PEPPER PIKE — Cole Gagnon, director of people for OKW Architects, appeared before the Planning and Zoning Commission to give an update on a site development plan for the Country Club. The commission approved the site development plan, but Mayor Richard Bain and a neighbor on Lander Road requested additional screening through landscaping on another part of the property.

At a March 1 meeting, Ms. Gagnon said that the club is planning to relocate and upgrade the paddle ball warming house and four paddle courts, in addition to providing two new pickleball courts. This would create a racquet facility near the existing tennis courts on the southern edge of the property. The single-story building will have a pitched roof in a similar style to the clubhouse.

Between the racquet building and existing tennis courts, there will be an area for a gas fire pit and seating. There will be 34 additional parking spaces west of the racquet facility. An arborist recommended that two clusters of trees be removed, and several trees along the southern property line. Ms. Gagnon said that there will be low shrubs and perennials around the building and courts.

Mayor Bain said that residents have noticed less landscaping along Lander Road recently and asked the club to include more plantings since plans already call for adding trees on the property as part of this site development plan.

“The Country Club has always been just a beautiful element in the city of Pepper Pike. It has always been regarded as just very classic in its architecture and the way the grounds have been maintained. It was very much appreciated in the community,” Mayor Bain said on Monday. “There’s been a lot of distress that I’ve heard about in the community regarding particularly the removal of trees surrounding that parking lot we were talking about earlier.”

He said that the vegetation helped to hide the parking lot from passers-by on Lander and screened the commercial operation, which is adjacent to a residential neighborhood. Mayor Bain said that community members were upset about the removal of trees but understood that it may have been due to recent storm damage.

“But I would simply impress on the club that although it obviously exists for the benefit of its membership, it also exists as a member of the community, which I know it’s aware of and sensitive to,” he said. “To the extent that larger diameter trees and more robust vegetation can be planted in and around places like that parking area, I think it would be greatly appreciated and build goodwill in the community.”

General Manager of The Country Club Eli Edgerly said that the club has the same goals and wants community members to enjoy its beauty. He said that some bushes were cut back along Lander and trees along the main entrance drive were removed due to storm damage, which he described as an “eyesore.” There is currently a mound of soil that blocks a view of the parking lot and there are plans to add spruce trees to create a barrier, Mr. Edgerly said.

Lander Road resident Gunes Raack said that she has lived across the street from the club for 10 years. She said that she is glad to hear that the club will add new plantings but noted frustration with bushes that were removed in front of the parking lot, leading to light pollution in her home.

Mr. Edgerly said that the club does not want to be a “nuisance” to its neighbors. Mayor Bain said that he is looking for a commitment from the club to plant more vegetation by the parking lot. City Planner George Smerigan said that trees would be too tall to block car headlights, so shrubs would be ideal.

“I’d be happy to plant shrubs in that space if it’s going to help the issue with the parking lot lighting,” Mr. Edgerly said. “I want to be supportive of what our neighbor’s complaint is here.”

He said that the club plans to add more trees and vegetation along the entrance drive and on Lander.

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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