Aurora — Passage of Issue 11, the mixed-use zoning issue that includes 322 acres of former Geauga Lake park land, means the potential revitalization of the northern entrance to the city and creation of “a more attractive gateway,” Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin said.
“I hope people can use and enjoy this beautiful property,” she said. “The mixed-use zoning will foster opportunities for economic development and an improved tax base with business and activity that could flourish there. It will benefit property owners, adjacent businesses, the community and region.”
Issue 11 was OK’d May 6 by a vote of  2,319 to 528, according to complete but unofficial results from the Portage County Elections Board.
The acreage where the mixed-use district will be created is mostly between Routes 306. Some was zoned industrial.
“I envision a flexible, attractive and user-friendly development blending residential, cultural, business, recreational and commercial uses,” Womer Benjamin said.
“The administration is planning what types of uses are appropriate for each part of the land,” she said. “It should be a high-quality development with connectivity, distinctive architectural design and citizen amenities such as lighting and streetscaping.”
Prior to Election Day, Womer Benjamin worked with City Council to create a 120-day moratorium on development in the new district, which went into effect May 7.
“During the moratorium, we’ll draft the regulations and seek planning commission and council approval,” she said. “The administration is discussing ways to cultivate and identify potential buyers, and continues to meet with interested parties.
Womer Benjamin said Economic Development Director Jack Burge will work with Cedar Fair, owner of much of the land, regarding potential developers.
She said regulations will specify types of developments that will be appropriate, in what areas they can exist, and  height, materials, buffering, setbacks, etc.
Womer Benjamin believes the issue was approved by voters because “the administration worked hard to inform Aurorans about this unique opportunity to chart a new path for the Geauga Lake area and our community.”
“After years of lying fallow, Geauga Lake is in need of being redeveloped in a positive fashion, and voters embraced that vision incorporated in the mixed-use rezoning,” she said.
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