Burton Township Trustees and Burton Village Council are hammering out an agreement to bring a senior living development for 26 acres just west of the village.
Burton Village Law Director Todd Hicks told Burton Village Council members that he anticipated a proposal by early summer from Township Trustees that would allow the acreage now in Burton Township to be annexed into the village.
Developer Dan Demko, who is proposing the 120-unit development known as Hillside Village, has asked that property be annexed to allow the development to proceed.
Mr. Hicks told council that the village had submitted a proposal to township officials and the township submitted a counter proposal last Friday. However, he added that the two sides were “significantly apart” at this time.
He said township officials are agreeing to the annexation, but not until an agreement between the two entities is finalized.
Councilwoman Bonnie Richards noted that while the Demko property will be annexed, the village does not intend to annex the Berkshire School property to the north of the village that is being planned for a new K-12 building adjacent to the Kent State University Geauga campus
She asked Mr. Hicks to give a brief description of a joint economic development district, known as a JEDD.
Mr. Hicks said the district is established by the village and township, which creates a board to oversee the district and determines which services and revenues are shared between the two parties.
Councilman Thomas Blair Sr. said he preferred just working out an agreement between the township and village as opposed to setting up a JEDD. “It’s a much simpler way to go,” he said.
Debbie Palmisano, the village’s arborist, said while the Hillside Village seems “very attractive” she has concerns about “collateral damage” it may bring.
She said those arriving now in Burton see a line of trees that are tapped each year for maple syrup. She said she feared that that tree-lined entrance will be turned into the “Burton auto mile.”
She said while the Hillside development is proposing “green space,” she feared there would also be more trees cut down to create that green space. “Mowed lawns are not trees,” she said.
She asked council to move “carefully” in considering the development.
Mr. Demko said the development may cut 120 to 125 feet into the wooded area of the development. That clearing will be needed to create the 120-unit development. “We’re not going to cut all the trees down,” he said.
He said the trees there were part of a tree farm and the point of a tree farm is to cut them for timber.
He said the property was clear cut around the 1930s and the property has had no trees and then later trees grew back.
Mr. Demko said he did want to leave a swath of trees for the ambiance, which he said provides a draw for those living there.
Mr. Demko said the plans call for the units to be built in phases of 40 units in each phase, all expected to be built over a 12- to 18-month period.
He said studies show there is a “huge need” for seniors who no longer want to maintain their large homes but want to stay in the county. He said an appraiser who recently came to the property told him a senior living complex is the best thing he could do with the property.
Mr. Demko said the school district will be the “biggest winner” in the development as it will provide $2 million in new revenues for the district without adding any students.
Richard Frenchie, a partner in the development and former president of University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center, said there is also an indirect financial benefit to the community from those living in Hillside Village. He said the residents will also be spending their money locally to shop and eat out.
Bill Brooks, a contractor experienced in building memory care and assisted living facilities, said most new senior living facilities have waiting lists before they are actually constructed. He said Hillside Village will begin composing a waiting list as soon as the deal is worked out between the township and village.
Ms. Palmisano asked whether developers have plans to sell a portion of the property to allow for an expansion of Preston Superstore, an auto dealership just to the east of Hillside Village. She said she believed the ambiance Mr. Demko seeks could be lost if that happens.
Mr. Demko said the dealership brings 150 jobs to the area and those employees pay the village’s 1 percent income tax. “To lose him would be a huge negative impact,” he said.