PEPPER PIKE — Axiom Development Group introduced its revised plans for the Beech Brook property last week, which include major changes such as eliminating multifamily housing and limiting the permitted uses on the property.
The changes came after Bryan Stone, principal of Axiom Development Group, requested to delay the public hearing in February so he could change the proposal to address concerns voiced by residents.
Axiom is under contract to purchase the 68-acre Beech Brook property at 3737 Lander Road. Beech Brook, a behavioral health agency, plans to consolidate its administrative offices in another location after closing its Pepper Pike residential facility in 2016. Mr. Stone wants to place an issue on the November ballot to rezone the property from institutional to a new mixed-use district.
Mayor Richard Bain said that he was glad to see that the revised ordinance is still an overlay district, meaning that the city would retain control over the final development plan if the rezoning is placed on the ballot and approved.
“I think the reduction of residential density and the limitations on retail that they’re now putting forward are better,” he said on Tuesday. “Ultimately, I think the question is whether or not residents wish to see the property rezoned as a multi-use district rather than maintaining it as a U-2 district.”
Mr. Stone said last week that he plans to continue working with the city. After public hearings, City Council ultimately will vote on whether to put the issue on the Nov. 3 ballot. Mr. Stone also said that due to COVID-19 restrictions that make it difficult to gather in large groups, he may instead pursue an initiative petition by collecting signatures of registered voters in Pepper Pike. Either way, the documentation must be filed with the Cuyahoga County Board of Election by Aug. 3.
“This amended application is a direct reflection of [the residents’] comments,” Mr. Stone said on Monday. “It really is a blended vision of ours and residents that we spoke to and we’re excited about that.”
“The changes appear to reflect the comments of many residents of the city but the changes leave unanswered many important questions that residents raised like traffic, infrastructure and a green space atmosphere that many residents are hoping to achieve with that development,” Councilman Jim Juliano said on Tuesday. “Overall, it looks like a very genuine effort to move forward with a more acceptable approach to the development.”
Mr. Juliano also said that he is not sure of Axiom’s intent behind the amended ordinance. He said that they could have adjusted the proposed legislation for council approval to get on the ballot or this could be used to get the ball rolling on an initiative petition.
There are three main areas on the site plan. Area A is north of Willey Creek, area B is south of the creek and there is a Willey Creek riparian corridor, according to the proposed zoning ordinance. Area A includes single family residential units, townhomes and mixed use buildings with ground floor commercial, office and retail space. A change from the former draft is that now townhomes will have no more than four attached units per building.
Several items in area B were eliminated in this new proposal, including vertically integrated buildings with retail, commercial, institutional, medical, religious, residential and office uses along Lander Road. Now area B only includes a variety of single family attached and detached housing.
The Willey Creek riparian corridor will be preserved as open space. Part of the land surrounding the creek cannot be developed as it is part of the riparian setback, but Mr. Stone said that he wants to go further and preserve more land around the creek. He said that he is working with a land conservancy to potentially use that space for a park with trails.
The site plan includes a new traffic circle on Lander south of the circle with Chagrin Boulevard and a new circle on Chagrin at the entrance to the Morgan Stanley building. Both would be entrances to the new mixed-use district. The site plan also includes two new surface retention ponds near Willey Creek. Although this site plan is not final if the rezoning gets on the ballot and passes, Mr. Stone said that he does not have plans to make major changes.
“If we were to drastically change the site plan it would be a sign of bad faith on our part,” he said. “So, what you’re seeing is our thinking for what we would do with the site.”
Another difference from the original proposal is that the total amount of retail space is capped at 40,000 square feet, which Mr. Stone said would ease the minds of residents who worried that it could look like Pinecrest in Orange Village or Legacy Village in Lyndhurst. In area A, a deli, sandwich shop and fast casual dining could have curbside pickup and outdoor dining options, according to the proposal. Museums, brewpubs, microbreweries, wearing apparel stores and government and research facilities were eliminated from the plan.
Area B is residential and could now include a community building with a maximum size of 6,500 square feet. Restaurants, coffee shops, banks, medical facilities, museums, art galleries, performing arts facilities, institutional and government facilities and professional offices are not permitted in this subarea.
There are also new development standards. The maximum density has been decreased from five dwelling units per acre to four units per acre. There is a provision in the proposal that 50 percent of all housing must be single family detached housing. Now buildings would not exceed 3 ½ stories (40 feet) in height when the former proposal stated that buildings would not exceed 3 stories (45 feet) in height.
Mr. Stone said that drafting a site plan is a “futile exercise” if the proposal is not fully vetted.