Herald Staff Writer
Several citizens and council members shared their thoughts and concerns about the plans to develop high-density housing within the city of Norton.
Council members introduced several pieces of legislation Monday evening during a virtual committee of the whole meeting regarding the planning and development of housing where the Brookside Country Club golf course is currently located. Councilman Jack Gainer stated, “I feel this project will provide a lot of needed housing, it’s going to create employment for the area and increase tax bases such as property, income and school taxes.” He also went on to say he hopes the schools will be able to eliminate some of the open-enrolled students as the number of students in Norton will be increasing as families move in. He also said it provides future possibilities for the area and will be at little cost to the city and as new businesses such as Amazon develop in the area, employees will need local housing.
Councilwoman-at-Large Charlotte Whipkey stated she believes less is more and they could make just as much money with fewer homes, stating, “Driving down through the city blocks in Akron or even Barberton and looking how close the homes are there, why would we even want to entertain having this in front of us?” She went on to say, “This won’t even look like Norton. I’m not the only one that feels this way- there’s a lot of people.” She stated she will vote against anything regarding the development moving forward. She also explained when the zoning was changed previously, it was meant to become an area for senior housing.
Councilman Dan Karant said he has received over 60 emails regarding the development, both against and in favor of it. He also stated he doesn’t know how much it will actually affect the surrounding area when it comes to traffic flow but he supports the project and believes it will increase property value in the area. Councilman Paul Tousley asked how the city would benefit from the development, stating it will be quite some time before the city sees any financial gain and by that time, the roads will need to be re-done. Gainer stated, “I can’t see how I could not be in favor of improving the infrastructure of the city at the developer’s cost.” Vice President Scott Pelot stated if businesses are going to move into the city, they are going to need people to support them.
The first of three readings for the legislation regarding the development will take place during the next city council meeting Monday, Oct. 26 as well as other legislation regarding bonds and updating council chambers to make changes related to COVID-19.