Delays only beginning

Feb 13, 2020

In Chagrin Falls and Pepper Pike, developers and municipal leaders are putting plans on the back burner. We believe it is because residents have voiced their concerns and objections.

Realistically, we see the delays as temporary, but it’s apparent that the voices of citizens resulted in planners taking another look at the projects. That pause could be because planners are waiting for the storm to pass, taking residents’ comments to heart or doing something in between.

In Chagrin Falls, developer Robert Vitt withdrew his proposal to make changes to a historical house and property at 3 West Summit St. Mr. Vitt’s proposals submitted to boards in Chagrin Falls ranged from razing the landmark Bancroft house to moving it to the rear of the property, making way for new townhouses.

Talk of this possible change on Grove Hill, where the house sits, sparked a protest by some residents who displayed signs around the village saying, “Save Grove Hill.” The village Architectural Review Board indicated that Mr. Vitt had not provided enough information addressing a number of issues such as economic feasibility and the impact of new construction on the stability of the steep wall on Grove Hill.

Mr. Vitt, who built luxury townhouses just around the corner on West Orange Street, said he will be back with a new plan. That plan could include demolishing the landmark house that he said was in a state of disrepair when he purchased it. There is a proposal by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy to help buy the land and make it a park. If residents want this, they must work fast to raise the needed cash. The bottom line is that as the landowner, Mr. Vitt does have certain rights.

In Pepper Pike, Mayor Richard Bain postponed a public hearing originally scheduled for tonight on the Beech Brook proposal. The delay gives Bryan Stone of Axiom Development Group more time to fine-tune the company’s plan, according to the mayor.

Axiom is under contract to buy 68 acres of land now owned by Beech Brook, a private behavioral health agency for children that has been located in Pepper Pike for the past nine decades. The agency closed its residential treatment center in 2016 in Pepper Pike with plans to centralize its operation elsewhere. Money from the land sale would go toward the agency’s foundation.

The developer needs a zone change to move forward with the proposal for a town center that would have a variety of uses, including living quarters, shops and offices. Talk of change at the location near Lander Circle has set off a firestorm of opposition from some residents, with some wanting to see an actual, visual plan showing locations of the proposed buildings, housing, trails, green space and other details the developer has shared verbally. That’s a reasonable request.

Mr. Stone said he wants to step back and take into consideration issues residents raised during an open house on the property last month. The developer is right in saying that he needs a plan that residents will support. After all, the ultimate power to get a zone change lies with voters.

Mayor Bain said there is no exact date for the hearing next month. Though a 30-day notice is not required because the hearing was delayed, not cancelled, we are counting on the mayor to give residents ample notice of the new hearing date. Mayor Bain said a question-and-answer period would depend on Axiom’s plan changes. Residents deserve time to ask questions. It may be a long session, but it would be time well spent, especially for a proposal turning pastoral land into a bustling town center.

The pause in plans is only the beginning.

"Delays only beginning". Chagrin Valley Times. Retrieved February 15, 2020.

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