Whitehall City Council members at their Feb. 18 meeting approved the rezoning for the former Swimland site at South Hamilton and Etna roads, clearing the way for the construction of apartments.
Development Director Zach Woodruff told council members that while the city is always seeking to increase the number of owner-occupied residences in the city, the project meets another city goal: to improve the quality of the city's housing stock.
Homeport, a nonprofit organization that provides housing to senior citizens, is expected to purchase the 4.8-acre parcel from the city for $300,000 -- the same price the city recently paid to purchase the land from the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
The city is assisting Homeport in obtaining federal tax credits for construction of the first phase of the development to be known as Hamilton Village.
The first phase will include 68 units in a three-story building, Woodruff said.
It would be the second Homeport campus in Whitehall, following Eastway Village, 4237 E. Broad St.
"The building will feature a mix of stone, brick and a variety of building material, (and) we think it will be a great showcase and entrance to (John Bishop Park)," Woodruff said.
Woodruff said it is difficult to find developments that meet all the city's criteria, such as increasing owner-occupancy residences and improving housing stock, but "this hits one of them." He said it also gives Whitehall seniors who no longer want to take care of a single-family residence an opportunity to remain in Whitehall at a high-quality apartment development.
Also at last week's meeting, council members unanimously adopted an emergency ordinance, after its first and only reading, amending the city's codified ordinances by repealing sections of the city code referring to the prohibition of carrying firearms in public areas.
City Attorney Mike Shannon said the repealed language was first enacted in the early 1970s and referred to the ability of the police chief to issue permits upon application and also listed definitions for deadly weapons.
Shannon said he was not aware of signs posted in city parks or other public areas but said Ohio law allows those with permits to carry firearms in public areas. Council's action Feb. 18 aligned the city code with Ohio law.
Private-property owners, also as state law provides, reserve the right to prohibit the carrying of firearms, Shannon said.