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Sandusky gardening business withdraws plans for foreign worker housing

This comes after neighbors petitioned against the rezoning of the proposed property
Published: Mar. 24, 2021 at 8:49 PM EDT
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SANDUSKY, Ohio (WTVG) - Nearly three years since special agents with Homeland Security arrested more than 100 suspected illegal immigrants at Corso’s Flower and Garden Center in Sandusky, that same business was hoping to rezone a church building for housing migrant workers.

Moments before a City Council meeting, one of the business’s owners, Chad Corso, said they’re withdrawing their application.

The planned proposal outlined how the former St. Paul Lutheran Church at 2211 Mills St. in Sandusky would be renovated into dormitory housing for 160 people, including 16 college interns.

In the planning commission’s agenda, owners of Corsos explained how the company they use to hire people, Manzana, does background checks through the government’s H-2A visa program for foreign agricultural workers.

Meanwhile, the residents near the old church have been collecting signatures for weeks, in the hopes their local officials would hear their concerns. Especially after the raid of the business back in June 2018, residents are still on edge.

“When the migrant workers ended up in the neighborhood next door and the ICE agents and border patrol agents with guns drawn retrieved these people in a neighborhood of children, it just doesn’t seem like a fit for our neighborhood here,” says Charles Herzog, who contacted 13abc before the scheduled planning commission meeting tonight. “We’re a close-knit neighborhood here, and I don’t know why they would want to double our population in their neighborhood without us being able to speak.”

He and his neighbors attended an open house at the church to hear about the initial plans for the building but were not able to speak out about their concerns during the meeting,

“We’d like to be able to, with these types of changes in the future to physically be there and speak publicly,” adds Matt Ames.

“I’ve been here 14 years, and I do not like what they’re doing. If he tells me I do not have the right to tell him what to do with my house, he’s crazy,” remarks neighbor Charlie Baker.

The owners of Corsos said more education and planning is needed for the business, reserving their right to resubmit plans for the property, or possibly another location, at a later time.

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