Citizens For A Better Norwood

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

City Council has 1st reading of St. Aloysius ordinance

At last night’s City Council meeting, Council President Jane Grote recused herself from presiding over the Public Hearing on St. Aloysius’ proposed school, citing that she had previously spoken in favor of St. Al’s at a Planning Commission meeting. With that, Ward 1 Councilperson Keith Moore took the gavel, and Council President Grote became Norwood resident Grote and again spoke in favor of the school during the Public Hearing. She argued that the “issue is simple” in that Norwood’s zoning does, in fact, allow for a school to be at the Drex Avenue site. Also speaking in favor were a resident who lives on Drex Avenue and Joe Trauth, attorney of St. Aloysius Orphanage.

Speaking against the proposed school were three residents of nearby Glenside Avenue in Ward 4, two of whom want to see the building put to better use. The third Glenside resident identified herself as a nurse with Cincinnati Public Schools familiar with the types of students who enroll at St. Aloysius Orphanage. As a new Norwood homeowner with a new baby, she expressed concerns about residents’ safety.

After the hearing, Councilperson Steve Thornbury made a motion to have the 1st reading (3 readings are required) of the St. Aloysius ordinance, and what followed was a lengthy, sometimes contentious discussion that often revolved around whether or not the City’s zoning of the property does allow for another school to locate in the building that was former Holy Trinity School and the likelihood of the City having to pay for an expensive lawsuit should council vote against the ordinance. When asked about his position on the matter, Law Director Ted Kiser declined to offer one, stating that he did not want to substitute his wisdom for that of the Planning Commission, which voted 2-1 in favor of the school, plus he did not want his views known in the event a lawsuit ensues. Subsequently, Councilperson Victor Schneider, concerned about possible litigation if council doesn’t approve the ordinance, asked that Tim Burke, longtime outside counsel to the City, be invited to state his opinion and advice at the next council meeting on February 24.

For more details, click here for Enquirer reporter Steve Kemme’s account of the meeting. For those who haven’t yet read the Planning Commission’s recommendation with conditions for St. Aloysius, click here.