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Villa Maria rezoning to go before Steubenville City Council

STEUBENVILLE — The proposed rezoning of the old Villa Maria property on North Seventh Street is headed to City Council for approval.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing Monday on the request to rezone the 5.43-acre property from medium density residential district (R-2) to general commercial and industrial district (I-1) to facilitate construction of a retreat capable of housing overnight guests.

“We’d like to reuse the building as a retreat center, possibly some minor convention facilities,” supporter Michael Thompson told the lone zoning board member in attendance. “Hopefully it will allow for renovation of it as well. It’s a beautiful, historic structure.”

Ken Baldwin, an Aberdeen Road resident, said it was “an opportunity” to develop a prayer and retreat house for guests.

By charter, Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi said when the zoning board is unable to reach a decision within the proscribed 60 day window, “by its inaction we will be deemed to have approved it.”

Petrossi had planned to recommend the board approve the zoning change, saying it would not create or contribute to known unsafe or hazardous conditions. The proposed use also dovetails with the existing neighborhood property uses.

“The proposed rezoning will not create an isolated zoning district unrelated to adjacent districts since the ‘I-1’ general commercial and industrial district already exists” across the street, “therefore this could not be considered spot zoning,” Petrossi said.

Petrossi said the appropriate legislation will be forwarded to council for consideration, adding a public hearing will be held Feb 1 on another rezoning request, this one to allow outdoor commercial storage on Lincoln Avenue.

Due to the lack of a quorum, the zoning board was unable to conduct any business Tuesday.

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