windstream will have a registered surveyor place several stakes along the property lines to confirm fence placement will be on the Windstream parcel and to give the homeowners a better visual in the field.
• Windstream will relocate the fence so it connects to the north and south facades of the detached structure, which will allow for the preservation of existing vegetation at this location.
• Windstream will work to maintain an approximate 2.5 foot setback from the parking lot pavement at the east and west with an approximate setback for the parking lot of 6-8 feet from the parking lot at the north. This placement will keep the fence several feet setback from the shared property lines on all sides allowing for preservation of plantings along the shared property lines.
• Windstream will incorporate 6 foot tall evergreen plantings at 6 feet spacing along the west property line adjacent to 253 and 257 N Main St. These two residences have the closest distance to the fence. Windstream will obtain feedback from the adjacent owners after the fence is installed and prior to planting to confirm if preservation of existing would be preferred in specific locations.
Roberts said the city is still in the process of negotiating the purchase of Windstream’s second building and property at the corner of Morse Road and Owen Brown.
The Windstream buildings are two of several structures that need to be taken down to create space for Downtown Phase II. The others are the salt dome, bus garage and Hudson Public Power storage building.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.