Following inquiries about a master plan for the city, Mayor Richard Bain said that Pepper Pike is already “pretty built out” and does not require a strategic planner to study only one piece of undeveloped land, which is the Beech Brook property.
South Woodland Road resident Maryanne Lutjen and West Landerwood Road resident Jeanne Gascoigne both spoke at the Aug. 25 City Council meeting supporting a master plan. They said that the city should engage a consultant to develop an overall plan for Pepper Pike, referring to the recent master plan contract between the Village of Gates Mills and CT Consultants.
Mayor Bain said that Gates Mills has large tracts of diverse properties that potentially could be developed, but Pepper Pike is mostly built out with houses. There is a commercial strip along Chagrin Boulevard, he said, with office buildings and retail at Lander Circle. Pepper Pike is also home to the Orange City School District, the Orange Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, Ursuline College and various religious institutions and country clubs.
“I don’t plan on engaging [in] a strategic plan that is going to contemplate knocking down our houses, a strategic plan that’s going to knock down our office buildings,” Mayor Bain said. “The only large, contiguous parcel of land in Pepper Pike that is undeveloped essentially is the Beech Brook property. We’re not going to have a whole strategic plan just so we can study the Beech Brook property. That doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
Other properties besides Beech Brook that are zoned U-2 for public buildings include The Country Club on Lander Road, the Pepper Pike Club on SOM Center Road and the Cleveland Racquet Club on Chagrin Boulevard. Mayor Bain said that the country clubs are “vibrant” and using their land as intended. He said he does not want to create any “misgivings” that the city is going to reconsider how properties are zoned and utilized. The city is doing well as it is currently zoned and utilized, he said.
City officials have plans to address issues in Pepper Pike, Mayor Bain said. One of the city’s challenges is converting septic systems to a sanitary sewer and there are five-year plans in place for that. The city has received grant funding from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District to build a sanitary sewer line on Gates Mills Boulevard and Shaker Boulevard. There are also five-year plans for other infrastructure issues, such as stormwater management and flooding issues.
“The questions that are coming up tonight about the cost of maybe having a master planner like [Ms. Lutjen] suggested, in my opinion, that would be great,” Ms. Gascoigne said. “Something for council to consider so that we have a program for the city and not as things pop up.”
Ms. Lutjen agreed with Ms. Gascoigne, stating that Pepper Pike would benefit from a master plan to determine what the residents are looking for in the next three to five years. Gates Mills paid their consultant $57,500 for master planning services, which Ms. Lutjen said is a reasonable fee.
“We are not without planning in this city. We have a tremendous amount of planning in this city that we self-consciously and conscientiously undertake,” Mayor Bain said. “So, the fact that we don’t have still another outside person now planning again what we are already planning – we plan a lot. The residents of Pepper Pike should feel confident and comfortable that their city government does that.”
Mayor Bain said that he may reach out to Gates Mills Mayor Karen Schneider to hear more about the purpose of that master plan.