GATES MILLS — Council members talked strategy for how to lure people interested in buying real estate to the village.

Mayor Karen Schneider said that council needs to look into how to draw buyers to Gates Mills.

“We have to take a realistic view that the houses that are selling are on the mid- to-lower end of things and not the bigger, hopefully nicer houses,” she said.

Mayor Schneider said that she is unsure about the upkeep inside of some of the older homes, but that may be the reason that they are not selling. She suggested re-examining acreage zoning and learning more about the housing stock in Gates Mills.

“Maybe we have to look at giving more variances for houses that are going up that aren’t as big,” she said. “Maybe the fact that we have 5-acre zoning is not in the best interest of attracting starter homes.”

Gates Mills zoning requires at least 5 acres for a newly created lot.

Councilwoman Nancy Sogg suggested that council look into the top selling homes in the region including the size and age of the structures.

“It can’t just be our problem,” Ms. Sogg said. “Lots of communities must have older homes that aren’t in the best shape. Some people look at that as a fixer upper.”

Ms. Sogg also noted that some people want a McMansion, a term used to describe a mass-produced house that is built with subpar materials and little original craftsmanship.

Mayor Schneider added that people looking for homes now want them new and finished, not fixer-uppers. Councilman Jay “Chip” AuWerter said that the village has restrictive terms on their historic district, which may also hinder newcomers looking to move in.

“We may be tying our own hands,” he said.

Council President Pro Tem Mary Reynolds said that the size of the lots may be bigger than what some people are looking for.

“There isn’t a market for it. But we can appreciate that that’s the dynamic that is going on in the real estate market today and how we are going to address that to the point of at least suggesting going back to 2.5 acres,” Mrs. Reynolds said. “That would open the window of discussion and at least allow someone to build a smaller home.”

In other matters, council members learned that fire Chief Tom Robinson addressed a seminar on safety in Columbus held by the National Fire Protection Association and the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s office. Chief Robinson represented one of two departments that were chosen to speak at the conference. He said that the Gates Mills fire department was chosen due to its successful smoke detector and home monitoring programs.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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