Wheeling City Council Hears Comments On Zone Change for National Road Bank

WHEELING — Following a public hearing on the user fee, Wheeling City Council heard comments from residents on another controversial matter: a proposed zone change for a bank to be built on National Road in Edgwood.

Several months after the city’s Planning Commission recommended denial of the change, council is set to make the final decision regarding the matter at its first meeting in September.

Council heard first reading of the zone change at its meeting Tuesday evening.

Subsequently, several residents of the adjacent Lenox neighborhood expressed concerns with the zone change and proposed bank.

The zone change involves designating properties that house former church buildings at 1154 National Road and 2 Laruel Ave., now zoned for residential use, for new use as an educational, medical and office, or EMO, district.

If approved, the interested bank — not named by the lawyers who represent it — would purchase the properties from owner Tom Tuttle, tear down the former church and build a $2 million facility with drive-through service.

The Planning Commission on March 11 voted to recommend denying the zone change, and council delayed holding a vote on the matter until members could receive more input.

Bank representatives later met with residents to discuss concerns with the zone change and bank at a Ward 5 meeting in April.

David Croft, a lawyer representing the bank, explained the institution’s stance on the zoning request, which was to try to strike a balance between their initial plan, which was presented to council, and what residents would want.

Croft listed several changes made to the bank’s original plan to accommodate the concerns of the community. The bank switched its request to an EMO district rather than a less-restrictive commercial district and changed the layout of the site based on comments made at the Ward 5 meeting.

Residents, however, said that they still have concerns with the proposed changes to the National Road site, including worries about traffic and safety problems the drive-thru bank might present to children in the neighborhood.

“This three-block radius that we’re talking about is home to over 20 kids under 12. These are 20 healthy active kids who are riding their bikes and running in the very alley where they hope to build this extractive business of a bank,” said resident Jennifer Kellner-Muscar. “Some questions to think about before you make your vote in September … Does Wheeling need another bank? Do you enjoy light pollution in your neighborhood? Are you willing to cave to a business who is so unwilling to consider other, more appropriate venues? Where do you value people over profits?”

Other residents argued that the bank isn’t necessary on the site and that council should respect the recommendation of the Planning Commission on the matter.

City Council’s next meeting, when members could vote on the zone change, is Sept. 3.

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