Stow City Council unanimously passed a text amendment to the zoning code Thursday night that allows auto sales in parcels zoned at C-3 and C-4.
The issue came before council months ago after administrators at the Marhofer Dealership realized they couldn't expand under the city's zoning code.
"Under the zoning code, Marhofer is a non-conforming use and we are not permitted to build or expand," said Marhofer attorney John Slagter. "In fact, under your zoning code, we are not even encouraged to survive."
Slagter went on to say that if the Marhofer building burned down, under the unamended code, Marhofer could not rebuild.
"Passing this amendment doesn't mean we're going to expand," Slagter said. "We're proud of this community and the relationship we've had with it the last 100 years. We're asking you (council) to recognize this business as a legal use."
Opponents of the rezoning, namely residents of Williamson Road, Thorndale Avenue and Hawthorne Avenue, asked council not to pass the amendment because they don't want a parking lot in their backyards.
"If that corner is so compelling to him, he should make it his corporate headquarters," said a Margaret Avenue resident. "Do we really want a megamall autoplex there? Look at Cuyahoga Falls. Is that what we want from this corner?"
Resident Doug Burley agreed.
"We all know the real purpose behind this amendment," Burley said. "This applies not only to that area but to many. This goes against your very own city plan."
However, there were several people in agreement with Marhofer's plans.
"I've seen the many things Marhofer has done for this community," an Adaline Drive resident said. "I can't help but think we need to do everything we can to help this family. They've got a clean record."
A Hawthorne Avenue resident agreed.
"I've lived in Stow for 50 years," she said. "I'm one of the very few families who lived on Thorndale when Marhofer built. Every house on Thorndale, Hawthorne and Margaret has been bought and sold several times. He was there then and they still bought. The low cost of homes is what's going to divide our properties, not Marhofer."