Chagrin Falls Village Council approves variances for River Walk Phase II development

By Brian Byrne, Northeast Ohio Media Group

Posted Mar 21, 2013

CHAGRIN FALLS -- Village Council on March 18 unanimously approved variances that will allow for the second phase of the controversial River Walk hillside condominiums on West Orange Street to proceed.

The four variances — also unanimously approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals Feb. 26 — pertain to three single-family homes directly adjacent to the completed three duplex buildings that comprise the completed Phase I. The two homes immediately west of Phase I will be in line with those buildings, with the third facing east.

Developer Robert Vitt had said he would abandon Phase II if he was not granted the variances, which dealt with front yard setback, side yard allowances, a shared driveway and building height.

The village must now approve Vitt’s plans for a retaining wall before the start of Phase II construction, which has been tentatively set for sometime in the spring.

“The village engineer, Tim Lannon with CT Consultants, and our geotechnical consultant, Al Esser with EDP (Consultants), have come to an agreement with the developer’s engineer on the conceptual calculations that will go into the retaining wall design,” village Chief Administrative Officer Ben Himes said.

“The retaining wall will go in prior to construction of the (Phase II) buildings because it holds the slope in place so that the basement excavation can be made. Mr. Vitt cannot physically build the buildings first and then the retaining wall, and he did testify (before council) that that would be his approach.”

Along with extensive questioning regarding Vitt’s intentions for securing the slope, council expressed concerns over configuration of the third, east-facing Phase II home, which has West Orange Street to its side. Council President Steve Patton said he felt the home seemed “jammed” into the property, and made for a less-than-desirable entrance to the village.

“This has always been dubbed the gateway to Chagrin Falls,” he said.

Vitt answered the third home was situated that way — closer to the street and sideways — to accommodate the retaining wall. He said all three units are needed to make the project financially viable, and moving the retention wall back to allow for a bigger setback for the third home would not be cost-effective.

“This is the only configuration that… achieves the minimum standards to build Phase II,” he said.

The River Walk project has resulted in two lawsuits by neighbors claiming damage to their properties resulting from the crumbling hillside. One has been settled out of court, with the other scheduled to go to trial in the fall.

"Chagrin Falls Village Council approves variances for River Walk Phase II development". cleveland.com. Retrieved December 28, 2019.

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