PEPPER PIKE — Rezoning the Beech Brook property near Lander Circle will not be on the November ballot after Pepper Pike council members sought more information about the proposal for a mixed-use district. Mayor Richard Bain said he came to a consensus with Bryan Stone and Steve Bittence of Axiom Development Group to spend more time evaluating economic, market and traffic studies before moving forward with a rezoning request.

“It’s more important to do it right than do it fast,” Mayor Bain said.

Axiom is under contract to purchase the 65-acre property that currently houses the remaining services of Beech Brook, a behavioral health agency. The Planning and Zoning Commission discussed the possibility for a town center on that property in February, and council heard Axiom’s proposal at the April 24 meeting. If the town center proposal were to move forward, the property would have to be rezoned, which requires a vote of city residents. It is currently zoned U-2 for public buildings, which only allows for schools, churches, libraries and other such structures.

At the April meeting, council had many questions for the developers, such as the effect that a town center with retail, single family homes, townhouses and apartments would have on the city. The mayor and council members discussed how this would impact traffic and whether single family homes or a mixed-use district is more beneficial to Pepper Pike economically.

Mayor Bain emphasized that the developers agree with the city on the need to slow down the process for rezoning and support a public-private partnership.

“I think they recognize that for them to succeed in the way that they hope to succeed with their development, they need to have a longer horizon on this,” he said.

The developers are now looking at placing the rezoning issue on the March 2020 primary ballot which has a Dec. 11 filing deadline, according to Law Director Steve Byron. Council’s ordinance to put the rezoning before voters would have to go through three required readings in September, October and November meetings. Therefore, Mr. Byron said that November is the deadline for council to take action on the ordinance.

Mr. Stone said that Axiom is working in a positive manner with the city to move forward with rezoning the property.

“We received a lot of very positive feedback from city council during and following our last meeting,” he wrote in an email to the Times. “We have said from the beginning that we firmly believe in true collaboration and consensus building so that we can create a plan that works for everyone.”

Councilman Scott Newell said he is more comfortable taking time to study the proposal and the delay is a good decision. Council members were “in the dark” at the April meeting in regard to details of the town center proposal, he added.

The most important matter to consider, according to Councilman Jim LeMay, is whether a mixed-use district is the best option for Pepper Pike. Village officials have yet to consider other options, he said, such as turning the Beech Brook property into a single family residential district.

Councilman Bob Freed said that council needs to see basic design plans for what the town center will look like. Otherwise, he said, council would not want to approve something without all of the information.

Mayor Bain encouraged all council members to attend the planning commission meetings as they discuss rezoning the Beech Brook property. The commission will make a recommendation before the ordinance comes before council. The mayor wants council members to follow along early in this process rather than starting a new conversation after the planning commission has already fleshed out details of the proposal.

Beech Brook, which has several locations, streamlined its operation which resulted in its decision to close the Pepper Pike facility.

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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