Aurora -- City planning commission members recently accepted for study a request from the parks and recreation department for a conditional zoning certificate for a public outdoor recreation facility at Spring Hill Farm on East Pioneer Trail.

At the panel's Aug. 6 meeting, a handful of citizens spoke during a public hearing about the issue, and more discussion by the panel is expected at its Sept. 3 meeting.

Parks-Rec Director Jim Kraus said a parking lot and walking paths already exist at the property, and a new driveway is proposed for better public access. He noted future improvements, such as a picnic pavilion, would require planning commission site plan approval.

Because of deed restrictions, the property can only be used as a passive park. Panelists said they want to study the deed restrictions before voting on the CZC.

Kraus said he and the mayor want to develop a plan for future use of the property and improvements, and that there might be grant opportunities available for some projects.

Some residents questioned the proposed location for the new driveway. Nearby resident Kit Blair stressed the driveway location is critical for traffic safety.

Kraus explained the service director and city engineer did a field study and determined the proposed location -- west of existing driveways -- was best for site distance and visibility.

Nearby resident Patrick Berner opposed the driveway location because it would be too close to his property, and he favored the city installing "public property" signs on the existing fence so there is a clear separation of public and private properties.

Nearby resident Laurel Settecase was concerned that the natural beauty of the area would be disturbed if the city has an illuminated parking lot and picnic pavilions.

Kraus said the deed restrictions on the front 10 acres of the 153-acre parcel allow the city to build a picnic pavilion, because that is considered passive recreation.

Resident Eugene Molnar said he believes the existing driveway offers better visibility than the proposed one.

Panelists agreed it is a good idea to require site plan approval on any future improvements, as chairman Kathi Grandillo said was done with the Kiwanis-Moore Playground project.