City to inform Aurorans about mixed-use district ballot issue; residents react to pland-use zoning

by MIKE LESKO | REPORTER Published:

Aurora -- The city plans to send out mailings to help inform residents about a proposed zoning change of about 548 acres around the former Geauga Lake Amusement property, Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin said.

The land would be rezoned to a mixed-use district that would combine residential, office, commercial and entertainment. The issue will appear on the May primary election ballot after City Council approved it Jan. 27.

Womer Benjamin said she would like to spend about $7,500 on the mailings. She said in 2009, the cost of one mailing that the city handled for the Charter Review Commission was about $3,800.

"I think it's a reasonable cost for the city," she said.

City leaders want to rezone the land, which is currently zoned R-4 and R-5 residential, C-1 commercial and I-1 industrial. The concept is people would be able to live, work, shop and play there. The property is listed for sale by Cedar Fair.

Although the land includes about 200 acres in Bainbridge Township, the latter does not need voter approval like Aurora. Bainbridge leaders are on board with the mixed-use proposal, according to Trustee Jeffrey Markley.

The entire property including the water park will be rezoned under this legislation, city officials said, and Cedar Fair wants to retain ownership of the water park.

At a Jan. 13 public hearing, people spoke to city leaders about the mixed-use change.

"The mixed-use language gives the city the best opportunity to revitalize the property in the best possible way," resident Gregg Miller said.

RESIDENT Keara Green said she'd like the area to be called "Downtown Geauga," adding that she hopes to see houses and condos in the area along with shops, parks, bike trails and restaurants.

"The land does not need more shops," resident Karen Gertz said. "I'd like to see a pool, bike paths and a community center."

Resident Sara Case said she moved from Arizona to Aurora, and one thing she misses is a community place to go, adding, "I would like an area where there is somewhere for kids to go and be with their friends."

Resident Pam Mansour said she is concerned the new development will bring pollution and noise.

Aurora Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Laura Holman said the city can move forward in a "collaborative, efficient, flexible, proactive manner."

Chamber president Brad Duguay said he thinks mixed use is "a great opportunity for the city and residents."

Cedar Fair general counsel Duffield Milkie said from the property owners' perspective, it helps them to be able to open up the property to developers and their ideas.

Resident Gary Jancsurak said he is concerned about the various types of businesses that could be developed in the area.

Resident George Mazzaro said there is nowhere in the record that states what is going to happen with the land, adding, "There is no one in the room that can tell you what is going to be there in six years, and that scares me."

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187

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Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC

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