Zoo fence move, new Home Depot get panel’s nod

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 18

Despite protests from neighbors, a fence at the Toledo Zoo and a Home Depot on Secor Road moved one step closer to going up as planned.

Toledo’s plan commission approved the two projects yesterday. But city council must make the final approval.

In the zoo project, an 8-foot-tall, 750-foot-long fence would be moved about 35 feet closer to Amherst Drive. Residents said that moving the fence would wipe out a grassy area that generations have used as a public park.

Project engineer George Oravecz said the move will create space for the zoo’s expansion in 2001. A horticultural building and the zoo’s formal gardens will be moved to the space.

Project opponents said the space, which the zoo owns, has been an integral part of the neighborhood for decades.

“The neighborhood’s probably used that space for 100 years,” said William Kaiser, who often plays Frisbee with his golden retriever in the lot.

“That space is the fabric of the neighborhood,” Amherst Drive resident Joe Manzoni said.

Others criticized the zoo’s administrators for not being open to discussion about the fence during community meetings.

“There has never been a discussion,” resident Pete Field said. “It’s always been, ‘Here’s what’s happening. Like it.'”

But Mr. Oravecz said the zoo had been up front with residents.

“The fact remains that the Toledo Zoological Society owns the property,” he said.

Before approving the zoo’s fence, commissioner Robert Savage amended its application to stop the zoo from putting barbed wire on the fence’s top, which it had planned to do.

All portions of the fence must be at least 25 feet from the street, commissioners ruled.

The zoo had planned for a fence that is between 15 and 25 feet from the street.

The commission approved the preliminary drawings of a Home Depot over residents’ concerns that the store could damage the neighborhood’s character.

Commission chairman Dick Meyers amended the commission’s requirements on the project to make Home Depot present its final plans to the commission for approval next month before construction can begin.

A citizen’s committee formed by council member Tina Wozniak Skeldon will meet with store officials next week and report to the commission at its next meeting.

The store would be in Ms. Skeldon’s district.

Toledo council’s planning committee approved the Home Depot project Nov. 26, and the zoo project will go before the committee Wednesday.