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A community committee is expected to be appointed to consider the terms of a new mixed-use zoning for South Transit Street.

After a public meeting Thursday in City Hall attended by about 30 residents of the area, Alderman Patrick W. Schrader said he and Mayor Michael W. Tucker will choose the panel.

"A mixed use has no definition yet," said W. Kevin Foltz, a Planning Board member. "Let's define it in a way that everyone can live with."

He said that should include residents of streets parallel to South Transit, many of whom said at the meeting they were concerned about what they would see in their back yards if South Transit goes completely commercial.

South Transit Street, which is part of state Route 78, is a four-lane street with five different types of zoning in a stretch of slightly over a mile -- three residential and two business.

Although there are several older, well-kept homes, residents said they've found it impossible to get what they consider fair value if they try to sell.

With the heavy traffic and the surrounding businesses, "it doesn't make it a very pleasant place to live," said Charles Roeser, a South Transit resident.

Jerome Kern, who lives at South Transit and Lincolnshire Drive, said he'd have a hard time getting $80,000 for his home, although neighboring homes in the Lincolnshire cul-de-sac have sold for $125,000 and up.

"As long as we have a fair shake, we could sell," said Kern's wife, Mary. "If you can't do anything, at least lower our taxes."

"You can't give your house away on Transit Street today. It's very hard to sell," said Peter Doherty, who sold a house to make way for a Rite Aid drug store at South Transit and West High streets several years ago.

Schrader said repeatedly he doesn't have a specific zoning in mind and isn't pushing for any particular project. He said he'd like to see the fine homes transformed into professional offices, as has occurred on East Avenue.

"I am not promoting bringing a bulldozer in and bulldozing all the houses. That's not the game plan," Schrader said.

Schrader said traffic studies done for next year's scheduled widening of the street calculate that 35,000 cars a day go through the intersection of South Transit and Lincoln Drive. Carol and Andy Onder have lived there for 37 years.

"It's gotten really bad the last 10 years," Andy Onder said. "I'm always straightening pictures and filling cracks in plaster."

A left-turn lane is to be added at South Transit and Lincoln next year, with the street becoming gradually wider starting at Bridlewood Drive.


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