Cuyahoga Falls -- City Council will vote March 13 on a new residential development that has met with opposition by several residents, including at least one member of Council.
Developer Danny Karam filed an application to subdivide 333 E. Bath Road into six lots to build single family attached dwellings, Planning Director Fred Guerra told Council on March 6. Hunter Parkway Subdivision is proposed on the corner of Hunter Parkway and East Bath Road.
Guerra said there is currently a vacant single family home on the property. The city's housing division placed orders on that structure addressing the damaged detached garage and exterior issues with the principal dwelling, he said.
"The orders were a result of complaints from surrounding residents," Guerra said. Karam bought the property at a sheriff's sale on March 17, 2015, with plans to demolish the house and garage, splitting up the property into six parcels, Guerra explained in his report to Council. The surrounding area is currently a mix of single family households and attached condominiums.
"The proposed development will be single family, attached, fee simple dwellings," Guerra said. "This will align with the General Plan's goal of mixed density residential development."
On Feb. 22 the Planning Commission unanimously approved Karam's plans with stipulations he upgrade the handicap ramp on the corner of Bath Road and Hunter Parkway, convert overhead electric service to underground, install a fire hydrant in the vicinity of Lot 6, place a 5-foot sidewalk around all street frontages and create a tree lawn around all street facing frontages and plant street trees.
Karam told Council the homes would be sold at a cost between $255,000 and $260,000 or leased for $2,200 per month.
Guerra said parking is permitted on one side of Hunter Parkway and each home will have a two-car garage and a driveway large enough to park three more vehicles.
Councilmembers, residents raise concerns
Councilman Paul Colavecchio (D-at large) said he is concerned about traffic safety because turning into Hunter Parkway from Bath Road is "tight" and when cars are parked up to the corner, turning in is "dangerous."
Guerra said prohibiting parking at the corner will have to be enforced.
"I'm concerned you will be crowding homeowners," Colavecchio said, noting Karam's plan to build homes with six driveways on Hunter Parkway.
Karam said each home will have a 20-foot setback in front and 31 feet in back, and a 6-foot fence. Karam confirmed he will be renting all six homes if he can't sell them.
Guerra said the parcels will be in conformance with all residential lot standards in the city's General Development Code, and the density level of the development is allowed by the zoning.
"Do you think they will sell for $255,000 to $260,000?" Colavecchio asked Karam.
"Yes, the ranch will," Karam said.
"I'm afraid they will be rented," said Colavecchio, who asked Guerra if the city could decide whether Karam could rent his units. Guerra said no.
"I am very opposed to this ordinance," announced Councilman Mike Brillhart (D-5). "I understand the zoning laws and I understand the legalities; however, I've not had any issue cause more calls to me, letters and contacts from constituents that are very opposed to this. There are many issues as far as the six driveways in that spot where there is only one house and that driveway goes onto Bath Road. You've got a school bus stop there. Where are people going to park? It's too high of a density This just shouldn't be."
"This is properly zoned and we are working with [the developer]," said Guerra. "They are going to build them according to the city's standards."
Jeff Schultz, a resident of nearby Prescott Commons subdivision, said building six houses in the area in question is "overdoing it. "I feel aesthetically-wise, either two or three houses should be enough. I think we're getting too congested at that intersection."
John Thompson, also of Prescott Commons, said a ranch house in his subdivision sold for $92,000 and a two-story unit sold for $124,000. "I find it hard to believe that six tiny units on a corner lot with no parking in front would bring two hundred and some thousand dollars."
Thompson also said congestion related to school bus stops would be exacerbated by the addition of these six proposed homes on a street where visibility is limited when cars are parked on it.
"What I'm concerned about is a term I learned today declare an emergency," said Fred Meyer of the Reserve of East Bath. "If you declare it an emergency, you don't have to wait 30 days. What is the hurry? This thing needs the light of day." Meyer said City Council should host a public hearing before approving this project.
Councilman Carol Klinger (R-at large) said she is "not comfortable with all the safety issues."
"What we have to look at is, Does it meet the code? Does it meet the law?" said Councilman Russ Iona (R-8), a member of the Planning Commission. "It met all the planning specifications." Iona said he thought at first the area was too small to build six units. "Then I walked the property and I changed my mind," he said.
Iona further stated any related safety issues should be brought up to the Traffic Committee. "The builder has done everything we've asked within the code," he said.