Two candidates challenging incumbents this fall for Solon City Council seats spoke out last week about a mixed-use district proposed for the former Liberty Ford site on Aurora Road and the surrounding area.
City Council opened a public hearing on the matter, and Ward 3 candidate John T. Scott and Ward 5 candidate David A. Vitale addressed the dais as part of the overall discussion.
“This is something that has been lacking in the city for a number of years,” said Mr. Scott, who is challenging incumbent Jeremy A. Zelwin in November. But Mr. Scott said he has concerns about the density.
“We need to be careful how many units you allow,” Mr. Scott said. “That should be reviewed before the legislation is done.
“I wanted to make sure everyone thought about these things and we communicate it to the residents,” he added.
The residential component of the plan, which cannot occupy in excess of 33 percent of the planning area, nor exceed a maximum of 200 units, met opposition from Michael Herrick, son of Liberty Ford founder Jim Herrick and primary property owner in the area.
In addition, Mr. Scott asked what impact on the schools would result from this type of development. “When we built Signature 1 and 2, (it was) said it was gated and most kids will go to private school. That was not the case.
“People will send kids to the schools,” Mr. Scott said. “We need to talk to the schools.”
Mayor Edward H. Kraus said the city had a meeting with Solon School Superintendent Joseph V. Regano and 150-200 units were discussed. But it was a private meeting so he can’t discuss things at length, he said.
“We will keep them involved every step of the way,” Mayor Kraus said.
Solon City School District officials asked for data about residents that could live at the Pinecrest development that opened last year in Orange Village.
There were no children attending the schools from that development, Mayor Kraus said, “but ours could be different.
“We don’t want to burden our schools with a sudden influx,” added Angee Shaker, director of marketing and business development. Most of the families living at Pinecrest are empty nesters and millennials, Ms. Shaker said.
Mr. Vitale, who is running against Councilwoman Nancy E. Meany and newcomer Peter Shanes, said he does not see residential living units fitting into that area on Aurora Road.
“The answer is to stick with commercial zoning for that area,” he said. Mr. Vitale said voters have opposed other projects with residential areas such as the Fountains of Solon luxury apartments that were proposed for Solon Road and a proposed winery and residential area for a development on Bainbridge Road.
Mayor Kraus said those were the wrong sites for that type of use.
“This is a good site,” Mayor Kraus said. “Residents are clamoring for development.
“As we move closer and speak to more developers, obviously they have to have residential as part of this component. You won’t get a developer that will just want commercial use. Living has to be a part of it.
“There could be a potential of affecting the schools, yes,” the mayor added, whether it’s apartments, town homes or condominiums.
“The impact on the school system has to be taken into consideration,” Mr. Vitale said. “The answer is commercial zoning across the board.
“The mixed use with residential doesn’t make much sense to me,” he said.