Ice rink approved despite heated opposition

AJ Glowacki, center, looks down at his notes Monday during a Lincoln Township Planning Comission meeting for a proposed enclosed ice rink. Glowacki got the special use permit he needed for the development. (Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

AJ Glowacki, center, looks down at his notes Monday during a Lincoln Township Planning Comission meeting for a proposed enclosed ice rink. Glowacki got the special use permit he needed for the development. (Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

STEVENSVILLE — Several residents expressed their disapproval to the Lincoln Township Planning Commission’s decision Monday night to approve the plan for an enclosed ice rink at the corner of Cleveland Avenue and Glenlord Road.

Things got dicey when planners voted to give developer AJ Glowacki a special use permit.

Residents adjacent to the site asked what good the ice rink would have on a residential neighborhood. At one point during the meeting, a man walked out in anger saying he should “come back with an AK-47.”

The meeting continued, along with a police presence at the door, as planners went through the ordinance and added 16 conditions to the permit that Glowacki must follow.

Some of the conditions include: additional screening and landscaping to mitigate lighting, a cap on the hours of operations, and the moving of the Glenlord Avenue entryway.

The entry was moved further east from the intersection of Glenlord and Cleveland, to line up with Kendall Drive on the north side of the property.

Mike Freehling, planning commission chairman, said Glowacki also eliminated the second entryway along Cleveland Avenue. The site is in a low-density residential use district on the southeast corner of the intersection.

Because Glowacki sought a special use permit, the township’s Board of Trustees will not weigh in on the matter.

Been here before

Planners first postponed their decision after a lengthy public hearing in May. During the hearing, nearly 30 people expressed statements of opposition and support. Opponents feel an ice rink will increase traffic and lower property values.

Freehling said the permit required a longer look because planners were trying to address residents’ concerns. However, planners could not find sufficient data to suggest an ice rink in a residential neighborhood would have “a negative impact.”

“I think we (answered their questions) to the best of our ability,” Freehling said after the meeting. “They may not think that, but we had a tough job tonight.”

More than 50 people attended Monday’s meeting. Many scoffed at the reasons planners stated for approving the permit for the 10-acre site. Others nodded in silent agreement.

“It’s going to draw people in from metropolitan areas,” Freehling said. “In addition to the residents, we have to consider the economic welfare of the community. Any time you bring more people in, they’re going to spend money at gas stations, restaurants and hotels.”

Glowacki said the next step will be for his architect to meet with civil engineers and work with the building department. Depending on site approval, Glowacki said he hopes for the enclosed rink to be built by early 2017. The facility will be between 35,000 and 40,000 square feet.

Glowacki said while it was hard to listen to the backlash his project created, he understands their frustration.

“It’s an emotional thing for a lot of people, whether you are for or against it. They have a right to speak their mind,” Glowacki said. “It’s relieving now, but I’ll be a lot happier when we break ground.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on June 7, 2016)

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