Aurora plans to hold off on variance notifications process changes

by KEN LAHMERS | EDITOR Published:

Aurora -- A change in the way the city notifies residents near where a variance is being sought from the board of zoning appeals is not likely in the near future.

City Law Director Dean DePiero told the planning commission June 18 that in light of possible future development on former Geauga Lake Park land, city officials have decided to hold off making any changes in the notification process.

Several months ago, Ward 1 Councilman Jim Vaca approached the planning commission requesting that the process be changed, saying the city could save money by limiting the number of people notified.

Under current policy, the city sends out notices to all residents within 750 feet of a requested variance. Those residents then can submit comments favoring or opposing the variance.

At last week's meeting, Vaca said a recent variance request in the Geauga Lake area required 168 notices to be sent because the neighborhood is so densely populated.

"That seems like overkill," he noted. "It's a lot of money wasted on paper, postage and manpower to send out that many notices. I favor cutting it to a few dozen."

Vaca previously had suggested cutting the distance for notification to perhaps 350 feet. "In the recent Geauga Lake case, that would have meant 36 notifications would have been sent instead of 168," he said.

Planning panel chairman Kathi Grandillo said in light of future development of the Geauga Lake Park land, for which voters in May approved establishing a mixed-use zoning district, there could be a lot of variance requests coming in and it would be best to hold off on changing the notification process.

Vaca claimed new development on the former amusement park property shouldn't deter city officials from moving ahead on changing the process.

However, Grandillo said when development at the site starts, there might be a lot of Geauga Lake neighborhood residents who want to be informed about variance requests and want to attend meetings to comment on them.

One of Vaca's suggestions is to treat notifications differently if they involve commercial or residential projects.

"If it's a larger commercial project, we could keep the 750-foot standard, but if it's a small residential project -- like someone wanting a variance to put up a small shed on a lot -- we could decrease the distance," he suggested.

Panelists Pete French and Dennis Kennedy said they favor exploring the possibility of having separate notification guidelines for commercial and residential projects.

Email: klahmers@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4189

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