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Tiffin council considers housing density concerns

TIFFIN– Given a chance to air their concerns, several Tiffin residents made it clear; they are not keen on high-density housing.
At the Wednesday, Jan. 9, Tiffin City Council meeting, the council held a public hearing on a rezoning request to allow increased density for four tracts of land already zoned for multifamily housing in Willow Ridge subdivision: two from R2 to R4, one from R2 to R8 and one from R4 to R8. One additional tract would decrease in density from R4 to R2 if the request is approved. A designation of R4 means there could be up to four units per structure, and R8 allows up to eight.
Resident Nelson Olivier said one thing that attracted his family to Tiffin was the spaciousness of housing developments.
“In the newer developments, you can see that lower density,” said Olivier. “This density here is not something I want to see. What we have in Woodfield Ridge is the kind of city I would like to see grow. We can’t even tell from this (request for) R2 to R4 how many units there will be in here. There’s still a lack of information, but based on what I am seeing, I would recommend a vote against it.”
Resident Diane Wass agreed.
“It seems like an awful lot of traffic that is going to be going down that street,” said Wass. “We already have R8 there. Having that right behind us, that’s very high density. It’s something I am not thrilled about.”
Wass asked how many units would be constructed. Project engineer Duane Musser of MMS Consultants was on hand to answer questions.
“As of right now, I can’t tell you if there is going to be eight or 108 units on there. There is a maximum number based on the square footage of the ground available,” said Musser. “But to get to the max number is very unlikely.”
Musser said his firm had been working with Tiffin Planning & Zoning commission,and they tried to match the density of existing development to the west.
“We are trying to transition with this zoning into zero lots and single family as we go east,” Musser said. “You have existing 12-plexes, and the max you will have next to it is eight-plexes. You have four-plexes here, and you will have four-plexes and duplexes next to it. It’s not very often you take a commercial zone along a highway and put single family behind it. You usually transition from high intense commercial use like a restaurant into multifamily units to a two-family unit, and as you get more toward Woodfield you transition into single family.”
Musser said the multifamily housing proposed would be a mix of rental units and owner-occupied condominiums.
Tiffin City Council member Royce Phillips said a previous council had already zoned the area for commercial development and multifamily housing.
“When these developers brought this plan to the council recently, I shared many of the concerns you folks have, that there is extensive multifamily housing,” said Phillips. “The reality is, there is already multifamily housing there. It’s not ideal, but I think these folks have done an admirable job of addressing those concerns and stepping down what is there and what is on the books already.”
The only exception, Phillips said, was that he would like to see Tract 2 be zoned as R2.
“It’s surrounded by R2s, I see no reason for it to be R4,” Phillips added.
Tiffin Mayor Steve Berner reminded the audience that there would be no action during the public hearing, and that when the rezoning was to be voted on, neighbors would be contacted. Berner also invited residents to view the project maps at Tiffin City Hall.
“Maps, as most everything, are located at city hall,” Berner said.