Boston Heights Overlook
This is a publication of
Boston Heights Overlook.
Not an official public document by, of or for
the Village of Boston Heights OH.
Results of the 2 November 2005 7PM meeting of the
Board of Zoning Appeals
Boston Heights Zoning Code
Boston Heights Business & Location List
Deputy Solicitor Jason Dodson acted as legal counsel for the Planning Commission and BZA. Zoning Inspector David Himes and Engineer Steve Schreiber also attended.
BZA #1: Lorillard Tobacco Company
5824 Akron-Cleveland Road, Unit F (at Boston Heights Commerce Center)
Appeal of finding of Zoning Inspector (was: Request for conditional use per 1161.03(c) and 1160.03(f) for "office-warehouse" business in a Light Manufacturing District.)
Lorillard Tobacco Company (charter #764165) bills itself as "America's oldest tobacco company". This local office has for some time occupied a part of Boston Heights Commerce Center, at 5824 Akron-Cleveland Road, a multi-tenant facility owned by Kallstrom-Taylor Partnership LLC. This is a 13560sq.ft. office/warehouse building on a pair of lots: 4.26A (parcel #1300194) and 2.85A (parcel #1300465) in the LM Light Manufacturing district.
The company has never had a use and site plan reviewed and approved by the Planning Commission, as required by the Village Zoning Code, and has not shown up for the last several PC meetings. However, the Zoning Inspector determined that, based on the information made available, the company's warehousing and distribution operation did not appear to be a permitted use, and would therefore require a conditional use certificate from the BZA.
Mr. Tom Kelley, the Lorillard district manager, appeared before the Board of Zoning Appeals. After some discussion on the board's requirement for sworn testimony, Mr. Kelley proceeded to describe the company's operation. He stated that the facility was entirely a sales office, with several onsite employees as well as a central office for various salesmen based out of their homes. There was a part of the facility used for temporary storage of paper/cardboard sales promotion materials. However, there was no tobacco product (or other retail product) warehousing or distribution from this facility.
The chairman of the BZA ruled that the company's application could be handled as an appeal of the finding of the Zoning Inspector. On a motion by Dr. Cheung, the BZA unanimously voted a finding that this was a permitted use under the OP Office/Professional zoning district regulations, Section 1157.02(a) et al..Resolution:
BZA Old Business:
Maximum Performance & Handling LLC
5824 Akron-Cleveland Road, Units C,D,E (at Boston Heights Commerce Center)
Compliance with terms of conditional use certificate.
Maximum Performance & Handling LLC
(charter #1225786) is operated
by Mr. Doug Duane.
The company received a Conditional Zoning Certificate for it operation at
last month's BZA meeting, subject to certain requirements that
were reviewed at this meeting:
(1) MPH must immediately supply documentation for the paint facility that demonstrates its compliance with all applicable regulations. The company did submit this information, which was reviewed by Mr. Fetko on the BZA and found sufficient.
(2) MPH must arrange for an inspection by the Village Fire Department, and receive approval therefrom. This inspection had been carried out; the BZA reviewed the fire department report finding fault with a few items and requiring compliance within 30 days. The chairman of the BZA suggested that the BZA review the matter again when approval was obtained.
The chairman of the BZA also noted that Mr. Duane had testified that the separate, unapproved, signage for their painting operation (dba Bodacious Cycle Paintworks) had been removed as it was no longer operating as a separate company -- but that two such signs were still posted, or had since been re-posted. Zoning Inspector David Himes was asked to look into this.
PC #1: Air Power of Ohio
Request for approval of site plan per CO 1151, for an conditional use in a General Business District.(revised agenda) and application for approval of signage, including illuminated sign, at 6607 Chittenden Road.
The property consists of a 4.77A parcel (parcel #1300002), a 4.4A parcel (parcel #1300001), and a 5.4A lot (parcel #1300003) along Pettit Road. It is located in a GB General Business zoning district, just south of Route 8 Self Storage. It includes a building combining a 2,944 sq.ft. office, a 25,000 sq.ft. warehouse/shop, and an additional 15,800 sq.ft. warehouse/shop. Original construction was in 1972, with additions in 1995 and 1998.
Air Power of Ohio (a trade name #1477744 of Apo Holdings Inc. of Cleveland, charter #860674), is in the midst of moving their Canton operation into the former Ohio Roll Form building at 6607 Chittenden Road. Air Power is in the business of sales, service and rental of air compressor and pump equipment. The company received a Conditional Zoning Certificate for a conditional use on this site, at the June 2005 BZA meeting.
The Planning Commission amended its agenda to handle this item second, as a courtesy to Mr. Kelley of Lorillard. Mr. John Best, a representative of Air Power of Ohio, provided a site plan to the Planning Commission, which appeared to be largely in keeping with that discussed in earlier meetings. Most of the PC's attention was taken up by review of the two signs proposed for the building: one of the northwest wall facing west, and the other on the south side. Each is an illuminated sign, about 74x74x8 inches. After some calculations and consulations, the PC found that these were within the limits imposed by the Sign Code (Chapter 1179). Dr. Cheung pointed out, however, that the Building Code Section 1385.09 required that illuminated signs be inspected and approved by the Village's electrical inspector. On a motion by Dr. Cheung, and subject to that requirement, the PC approved both the site plan and signage.Resolution:
PC #2: Lorillard Tobacco Company
5824 Akron-Cleveland Road, Unit F (at Boston Heights Commerce Center)
Request for approval of site plan per CO 1151, for an "office-warehouse" business in a Light Manufacturing District.
Lorillard Tobacco Company (charter #764165) bills itself as "America's oldest tobacco company". This local office, apparently managed by Mr. Tom Kelley, has for some time occupied a part of Boston Heights Commerce Center, at 5824 Akron-Cleveland Road, a multi-tenant facility owned by Kallstrom-Taylor Partnership LLC. This is a 13560sq.ft. office/warehouse building on a pair of lots: 4.26A (parcel #1300194) and 2.85A (parcel #1300465) in the LM Light Manufacturing district.
The PC's use and site plan review was subject to the action of the BZA hearing, above. The Planning Commission amended its agenda to handle this item first, as a courtesy to Mr. Kelley. As the BZA had found a permitted use, the PC reviewed Mr. Kelley's site plan and obtained a few additional details about the operation. Mr. Kelley stated that the company had no external signage at this site; this was confirmed by Zoning Inspector Dave Himes. The site plan was then approved.Resolution:
PC #3: Boston Hills Property Investment LLC
Boston Hills Country Club at Hines Hill Rd. & State Rt. 8.
Proposal for new zoning code to provide for redevelopment of the golf course as a mixed-use PUD with 639 housing units and retail.
Boston Hills Property Investment LLC (charter #1569813), a consortium of developers formed 16 Sep 2005, has proposed redevelopment of the Boston Hills Country Club. This is the 165+ acre golf course at the heart of Boston Heights, at E. Hines Hill Road and State Route 8.
A rendering based of their initial proposal drawing is shown here. This scheme calls for:
The golf course is currently zoned RES Residential; the golf operation is grandfathered, although such use is also now a conditional use in that zoning district. The Boston Heights Zoning Code provides for a minimum residential lot size of 1.5 acres. Of the features in this proposal, only the retail use is allowed for in the current Zoning Code (although not on this property, as currently zoned). There is no provision for development of residential subdivisions with lots under 1.5A, or cluster housing, or multi-family housing, e.g. apartments or townhouses. There were 407 homes in Boston Heights as of Census 2000); only a handful have been built in the Village since then.
Such development would presumably require new provisions in the Zoning Code. The developers' application mentions a PUD: " Planned Unit Development". Note that a similar, but much smaller, cluster home PUD proposal from Omni Realty was reviewed with disfavor by the Planning Commission in 2004.
Three people appeared to present this proposal to the Planning Commission: Mr. John Slagter, an attorney with Buckingham, Doolittle and Burroughs (Cleveland); Mr. Ken Outcalt, director project management for NRP Group; and Mr. Sam Petros of Petros Homes. From the following discussions, it would appear that NRP Group and Petros Homes are principal partners in Boston Hills Property Investment LLC, the nominal applicant.
Mr. Slagter, who spoke first, noted that the developer was requesting an amendment to the zoning code and that this was a "mult-stage process". He described NRP Group as having a "long history of providing quality and diversified product" and that they "work alot with affordable housing products". He described the current use of the property as a golf course on on 167.9 acres of residentially-zoned land, and the developer's proposal to add provision for Planned Unit Development (PUD) to the Village's zoning code. He pointed out that many communities had incorporated such provisions to allow for "mixed use ... development".
Mr. Slagter went on to discuss his view of the application of the zoning code to this property, noting that zoning must "substantially advance a legitimate governmental interest" and allow for "economically feasible" development of property. He pointed out that this property was adjacent to Route 8, and so affected by the traffic on that highway. He cited the Shemo v. Mayfield Heights court case as an example of where traffic flow was not sufficiently considered by the zoning. (Ed.Note: In this case, that city had its zoning overruled by the court in favor of a developer who wanted different zoning. Mr. Slagter himself has written an article on this case: Yes, You Can Fight City Hall – When Zoning Is a 'Regulatory Taking'.)
Mr. Slagter suggested that "rather than going down that road" (presumably: toward litigation) the developers were offering this "appropriate" proposal to preserve the "rural" nature of the community in that it provides "conservation areas" as well as "proper development". He pointed out the business zoning and commercial establishments on the east side of Route 8, and to the south and southeast, and went on to make a case for commercial zoning at this corner of Route 8 and Hines Hill, as well. He stated that the current 1.5A (per unit) residential zoning "clearly creates an issue" with the two legal criteria he had previousy cited: governmental interest and economic feasability. He added that the developers wanted to discuss and "work through these issues" with the Village, and that this large parcel provided a "great opportunity for this community".
Mr. Outcalt of NRP did not speak other than to identify himself. Mr. Slagter introduced the representative from Petros Homes, who identified himself as Sam Petros. Mr. Petros briefly discussed the history of his company as homebuilders in the Cleveland area, and later expanded on this at some length. He stated that "change is happening on this golf course" and that his company is a "better choice as a builder in the market" due to their quality "up-scale products". He cited several area communities they've built in and mentioned several specific projects. He stated that "all communities need some diversification in their housing stock" and "can't have 1-1/2 acres or more for every house", based on a desire of older people for smaller homes, and a desire of younger people for more affordable homes.
Mr. Petros stated that this proposal was the "highest and best use" of this property, and that the tract was too large to build out at 1.5 acres per unit: it would take 20 years for the market to absorb the development. He suggested that larger homes would place more children in the schools and provide more roads to maintain, as well as not providing diversification of the Village's housing stock. He thought that this was the "most developable" tract of land in the Village. At Mr. Bush's request, he reviewed the pricing range for the various types of housing in the proposal, e.g. $400-600K for the single-family homes, $225-400K for the cluster homes (maintenance-free single family), $189-250K for the condominiums.
From the audience, Mark Pennington of 7800 Olde Eight Road mentioned previous "fights" over previous development plans for the golf course. He thought that this proposal was "too big" but might provide a starting point. Bill Hinkle of Boston Mills Road asked Mr. Bush to describe his neighborhood, Ashbrooke West, as to the number of houses and how long it took to build and sell out. Mr. Bush thought there were about 95 to 98 homes on acre-plus lots, with 12 newly-available lots at the Annabelle Lakes development (to the north of Ashbrooke). He recalled the original development was largely (90%) built out in 2-3 years. Laurie Stoddard, also of Ashbrooke West, and Mr. Bush both cited some houses in the neighborhood that lingered on the market. Mr. Bush expressed concern that large homes on the former golf course might encounter market resistance. Mr. Petros suggested this was due to demographics -- the aging of the people in the housing market, especially the local market. He agreed that large houses right on Route 8 would not sell, especially on 1.5 acre lots.
Mary Griffith of Olde 8 Road suggested that smaller lots were detrimental to the interests of the existing residents on larger lots. She expressed concern about the impact on Hudson Schools. Mr. Petros said that other home buyers didn't see it that way, and that the developer did not expect very many children in this development in that it was to be largely marketed to "empty-nesters". He added that families with children tend to buy older homes.
Andy Duff, President of the Hudson City School District, expressed concern about the "huge" number of homes in this proposal, and predicted that it would tax the district. He stated that the district's analyses disagreed with the contention that such developments would not draw large numbers of children; on the contrary, he anticipated 0.8 per home, or about 500 children. In response to a question by Mr. Codrea, he noted that the school district was already 15 years behind in its absorption of district children. He added that the district was only now building additional facilities to eliminate temporary modular classrooms. (Later, Mr. Hinkle pointed out that these facilities were being paid for entirely by City of Hudson taxes, not school district taxes -- and hence, not by Boston Heights taxpayers.)
Dan Zeman of Brandywine Road suggested that with more development "the town gets poorer" due to added maintenance and support costs. He asked what advantage this development had for the Village. Mr. Petros pointed out that Hudson had 50-60 home building permits per year, many more than Boston Heights. He claimed that his homes attracted few children than those of other developers, but thought that perhaps some of the homes could be age-restricted. (Further discussion, prompted by Dave Himes, suggested that age restrictions were not enforceable for rentals.) He thought that this more compact development would require lower support costs, possibly by use of some private roads, and claimed savings in municipal support costs for apartments.
In response to a question about the bottom line on the proposal's unit count, Mr. Petros stated that there was "wiggle room" and subject to further discussion. Mr. Himes confirmed that the claim of "highest and best use" was from the developer's perspective. In response to another question, Mr. Petros suggested that the development group was not quite sure of their plans for the retail component of the proposal, given the oddities of the Route 8 highway upgrade plan. He touted the combination of residences, shopping, and nearby offices.
The nearby Cuyahoga Valley National Park sent two representatives: Jeff Winstel, a planner, and Kevin Skerl, ecologist. Mr. Winstel expressed the Park's concern about such large-scale development on the rim of the Cuyahoga Valley, especially with respect to drainage and flooding issues. He also noted that local populations were not growing but shifting, much of that shift coming to communities near the Park. He added that it was entirely plausble that families with children would seek out smaller homes, not just large colonials. He stated that the Park was not going to make major changes to its streams to accomodate upstream development.
Mr. Skerl presented several computer modeling maps of the Brandywine Creek watershed, demonstrating that this proposal might have a negative impact on the watershed and area streams. These gentlemen suggested that a better approach for this tract would be "Conservation Development Zoning" where larger areas would be maintained in an undeveloped, non-impervious, state -- among other measures. In response to a question from the audience, Mr. Skerl stated that increasing impervious areas would harm the recharge of nearby water wells. Mr. Petros inveyed at length against problems with storm water management, but also suggested that the existing golf course was pretty impervious itself, and also showered with lawn care chemicals.
Mr. Skerl agreed that 1.5 acre lots were not the best use of this land, but that larger areas should be preserved while homes were concentrated on smaller adjacent lots. He said that this kind of approach needed to be embraced by the community in order to be implemented successfully. In response to a question from Mr. Bush, Mr. Winstel pointed out that Conservation Development Zoning was often implemented as an overlay of existing zoning -- as an option modifying existing zoning requirements.
Dr. Cheung pointed out that the Village already requires swale drainage, not storm sewers. He asked how the kind of development urged by the Park would affect the developers' plans in this case. Mr. Petros said that various measures could be taken to reduce development impacts. Dr. Cheung suggested that his question was not really being answered. Mr. Petros replied that the 80-100 homes allowed by current zoning was not economically viable. Dr. Cheung observed that the 100 or so home currently permitted was apparently too few, but that the nearly 700 homes wasn't. Mr. Slagter claimed that Conservation Developments were not usually located next to highways and retail and office zoning. He suggested that the partners would have to sit down and look at the options before committing to any change in their proposal. Dr. Cheung pointed out that they had already proposed 639 housing units. Mr. Petros offered to re-examine the proposal with this evening's commentary in mind, but saw no way to work within the densities permitted by current zoning. Mr. Hinkle pointed out that Oak Point Commons in Hudson (on Boston Mills Road) might be a good example of this Conservation Development approach, noting that it was built adjacent to Omni's office park. Dr. Cheung asked the Park's Mr. Skerl to extend his modeling to include the cases of development under the current zoning, and development under the Conservation Development Zoning approach. He said he would be happy to do this, adding that the traditional large-lot development approach had the disadvantage of breaking up large areas with many driveways and similar structures.
Mr. Bush asked whether the Planning Commission had a formal application before it, and so if any action was required. Solicitor Jason Dodson said that the applicants had in fact asked for a zoning change, and new zoning district text to permit that change. He suggested tabling the matter for the time being, as there was no specific zoning text proposed. Mr. Petros commented that many such large-scale zoning changes stall due to lack of political will, and so end up in court to be decided by parties that are not very familiar with the local issues. Mr. Bush agreed that the gap between the current zoning and this proposal was very wide, and asked the developer to reconsider based on this discussion. Chairman Codrea thought that such a request was outside the purview of the Planning Commission. Mr. Petros stated that he had gotten a lot of feedback this evening. Mr. Codrea proposed that the Village would pass any further information from the Park and the Hudson Schools to the developers.
On a motion from Dr. Cheung, the application was tabled pending further information and possible alternate proposals from the applicant.Resolution:
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