AUBURN — Despite starting the year off with an appeals case in court, Auburn Township will come out of 2020 with a new park pavilion and strong community support toward their volunteer fire department.

The township’s Board of Zoning Appeals found itself on the defensive after denying variance requests from Redwood USA, LLC in a January meeting. Bridey Matheney of Thrasher, Dinsmore & Dolan filed the appeal on behalf of the residential developer to the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas on Feb. 12.

Redwood had requested variances on a 31-acre property located on the southeast corner of Ravenna Road (Route 44) and Route 422, which is located in the township’s B-3 and B-4 shopping and business district, to allow the development of 110 attached, single-family units.

In a standing-room only meeting at Adam Hall, residents voiced their opposition to the project in a public hearing, citing major concerns over the impact such a development would have on the township’s well water as well as the overall aesthetic of the community.

The board unanimously denied the variance requests, resulting in an appeals case in Judge David M. Ondrey’s court.

Redwood ended up withdrawing the appeal on March 24, and the case was dismissed March 25.

After securing a $30,000 NatureWorks grant last winter for the construction of a new park pavilion at the Auburn Township Community Park on Munn Road, the trustees were able to embark on the construction of the $150,000 project, which was completed in October.

Project Manager Jim Dixon oversaw the pavilion’s construction, reporting to the trustees throughout the year on the progress of the project, describing it overall as a smooth process in an October meeting.

Residents voiced their support for the Auburn Township Volunteer Fire Department with their approval of the 1.8-mill fire levy on the Nov. 3 ballot.

The president of the department, Mario Monocci, told trustees in a July meeting due to a rise in calls, the department would need a levy to raise more than $330,000 annually to support rising personnel costs and equipment.

In August, the trustees approved putting the levy on the ballot along with a renewal 1-mill road levy, which residents also approved in November.

With the levy’s approval, the department was to be able to hire additional firefighters to help with the increase in back-to-back emergency calls.

The trustees also provided additional support to the fire department with Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds.

Auburn received a total of $306,539 in CARES Act monies, and they encumbered about $98,000 of it with upgrades to the town hall, facility bathrooms, department equipment, video conferencing upgrades, personal protection equipment and cleaning supplies, among others, in November.

They subgranted the remaining approximate $208,000 to the fire department to help in the purchase of an additional $229,667 rescue vehicle. The fire department was to foot the remaining balance of the bill.

Sam Cottrill started reporting for the Times in February 2019 and covers Auburn, Bainbridge, Bentleyville and Chagrin, Kenston, Solon and West Geauga schools. She graduated from Kent State University in 2018 with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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