Members of the Say No to Rezone Political Action Committee held several rallies throughout 2020 against the proposed rezoning of the Beech Brook property.

PEPPER PIKE — The Beech Brook rezoning, known as Issue 34, dominated the headlines in the city during 2020. Although the rezoning issue ultimately failed at the ballot box in November, there has been an ongoing discussion about other properties zoned U-2 for public buildings in the city and amendments to the code.

Pepper Pike resident Bryan Stone of Axiom Development Group terminated his contract to purchase 68-acres from Beech Brook, the nonprofit behavioral health agency, after two years. This surprise decision announced close to the general election came after months of strong opposition from residents, led by the Say No to Rezone Political Action Committee.

The controversy over Beech Brook caused city officials to review their U-2 zoning code. A moratorium on development on U-2 properties has been in place since December of 2019 while the city looks over its zoning code.

A study over the summer by the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University showed potential uses for different properties and the estimated revenues and expenditures for each use. Some property owners have objected to the results of that study.

The Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland have stated that they have concerns with the proposed U-2 zoning amendments. Their leadership team has discussed collaboration with Medina Creative Housing over the last several years to build a residential facility for people with disabilities on part of the property owned by the Ursuline sisters. Beech Brook officials have stated that the U-2 zoning amendments could potentially restrict development and impact the sale of their property.

Pepper Pike last year continued to deal with the aftermath of a gas line explosion at Brainard Circle in November of 2019. Dominion Energy has reimbursed the city for repair work to the circle, including a waterline, road repairs and landscaping. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approved a $1 million settlement agreement in July between the commission and Dominion for the gas line explosion, which was due to a “girth weld failure.”

After a series of major floods in the city in the last few years, Mayor Richard Bain announced a long-term plan to tackle stormwater management issues in Pepper Pike. Mayor Bain and City Engineer Don Sheehy are working with residents on the root cause of flooding, such as roadside ditch maintenance.

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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