GATES MILLS — Council is no longer considering changing the zoning code to accommodate a proposed cluster housing development on Chagrin River Road, according to council members. Councilwoman Sandra Turner said that council decided not to move forward with the plan, which was discussed at a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting and a council session both earlier this month.
“The discussion about a cluster development revealed a variety of opinions on council and so that request is not moving forward,” she said in an interview on Tuesday.
But Councilman Lawrence Frankel said that he was not aware of anyone ending discussions on the proposed development and thought it remained an open-ended issue.
“My understanding was that no decision was made and I haven’t heard anything different,” he said.
Los Angeles resident and northeast Ohio native Nick Lemmo purchased 16.5 acres of undeveloped land on Chagrin River Road in December, and presented a proposal for 16 houses on that property for people who are looking to downsize from a larger home. This plan would violate the village’s current zoning code, which requires 5 acres per residence. Many residents attended the planning commission and council meetings voicing their objections.
The Gates Mills Residents for Responsible Village Development, a group of concerned citizens who have expressed their opposition to the proposal, met on April 15 at the Gates Mills Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, according to Holly Mathews, a member of the group. Dr. Turner and Councilman Ed Welsh attended the meeting. Ms. Mathews said that Dr. Turner was invited by a resident and Mr. Welsh signed up for the group’s email communications, so he received notice of the meeting.
At that citizens meeting, Dr. Turner informed the residents that council would not move forward with the proposed housing development and the related request for a change to the zoning code. According to Ms. Mathews, the residents learned from Dr. Turner that most council members had no interest in moving forward with the plan.
Mayor Karen Schneider declined to comment when contacted on Tuesday.
Dr. Turner said that the village may develop a master plan to include the residents in the discussion on how the village may or may not be developed in the future.
“The prudent thing to do was to continue the dialogue and include community residents,” she said. “The continuation of the discussion about zoning will take place in the community. What came out of the council discussion was that we needed more input from a broader community before considering a change to zoning.”
Mr. Frankel said that he plans to write a letter to the planning commission because he wants to support the ordinance that is already in place, which would not allow 16 houses on 16.5 acres.
Councilman Jay “Chip” AuWerter said that council members see a need for a master plan. He explained that after the April council meeting, members had a “sense” that the proposal would not move forward.
“It’s better to do a master plan and see the needs from that process,” he said.
Various members of council said that there was not an official vote in this matter and that council has not held an official meeting since the regularly scheduled April 9 meeting.
Mr. Welsh, the chairman of the Cemetery Committee, said that he is against the housing development that was proposed because he wants to expand the North Cemetery toward the properties that Mr. Lemmo owns.
“Some council members say it’s not their duty to provide lots in the cemetery for residents, but it’s part of the village’s obligation to let people stay here indefinitely,” he said.
Mayor Schneider said that she is waiting on a response from Mr. Lemmo regarding council’s apparent sentiment. The next council meeting is May 14 at 6 p.m.