Mayor has new plan to thwart drug store

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 21

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner has not given up the fight to stop a proposed Rite Aid store in South Toledo.

Just a day after council overrode his vetoes trying to stop the project – which would tear down several old buildings at Broadway and South Avenue to make way for an 11,000-square-foot pharmacy – the mayor has another idea.

Yesterday, he announced he would ask the council to impose a 60-day moratorium on the issuance of any demolition permits in a community development cor poration’s area.

CDCs cover about half of Toledo’s area.

“It is shortsighted to tear down buildings for these box-like structures,” Mr. Finkbeiner said.

The mayor said the move was in response to the Toledo-Lucas County plan commission’s decision last week to approve the demolition of several homes and busi nesses at Woodville Road and East Broadway to make way for a Walgreens drug store.

Mr. Finkbeiner said the plan commission’s decision left him “totally shocked.”

He said the national drug store chains are involved in a building war but predicted that “in four years, there will be a lot of empty buildings” when the market contracts.

The mayor said the plan commission is working on guidelines for commercial demolitions in the city, and that the council should wait until those guidelines are set to make more decisions on demolitions.

In the Rite Aid case, the council voted Nov. 24 to approve the drug store’s construction, 10-2. The mayor vetoed the ordinance Friday because he said it did not do enough to protect the neighborhood surrounding the prospective drug store. The council overrode the veto Tuesday, with Councilman Gene Zmuda joining colleagues Rob Ludeman and Edna Brown in supporting the mayor.

To enact a moratorium, the mayor would need to get seven votes on the council, if all members are present. And the mayor said he has asked the city’s law department to “examine all possible legal maneuvers” to stop or delay the drug store’s construction.

But several council members said they would not want to do anything to keep the Rite Aid issue alive any longer.

“This council has made a tough decision, and the citizens have spoken,” said Councilwoman Tina Wozniak Skeldon. “I want him to recognize council’s action.”

“The folks who are in these buildings [to be torn down] want to get out,” said Councilman Bob McCloskey, whose district includes the proposed Rite Aid site. “It’s a manhood issue for the mayor. He wants to show everybody that he’s boss.”

Even Mr. Ludeman, who supported the mayor in the two council votes, said Mr. Finkbeiner should put the matter to rest.

“If you’re opposed to something and fight a good fight, pat yourself on the back and get on with your life,” he said. “It’s past.”

Mr. Finkbeiner said he would ask the council to make the move at its Dec. 22 meeting. He said he got the moratorium idea from the Columbus city council, which is trying to take similar action because of two drug store chains seeking to tear down old buildings to make room for new stores. Columbus Mayor Greg Lashutka opposes the moratorium.