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Pepper Pike Residents Speak Out Against Proposed Mixed-Use Development

The proposal has been referred to the city council for review, but was not on the Wednesday agenda. [Taylor Haggerty / ideastream]
Pepper Pike City Council sitting at the front of a full audience in the council chambers

Updated: 12:53 p.m., Thursday Dec. 19, 2019

Residents in Pepper Pike are pushing back against a proposed mixed-use development in their town, turning out in force at a Wednesday night city council meeting.

The proposal from Axiom Development Group to redevelop the approximately 65-acre Beech Brook property between Lander Road and Chagrin Boulevard is still in its early stages, according to city officials, with no official blueprints for the site.

Rezoning the area for a mix of residential and commercial sites would bring in more tax revenue for the city. But residents argue it would remove necessary green space, increase traffic and change the character of the primarily residential neighborhood.

Judi Naft, co-treasurer of the Say No To Rezone PAC – a political action committee created to oppose the proposal – said there’s no need for more commercial development in the area.

“Even if they fix the traffic problem and even if the developer does come up with a site plan, we just don’t want it,” Naft said.

The proposal has been referred to the city council for review. It was not on the Wednesday agenda, but residents spoke against the potential development during the open public comment portion at the end of the meeting and occasionally got heated.

Manny Naft, co-treasurer Say No To Rezone, called for more open communication from city officials.

“Planning and zoning recommended it back to council. It says ‘recommended’ on the ordinance right now,” Naft said. “Why is it being held? Up to this point, as far as I know, it’s still classified as an emergency.”

City officials were alerted to the proposal in February, Naft said, and failed to alert residents to the potential change. The first email to residents addressing the potential redevelopment was sent this week.

Naft attempted to display posters with photographs of the property, and when Mayor Richard Bain would not allow it, Naft passed the posters around the audience and later put them up in the hallway outside the meeting room.  Bain said Naft mischaracterized city council’s words and assured residents the city will host town halls and public meetings to collect input on the proposal in January.

City officials are working with Axiom to address residents’ concerns, Bain said.

“As I understand the proposal, the primary use that is intended would be for commercial and residential,” Bain said.

The planning commission has already made changes to the initial proposal, Bain said, limiting the removal of green space and changing building density and height limitations. The plan also includes a park area around the creek on the property, Bain said.

“Of course we have concerns regarding the environmental, the traffic. Those have been expressed to the developer,” Bain said. “Any proposal they bring forward must address those areas. I do not envision this would ever be successfully supported by the residents in a zoning referendum.”

The Beech Brook property, at 3737 Lander Road, has been up for sale for about one year, as the children’s behavioral health agency looks to move. The property is not in a residential area, Bain said, but in the city’s commercial and retail district.