PEPPER PIKE — Mayor Richard Bain told an overflow crowd that the city is financially stable and continues to “flourish” during his annual state of the city address last week.

More than 80 people gathered on April 25 at the Orange Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library to hear Mayor Bain discuss the city’s finances, residential services and development projects.

“For the eighth year in a row under our administration, our finances are stable,” he said. “We continue to focus upon remaining on the path of fiscal responsibility.”

Mayor Bain said that the city spends its dollars carefully and follows responsible five-year plans for sustainable infrastructure. At the end of 2018, the general fund had about $11 million compared to $2 million in 2012, he said. The city has trimmed spending and keeps a plentiful cash reserve, he added.

The mayor spoke about the importance of development in Pepper Pike, which strengthens the city’s finances.

“A monoculture is inherently unstable,” Mayor Bain said. “Biodiversity is where strength is found.”

Upwards of 41 percent of the city’s revenue comes from commercial activity, he said, a surprisingly high number because Pepper Pike is known as a “bedroom community.” Mayor Bain said that the city must protect the residents’ investments in their homes while also attracting new, young families to the community.

New housing developments, such as the Luxe off Cedar Road, offer current residents a place to downsize while remaining in the community. The Luxe is the first dedicated rental opportunity in Pepper Pike, Mayor Bain said. Other residential developments such as Sterling Lakes and Edgewood Trace offer a new floor plan as an option for new residents.

Mayor Bain also discussed commercial development, namely the Beech Brook property. Axiom Development Group is under contract to purchase the 65-acre property with intent to build a town center with a residential and retail district and a stream corridor. The property would need to be rezoned first, and may appear on the ballot this fall.

“It will be an epicenter of future growth, providing a new, strong tax base for the city and school district,” according to Mayor Bain. “It will be designed to blend with and enhance the adjacent areas, including Morgan Park, Landerwood and the Orange City School District.”

The mayor also informed the audience that the city puts a strong emphasis on residential services, and said that he appreciates the tireless work that the service department completes to serve the residents and keep the city operating smoothly.

The city is working to educate the community about recycling, including what items can be recycled and how. Mayor Bain said that recycling is becoming increasingly difficult and costly as the world market for recyclable materials declines. Pepper Pike continues to collect these items and decrease the cost per household to remove solid waste, he said. River Valley Paper Company bins are placed throughout the city to collect paper with proceeds going to the city’s beautification fund for tree planting, he explained.

Mayor Bain also addressed the city’s long-term plan to replace septic tanks with sanitary sewers in some residential areas. After receiving an $840,000 grant from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Pepper Pike is planning to install a sanitary sewer on Gates Mills Boulevard between Lander and Cedar roads. Approximately 62 affected residents would pay an assessment fee annually for 20 years to cover the balance of the project costs. Mayor Bain said that the grant gives land owners a chance to defray the cost of replacing their septic system.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our residents,” he said.

Mayor Bain closed his speech by looking toward a bright future with excellent city services and community events.

Resident Jeanne Gascoigne attended the state of the city address and said that the mayor always gives great speeches.

“He’s personable but professional,” she said. “In his speeches, he gives the bullet points but with personality.”

The annual speech is sponsored by the Pepper Pike Civic League, which also presented the two winners of the scholarship contest with a $1,000 check. Ryan Devine, a junior at University School, and Robert Stefan Miron, a junior at Orange High School, are this year’s scholarship recipients.

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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