Watching lightpole issue
I read with great interest the article “Family objects to plans for utility pole” in the June 25 Times. The possible placement of a utility pole on a resident’s property was recently brought to the attention of the South Russell Council Public Utilities Committee. I am going to watch this issue very closely, and it is my hope that the family involved is successful in blocking the utility company’s plans. At that point, I can ask Village Council for the removal of the fire hydrant and the utility pole with a streetlight that are on my property and the electric, cable and telephone wires that are above my property.
Keep Affordable Care Act
During his 2016 Delaware campaign rally, Donald Trump promised that Ohioans would have “great health care at a fraction of the cost.” But instead of working to protect our care, the Trump Administration continues to undercut the Affordable Care Act, and Ohioans are paying the price.
In 2018, there were about 744,000 Ohioans uninsured. Under Trump’s failed leadership, more than 100,000 Ohioans lost coverage compared to the 640,000 Ohioans without health insurance in 2016. In addition, Ohioans on average saw a $2,210 annual premium increase.
Ohioans are struggling to pay their medical bill during the middle of a global pandemic when quality healthcare is needed most. Donald Trump is working to gut the Affordable Care Act. We can’t afford another four years of broken promises. We need to elect a president who will fight to lower drug costs, protect people with pre-existing conditions and ensure all Ohioans have access to affordable quality health care.
What’s going on in Pepper Pike?
For more than a year, Pepper Pike has engaged in a less than transparent process to push the rezoning of the Beech Brook Property. There have been closed door meetings, developer written ordinances, revisions to ordinances which miraculously appear on the date of hearings without any explanation as to where the changes came from, and a deliberate attempt by Mayor Richard Bain to stifle any true public process or participation. Developers Axiom and Steiner previously refused to provide any master plans, yet Mayor Bain and certain members of council have dogmatically continued to push the developers’ agenda, at the expense of its citizens and taxpayers, and have failed to ask any meaningful questions. This situation is not the way that development should work in any town.
As Mayor Bain and certain members of council have refused to ask questions and to solicit meaningful answers, I think we owe it to ourselves to publicly demand answers to the following questions:
1. Why is Pepper Pike pushing the developers’ agenda without having any real master plans or specifics on the developers’ proposed project?
2. Why is Pepper Pike pushing the developers’ agenda without having the proper updated traffic studies (ignoring the existence of Pinecrest, Moreland Commons, etc.), environmental studies or economic studies.
3. Why is Pepper Pike pushing this development when the developers will not commit to developing without taxpayer dollars or public subsidies?
4. Why has Pepper Pike not done its due diligence on the developers to determine how many times these developers have previously defaulted on projects and prior public financing commitments?
5. Why does Pepper Pike think that linking Pepper Pike’s development future to a proposed retail/office oriented development is a good idea when there is significant retail vacancy in Pinecrest, Legacy Village, Beachwood Place, East Gate and Golden Gate?
6. Why does Pepper Pike think that linking Pepper Pike’s development future to a proposed retail /office oriented development is a good idea when there is more than 490,000 square feet of vacant office space available within 5 miles of Pepper Pike prior to COVID-19?
7. Why is there such a rush to push this project now when the public can’t meet because of COVID-19, and many people are not able to focus on the massive changes that are secretly being foisted upon their city?
As one of the owners of the Shoppes at Landerwood, I have a major stake in Pepper Pike. As someone who has been in the development business for 40 years, I can honestly say that I have never seen a process like this, or a city less interested in understanding the impacts of their decisions. We need to send a strong message to the developers and our elected officials that this is not the way that they should treat the people of Pepper Pike.
I hope that you will join me in sending the message that something definitely stinks in Pepper Pike. Please vote no to rezone.
Robert I. Glimcher
Support new vibrant neighborhood
After speaking with hundreds of you at an open house in January and in the living rooms and kitchens across the City, Axiom Development Group and ADG Willey Creek LLC have revised our application to reflect your feedback. We took this feedback and created a conceptual vision for a new, vibrant neighborhood for the property located at Lander and Chagrin Boulevard, known as the Beech Brook property.
As a fellow Pepper Pike resident, it is my sincere goal to create a neighborhood that enhances our city and reflects the ideals of our community. We have drastically reduced the density and intensity of the proposed uses here. We have completely removed all multifamily, capped the amount and types of retail permitted, and are forming a partnership with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy to create a new park. The architectural style we have chosen is reminiscent of the community and the traditional New England towns that the Western Reserve was modeled after. It will be made up of the things that make a small town a community. This project would be picturesque, contextually appropriate and an asset to our community. I implore residents to read the actual ordinance, look at the site plan and precedent images and educate themselves on what is actually being proposed versus relying on misinformation and other peoples’ conclusions.
Beech Brook has been clear on its plans to sell this property for its endowment to sustain its 167-year mission. I support this mission and take our role in getting this plan right for the community, which I too choose to call home, very seriously. We are buying the property and the property will be developed. Our work over the past year has been to hone in on language to ensure city officials and residents have more control and input into what will be built. There is a misconception that if the land is not rezoned nothing will happen or that it will be turned into a park. I can assure you that this is simply not the case. It is also important to emphasize that we want to continue collaborating with city officials and residents to help ensure this new neighborhood fits seamlessly with Pepper Pike’s idyllic natural setting and charm. I hope you will join me in bringing this neighborhood to life.
We are circulating petitions to work toward placing the issue on the November ballot because we understand that time is of the essence and with COVID-19 concerns, public hearings may not be possible. It is important to us that voters have a chance to decide on their future of their community. While we are pursuing this route, we are continuing to work with City Council. This is by no means bypassing a public process, but instead ensuring your voice is heard at the ballot box.
Rezoning is opportunity
The rezoning proposal for Beech Brook is truly an exciting opportunity for our Pepper Pike residents to gain a beautiful mixed-use community that will also preserve the natural setting around Willey Creek in a way that everyone can enjoy. This project will offer us a new community center where people can stroll and relax. Yes, there will be a small retail footprint, but one that focuses on the types of things that the city is lacking, amenities for residents along with professional, creative and medical office spaces that also do not exist in Pepper Pike. All of this would be situated around an expansive green space and bordered by single family housing to its south. I am picturing charming sidewalks, hiking trails and areas for families to gather and see one another. There is not anything like this anywhere in the area outside of Chagrin Falls, especially not in Pepper Pike.
The developer, Bryan Stone, is a fellow Pepper Pike resident. He is thoughtful, honest and truly cares about our community and its future. He has been working with the city for over 18 months to bring the rezoning issue to ballot in the most open and transparent way. Bryan has presented at City Hall on a number of occasions to discuss the program and hosted an open house at the Beech Brook property to review the vision and obtain feedback from the community. Additionally, Bryan has been meeting with residents to gather input to create a shared vision for our community. Isn’t that exactly what you would want a developer to do in this situation? As a result of those meetings, Axiom submitted a revised ordinance and site plan to city administrators, that will benefit our city for years to come.
What I like most about the proposal Axiom put forward is that it blends a mixed-use community with Pepper Pike’s idyllic natural setting. It fits squarely within what makes Pepper Pike a great place but also gives the city something that we really need, a planned community with large open public shared spaces. It is thoughtfully designed, and now incorporates constructive feedback from our residents.The revised proposed site plan has:
Removed all multifamily residences and is only proposing single family.
Capped the amount and types of retail permitted.
Reduced the maximum residential density by 20 percent.
Axiom recently announced it is working with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy as a partner to preserve Willey Creek and the areas surrounding it, opening it up for public use as a park with hiking trails to enjoy this beautiful natural setting.We are grateful to have a developer who values the preservation of this natural setting and is working to create a city center space that we can all enjoy. I really do believe in this project and hope residents will take the time to learn more about the positive benefits for our community. To learn more, please visit pepperpikeneighborhood.com.
Axiom gives ultimatum
It has now become abundantly clear that the residents of Pepper Pike and surrounding communities are against Axiom’s mixed-use development plans (look at the number of Say No To Rezone yard signs on display). Axiom has, therefore, taken to bullying the community. The developer’s opening statement at last week’s council meeting was, “When all is said and done, we will be the ones buying the property, and I assure you that the property will be developed.” We are clearly under attack by a developer whose only concern is to develop something that we don’t need, we don’t want and that will hurt us.
We can see that the developer’s past claims that he only had the city’s best interests at heart were just developer hype. He will do anything to tear down this lush and beautiful resource for his personal financial gain.
It has been presented to the city and residents for over a year now that Axiom’s contract with Beech Brook was a contingency contract based on Axiom getting rezoning approval for mixed-use. This representation was furthered by the city’s declaring an emergency for these rezoning ordinances to expedite getting the issue on the ballot.
If the developer’s latest claim/threat/ultimatum is to be believed, why wasn’t the initial contract just an outright purchase agreement? Then they would have owned the property months ago. Why after repeated requests for the developer to disclose the terms of the pending contract has Axiom not been forthcoming with that information?
This latest tactic coupled with past actions begs the question: Is this really the company and people we can depend on and trust going forward?
We encourage you not to sign their petition (being circulated by an out-of-town company). For more detail, email SayNoToRezone@roadrunner.com.
Manny and Judi Naft
Steps to opening schools
The major obstacle to children returning to their classrooms will be a high or increasing rate of COVID-19 infection in our community. Classroom instruction is vitally important to the academic and social development of our students, especially the younger ones. Today’s students deserve the same benefits of classroom instruction that previous generations have enjoyed. For this to occur, everyone must stay at home as much as possible and, when present in public spaces, observe distancing, wear masks and take part in frequent hand-washing for the duration of the pandemic.
Ronald R. Janke
Pepper Pike needs green space
This morning as I sat in the filtered sunlight of my back patio, sipping tea and looking over my backyard, a doe and her stumbling, clumsy fawn walked through. A rabbit munched on the perimeter and the birds were going crazy at the feeder. This is what the rezoning and development of Beech Brook will remove from Pepper Pike.
Think of all the animals that live off the heavily wooded acres of Beech Brook and adjacent properties. We will have concrete instead of meadows, 200,000 square feet of commercial/retail instead of trees and cars, two more traffic circles and increased congestion instead of quiet green space.
Pepper Pike Mayor Richard Bain stated at the June 24 City Council meeting that the issue is about rezoning, not about the development plans for the three properties. I beg to differ. As concerned, conscientious parents, you ask questions about your child’s plans for the evening – who are you going with, how many will be there, will the parents be chaperoning the party? You want specifics, not vague changeable plans – you don’t allow your 15-year-old just to say, “I’m going out.” You ask questions. As concerned, conscientious Pepper Pike residents and voters, we have to know specifics (without variances and plan modifications after rezoning, which we can’t control) about what Axiom plans to do with Beech Brook. We have to ask questions and have solid, unchangeable and reliable answers before we can make an informed decision about allowing Beech Brook to become a concrete jungle devoid of animals except two-legged ones.
Imagine in several years, sitting at Axiom’s imaginary coffee shop, looking at the back of a building with the summer heat radiating off all the impervious surfaces with the sounds of cars whizzing by and surrounded by 200,000 square feet of buildings plus townhomes and four houses per acre – ahhh how relaxing!
Yesterday, I went to Boardman, Ohio, to have an outdoor brown bag lunch with a high school friend. We went to Boardman Park. A green space gem off of a very busy Route 224. It is much bigger than Beech Brook but still an oasis – trees shading walking trails, picnic tables and pavilions for picnics. I told my friend about the rezoning and said that is what Pepper Pike needs, an oasis to be enjoyed, not 200,000 square feet more of retail and commercial buildings.
Lou Ann Graham