PEPPER PIKE — Last week, Mayor Richard Bain and council members were unsure of how Axiom Development Group planned to proceed with its proposal to rezone the Beech Brook property. Now, Axiom’s attorney, Dale Markowitz, says that the rezoning issue will be on the Nov. 3 ballot unless it is certain that council will move forward with an updated application for the spring 2021 ballot.
“Axiom is not planning on withdrawing the petitions unless we know for certain that council will move ahead with a revised application that includes the recommendations made by the city’s Planning Director George Smerigan,” Mr. Markowitz said in a letter to the Times last week. “If that is possible, then we can consider withdrawing the petitions but only if that appears to be a viable option.”
Axiom is under contract to purchase the 66-acre Beech Brook property and has presented plans for a mixed-use district with residential, retail, office and green space. The land currently is zoned for public buildings and would need to be rezoned to a mixed-use district by a vote of the electorate.
There are two ways to get on the ballot and Axiom took both routes. Axiom Principal Bryan Stone had a pending application before the city, which was discussed by the Planning and Zoning Commission last year and referred to City Council for final consideration. Mr. Stone would have needed five affirmative council votes to get the rezoning issue on the fall ballot. In June, he also hired a Columbus company to collect the 368 valid signatures for an initiative petition to put the rezoning issue before city voters on Nov. 3. This would bypass the process before council.
On July 20, Mr. Markowitz withdrew the application pending before the city. On July 21, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections advised Pepper Pike that Axiom received enough signatures to be on the Nov. 3 ballot.
“Axiom has always been committed to working with the city on this matter and has consistently complied with requests made by the mayor, council and the planning commission throughout this process,” Mr. Markowitz wrote in a letter to the Times.
Mr. Stone has been working with the city, including meetings with the planning commission and city council, since February of 2019. Mr. Markowitz wrote in a letter last week that this is the third time that Axiom has delayed its timeline as a sign of good faith and willingness to work with the city.
“At this point, we will continue discussions with the city however, the petition process remains in effect and the rezoning will be on the ballot this November,” according to Mr. Markowitz’s letter to the Times.
At the July 15 council meeting, Mayor Bain and council members were looking for answers to questions that they asked of Mr. Stone in June, including what the city’s financial investment will be, an estimate of city revenue from this project and details on what the mixed-use district would look like. Axiom did not have the requested information. Mr. Markowitz later said that Axiom officials were not informed that they would be making a presentation at that meeting so they were caught off guard when asked to do so.
“We had been told any presentation would be made during the public hearing on July 29 and we had been preparing for that meeting,” according to his letter. The public hearing was changed to a town hall meeting and took place virtually. At the July 22 council meeting, Mayor Bain said that Axiom contacted him to say that they would like to be at the town hall meeting and available for comments.
Edgedale Road resident Cindy Hazelton said that if there is no longer a pending application before the city, then Axiom’s information should either be removed from the city website or the opposing side should be given equal space, such as the Say No to Rezone Political Action Committee. Mayor Bain said “that is an appropriate suggestion.”