Decision on turning Aurora Golf Clubhouse into party center delayed pending traffic study

by KEN LAHMERS | EDITOR Published:

Aurora -- The city's planning commission will wait at least another week to decide whether to recommend to City Council that a conditional zoning certificate should be granted to Aurora Events LLC to turn the former Aurora Golf Club clubhouse into a party center.

At its Feb. 6 meeting, the panel reviewed a list of criteria it must consider when deciding whether to favor a CZC. More than a dozen people who live near the clubhouse attended.

The panel is awaiting an analysis from Aurora Events LLC of how much traffic the proposed party center could generate. That analysis could be completed by the Feb. 20 meeting.

Aurora Events LLC also proposes to operate a funeral chapel in a portion of the former clubhouse. That is a permitted use in a C-1 commercial district and does not require a CZC.

Aurora Events LLC partner Thomas Steinbauer, who also owns a funeral home in Solon, again said he believes the proposed uses are something the Aurora community needs.

He said he plans to have landscaping and improved lighting done around the building, has no plans to increase the parking area and plans to store nothing hazardous on the property or in the building.

He emphasized there would be no embalming done at the site. That service would continue to be done at the Solon location.

Steinbauer said the party center would host events such as wedding receptions, fundraisers and special parties, and some events could continue until midnight.

Addressing citizen concerns about noise, he said although doors to the patio could be open, live bands only would play inside the building. He said weddings could take place outside.

He added he plans no outside loudspeakers or excessive lighting. He said special events likely would not take place more frequently than twice a week.

He said the operators could impose a 9 p.m. limit on any outside activities, much like Barrington Golf Club does at its clubhouse.

RESIDENT Scott Able said he knows that several noise complaints were phoned in to police over the years, but Planning-Zoning-Building Director Rich Wehrenberg said that police records show only one complaint was logged since 1999.

A handful of residents argued that contrary to Steinbauer's belief, the proposed uses are not consistent with the past uses.

"Night events are completely different than golf course events," said Barb Able. Rob Quaranto agreed with her, saying the proposed uses "are a significant change." He feared large events would cause traffic tieups at the intersection of Trails End and New Hudson Road.

Randy Cicen said the proposed uses "do not represent what was promised when [Aurora Recreation LLC] was seeking rezoning of the property" a couple of years ago.

Some residents cited fliers during the rezoning campaign that promised a "community center ... for free." They claimed the citizens were mislead on what might go into the clubhouse.

City legal counsel Tom Reitz explained the city never supported a free recreation center or anything similar, and all the fliers which were circulated came from an entity other than the city.

Wehrenberg noted that if a business does not comply with the conditions spelled out in a conditional zoning certificate -- such as if noise becomes an ongoing problem -- that the CZC can be revoked.

City Council President George Horvat said he would be willing to sit down with Steinbauer, Wehrenberg and concerned residents to discuss the issue and "reach a common ground" before the planning panel votes on the CZC.

The next planning commission session will be Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.

Email: klahmers@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4189

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