Solon voters will decide Nov. 3 Issue 46, a rezoning that would pave the way for a $40 million senior living development adjacent to the Hawthorne Valley Country Club.
The rezoning, which will need to pass in the affected Ward 5 and citywide, would be a new chapter to the zoning code that would create an R-2-A (one and two family residential senior citizen) zoning district for about 32 acres of land adjacent to the Hawthorne Valley Country Club on Aurora Road. The land is currently zoned R-1-D single family residential.
Hawthorne Valley Country Club closed about two years ago and had operated as a private country club.
The proposed development – Hawthorne Golf Estates – would consist of 105 single family residential homes for people 50 and over. The new zoning classification is specifically designed to exclusively permit lower intensity, senior citizen restricted developments comprised of single family detached and/or attached two family residences. Access to the site would be provided via a private street connection to the Cleveland Metroparks Hawthorne Parkway, in accordance with an easement with that entity.
Larry Apple, who represents property owners Fred and Peter Rezepka, said that the city’s electorate should approve the zoning for a number of reasons.
“It provides an opportunity for Solon residents to move to new empty nester housing,” Mr. Apple said, “and stops the out-migration of Solonites who bought houses in the city, lived there for 25-30 years and now want the opportunity to live in maintenance-free housing.”
He added that Solon has little opportunity for that currently.
The other major aspect of the rezoning, Mr. Apple continued, is that it would allow for the preservation of the former golf course of approximately 150 acres as perpetual green space.
This was linked to an ordinance approved by City Council that included a Project Development Agreement and the Declaration of Protective Covenants with Hawthorne Valley County Club and Hawthorne Golf Estates. This agreement ensures that the golf course is kept as perpetual green space or parkland.
This is a legally binding agreement that will forbid any development from taking place on that property,” Mr. Apple explained.
Developers have had conversations with several organizations about the course, including the Cleveland Metroparks, about the potential use of the property as a community park and nature preserve, Mr. Apple said. This is similar to Acacia Reservation in Lyndhurst which the Metroparks created several yeas ago at the former Acacia Country Club. It is also similar to what is being developed in nearby Aurora, Mr. Apple added, with the former Aurora Country Club.
“We are confident an agreement will be reached and the former golf course will be preserved in perpetuity as a community park and an asset,” he said.
While a design has not yet been developed for the houses, they will be a minimum of 1,500 square feet and accommodate a two-car attached garage. They will also be surrounded by 40 percent green space.
The proposed R-2-A zoning restricts development density to four units per acre.
There are also financial benefits to the rezoning, Mr. Apple continued.
Currently, the property produces about $6,000 a year in tax revenue to the community through property taxes. It is anticipated upon completion of the project that revenue of over $1 million will be generated for the community and schools through both income and property taxes.
Mr. Apple also said the development is in accordance with the city’s master plan and is more than 1/3 a mile away from single family homes on Aurora Road and Richmond Road, and therefore will not have an impact on existing homes.
Past public hearings on the project brought out some nearby residents who voiced concerns over their utilities and the effect of the project on such things as water pressure.
Mr. Apple said the developer has been in correspondence with the Cleveland Water Department and forwarded to the city and any neighbors information the shows the water pressure is adequate.
The total cost of the development, including road improvements within the subdivision, and the houses, is estimated at over $40 million.
All of the existing Solon senior housing zoning classifications, such as Carrington Court on Aurora Road or the Vitalia Active Adult Community at the intersection of Kruse Drive and Bainbridge Road, permit much higher intensity type uses including apartments, assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
Mayor Edward H. Kraus said he encourages residents to support Issue 46.
“It’s great for the community and will be a real asset,” Mayor Kraus said. In marketing Solon as a whole, it will help attract people to live and work here, he said.
Mayor Kraus said he has liked the plan right from the beginning. It has less homes than a previously submitted plan and more enhanced green space on the 32 acres plus the preservation of the 150-acre golf course.
The golf course parcel would represent the largest piece of preserved land in the city.
“Those were all new components to the plan,” Mayor Kraus said. “They also added the 50 and older component. That is a plus as well because you won’t get school aged children.”
Instead, the development would attract those people who would normally have had to leave Solon to downsize to the suitable housing they wanted, he said.
“I want to keep those folks in the community,” Mayor Kraus said.
The development would also increase the tax base, Mayor Kraus added, noting that most goes to the school but the city would get a small percentage of the income tax from the people still working.
“We would like to thank the community, the planning commission and City Council for their unanimous support of the development,” Mr. Apple said. “We feel this is a win-win for Solon as it meets a demonstrated need for Solon’s empty nesters, is fiscally responsible and preserves 150 acres of green space in the community.”