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Pictured is an illustration of Industrial Commercial Properties’ original design for the entrance of the soon-to-be Geauga Lake District, located off Aurora Road in Bainbridge. The boulevard entrance design originally included a sign incorporating a replica of the Big Dipper, as depicted above, from the Geauga Lake Amusement Park located in the center median of the roadway. Geauga County road standards do not allow center median structures without variances, so the Solon developers have decided to pursue an alternative design for the entrance of the property.

BAINBRIDGE — Originally seeking a potential variance to county road standards for the boulevard entrance to the Geauga Lake District, Industrial Commercial Properties may continue with different plans for the soon-to-be entrance of the property.

Bainbridge Trustees met in a special meeting Tuesday night for a closed-door discussion on the matter surrounding a structure originally planned for the preliminary design of the boulevard entrance into the district, once home to the Geauga Lake Amusement Park before it closed in 2007.

According to Industrial Commercial Properties’, or ICP, preliminary illustrations of the Geauga Lake District, in the center median of the boulevard, which is right off Aurora Road (Route 43), would be a replica of the Big Dipper’s mini hills at the entrance incorporated into a Geauga Lake District sign.

Trustee Lorrie Benza said after the meeting that such a structure is not currently allowed under Geauga County road standards and ICP had sought the township’s support to come before the county for a variance.

Had the township decided to support the variance and the county approved it, then ICP and the township would then have to enter into a right-of-way agreement, she explained. This would establish that the maintenance of the sign would be the responsibility of the developer and indemnify and hold the township harmless.

“In other words, if somebody would hit that replica and it comes tumbling down, No. 1, hopefully nobody gets hurt, right? But No. 2, who’s going to rebuild it?” she said, explaining it would be ICP’s sole responsibility. “There are just a number of maintenance issues on their end that they had to consider from a practical standpoint.”

She said ICP sent the trustees an email Tuesday morning explaining that they would instead consider constructing signage along the sides of the road as opposed to the center median.

“[There was] essentially no need for the trustees to offer input or a position on a variance because the developer will build the road in conformity with county standards,” Mrs. Benza said, explaining that ICP decided the center road median of the Big Dipper “is not necessary to achieve the aesthetic and nostalgic signage elements that we’ve discussed since the beginning of the project.”

She said ICP plans to forego the center median design and instead will consider signage on one side of the road to “not run afoul of the county standards.”

ICP has been working with the trustees to develop 377 acres around Geauga Lake in the township after purchasing the property from Cedar Fair, L.P. ICP is seeking to develop a mixed-use district on the property to accommodate residential, work, retail and recreational concepts.

The township and ICP kicked off a formal partnership for the development of the property with the approval of a Menards Supercenter in November of 2020, but the two entities have been in regular discussions since February of 2020 following the township Board of Zoning Appeals initial denial of four variance requests in January that same year.

The Geauga Lake property is located in Bainbridge’s southern mixed-use planned unit development district, or MUP district, bordering Aurora. The property is part of a Joint Economic Development District, or JEDD, with the city after the two communities approved such an agreement in September last year. Per the agreement, Aurora will provide the district, between Aurora and Depot roads, with sanitary sewer and water services at a premium in exchange for a portion of the district’s income tax revenue.

Sam joined the Times in 2019 and covers several communities and schools in the Chagrin Valley and Geauga County. She also oversees the features/community events and the website. She earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University.

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