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Business seeking to build family fun center in Aurora challenges zoning

by KEN LAHMERS | EDITOR Published: August 17, 2016 1:00 AM

Ravenna -- ABR Management LLC, a firm which in 2015 sought a conditional zoning certificate to build a family fun center across from Aurora Farms Premium Outlets, has filed a zoning complaint in Portage County Common Pleas Court.

The Pepper Pike company filed its complaint for declaratory judgment and other relief on July 18 with Clerk of Courts Jill Fankhauser after an earlier administrative appeal was dismissed.

Attorney Kenneth J. Fisher is representing ARB Management. He declined to comment on the complaint.

The city's planning commission unanimously denied the CZC in November 2015, and City Council upheld the decision a month later.

After Council's Aug. 8 meeting, City Law Director Dean DePiero met in executive session with Council to discuss the complaint. He told Council in open session that the city plans to "vigorously defend our zoning in the courts."

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ABR Management's principals Yuri and Elena Abramovich had proposed building a 23,585-square-foot facility worth $5.5 million on 4.3 acres formerly owned by the Aurora school district.

The center would have contained arcade games, a rope course, laser tag, rock-climbing wall, a soft playground, bumper cars, a cafe and party rooms.

The land is zoned O-1 office use, and the planning panel ruled the proposed facility was more comparable to a party center, which is conditionally permitted only in a C-1 or C-2 commercial district.

ABR's attorney and consultant argued the proposed fun center would be comparable to a racquet / health / recreation club, which is conditionally permitted under O-1 zoning.

During the planning commission's discussions, many residents living near the property cited concerns about the proposed facility's closeness to Miller and Leighton schools and the potential to cause more traffic congestion.

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"THE CONCEPT IS A good idea, but not in this location," Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin told panelists prior to their ruling. "The proposal is not consistent with the zoning for that land."

In its court complaint, ABR claims the property cannot be viably developed as currently zoned, and the zoning renders the property worthless for any economically viable purpose.

The complaint also claims the present zoning is invalid under the Ohio and U.S. Constitutions.

As for relief, ARB asks the court to direct the city to rezone the property in a constitutional manner within 60 days of judgment so the firm can use it for an economically viable purpose.

If the court does not order the city to do that, ARB asks the court to declare that the company can use and develop the property for purposes under C-1 shopping district zoning.

ABR asks for the amount of monetary compensation to be determined by a jury at trial. The complaint also seeks awarding of costs and reasonable attorneys' fees to ABR, plus "such other relief and declaration of rights as may be required."

Email: klahmers@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4188


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