PEPPER PIKE — Axiom Development Group is heading toward a fork in the road. The company continues to collect signatures to get a rezoning issue for the Beech Brook property on the Nov. 3 ballot while also working with City Council to move forward with a pending application.
Meanwhile, a newly released study shows the proposed project would not make traffic in the area worse, Axiom representatives said.
If Axiom works with the city, there must be a public hearing and council must vote to put the rezoning issue on the ballot. If Axiom chooses the initiative petition route, it needs 368 valid signatures to get on the ballot, according to Axiom’s attorney Dale Markowitz of Thrasher, Dinsmore and Dolan.
“Council [met] on June 24. We’ll see if they think they can schedule a public hearing. If they can, then we’ll move ahead,” Mr. Markowitz said last week. “If not, then there is no alternative. We know we’ll get enough signatures. From everything I’ve seen, we’ll have those in early July.”
Axiom is under contract to purchase the 68-acre Beech Brook property, located at 3737 Lander Road, and recently released a site plan for a mixed-use district. Beech Brook plans to consolidate its administrative offices at a smaller location. If the rezoning issue gets on the ballot and passes, the Beech Brook property in addition to New Directions and the Parker/Passov property would be rezoned from a public buildings zone to a mixed-use zone.
According to Axiom’s revised mixed-use ordinance proposal, there would be a Willey Creek corridor and two subareas. Subarea A is north of the creek and could include restaurants, retail stores, housing, governmental and research offices and more. Subarea B is south of the creek and could include housing, parks, a community building and more. The revised ordinance is still an overlay district, so the city would have to approve a final development plan.
“We are not on a time schedule,” Mayor Richard Bain said at the June 17 council meeting. “I think council deserves to have its own careful deliberation of the application.”
Manny and Judi Naft, co-treasurers of the Say No to Rezone political action committee, wrote in an email last week that numerous residents have asked how to retract their signature from the petition. Only the circulator or the signer can cross out their signature. Mr. Markowitz said that a Columbus-based company called Why I See was hired to circulate the petitions.
Law Director Steve Byron said that the city does not have the petitions at this time. When the petitions are filed, the city is not allowed to remove signatures.
“Unless [the resident] can spot the circulators and get access to the petition, the city won’t have the opportunity to do what the resident wants,” he said. “We don’t engage in political activities. It’s outside of the scope of the city’s operations. The request that the city do that is unreasonable and unlawful.”
Mr. Markowitz said that as of Saturday, Axiom has not heard from anyone who wants to withdraw their signature. He said that Principal Bryan Stone has made his phone number available for residents to contact him. Mr. Stone’s phone number is available on pepperpikeneighborhood.com. Mayor Richard Bain referred to Axiom’s actions as a “parallel course.
“That is its right and I don’t seek to denigrate or deprive anyone of its right,” he said. “Sooner or later, they’ve got to pick which way they want to go.”
Alex Czayka, senior vice president for conservation transactions at the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, announced a new partnership with Axiom on June 17. Axiom reached out to the land conservancy to collaborate on conserving land around Willey Creek on the Beech Brook property.
On Monday, he said that they are working on an arrangement that would involve the land conservancy owning the riparian corridor or holding a conservation easement. He clarified that, contrary to local rumors, the conservancy is not pursuing purchasing the Beech Brook property.
“This is something we have been working on for quite some time because our aim is not only to preserve Willey Creek and the approximately 23 acres of greenery around it, but also to provide public access to the area as public green space for the first time in the city’s history,” Mr. Stone said in a press release. “There is currently no public access to this area and we are excited to be able to provide this to our community.”
Mayor Bain shared a traffic study in an email to city residents on June 15. The traffic study was conducted by AECOM, an engineering company. This study was completed in May and AECOM representatives also presented a traffic study at Axiom’s open house on the Beech Brook property in January.
Mr. Markowitz said that the main difference is that this traffic study takes into account the density as shown in the zoning text, such as how many residential units and how many square feet of retail space there will be. The site plan for the Beech Brook property shows a new connecting road between Chagrin Boulevard and Lander Road.
“It shows that we’re not going to make the levels of service worse,” he said of the conditions at Lander Circle.
Pepper Pike city officials have said that it is necessary to upgrade Lander Circle to decrease the wait time on Chagrin and Lander and make it easier to navigate. They have been waiting to redo the traffic circle to see how it could be affected by future development at Beech Brook.
The traffic study shows the results of changing Lander Circle from a traffic circle, which uses stop signs, to a one-or-two lane roundabout with yield signs. The level of service would increase from its current D and F ratings to ratings of A, B and C, Mr. Markowitz said. He added that AECOM completed a second traffic study because the site plan was not complete yet at the open house in January and Axiom officials knew that they were going to make changes to the zoning text.
City Council met Wednesday night to review Axiom’s rezoning application.