A new potential tenant for the former Kent VFW property has emerged following the expiration of another contract.
On Tuesday, the Kent Planning Commission was scheduled to discuss a proposed zoning code map amendment for the property at 500 VFW Parkway, but applicant Josh Dobrilovic, who had made the request, had his contract for the property expire before the commission was able to act.
Michael Farmer, commander of the VFW Post that owns the property, revoked Dobrilovic’s contract, and thus his ability to request the change, on Jan. 3. Farmer then gave that authority to Greg Morscher on behalf of NEO Xenos Church, which recently rebranded as Freedom Fellowship of Northeast Ohio. The church has filed a separate application with the city for a map amendment.
The planning commission voted to close the matter without further discussion.
Acker-Moore Memorial Post on Fishcreek Road in Stow and its two pillars, the Stow VFW and Stow American Legion, are not going anywhere, Farmer emphasized after the meeting. Banquet hall rentals, acts of charity and work that benefits the community is still being orchestrated. No foreclosure proceedings have begun, Farmer said, largely due to the lenience of Portage Community Bank.
"We're not closed, we're open for business," he said.
Neil Brooks, an elder with Freedom Fellowship of Northeast Ohio, was in attendance at the commission meeting. He said Freedom Fellowship plans, simply, to make the building its new church.
Freedom Fellowship will pursue a map amendment to rezone the former Kent VFW property from Industrial to High Density Residential. A conditional use permit will also need to be obtained before the church can meet there. The new proposal will go before the planning commission in early February, Brooks said. Brooks said the area around the property is already zoned High Density Residential.
Brooks and Farmer said they spoke with residents in attendance at the meeting who responded positively to the idea of a church going into that spot.
"This is the most positive we've been in a long time," Farmer said.
Farmer said the former Kent VFW building was purchased without board approval by George Fisher, former Stow American Legion Post 175 commander. The Kent building and the Stow Acker-Moore Memorial Post are tied together under one mortgage through Portage Community Bank. The Kent site needs to be sold so the mortgage on the Acker-Moore building can be satisfied and restructured into a more manageable monthly payment rate.
Reporter Kaitlyn McGarvey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-298-1127.