AURORA — A site plan for a new Aurora Animal Care Center in Town Center has been approved by the planning commission.

Planners in January had accepted for study plans for Dr. Ellen Imhof’s proposed vet clinic and kennel on a 2.37-acre parcel south of the new Tire Max building and east of Aurora Commons shopping center.

At the panel’s July 16 meeting, members OK’d the preliminary and final site plans.

Clifford Brown of FMD Architects said the care center is awaiting a wetlands permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and that can’t be issued until a biological opinion is finalized since trees on the property are home to Indiana bats, which are an endangered species.

Brown said he will pass the official opinion on to city officials when it becomes available. "I expect the opinion will state there will be no biological impact associated with the development of this site," he said.

The city’s engineering department will not permit disturbance of the site until the wetlands permit is received.

Imhof, who owns the Aurora Animal Care Center on South Aurora Road and a kennel on West Garfield Road, plans to consolidate the two locations into a 9,300-square-foot building at the new site, which is in a C-3 community shopping center zoning district.

About 1 1/2 years ago, Imhof proposed to build the new facility off North Aurora Road in front of the Hawthorn of Aurora housing development, but nearby residents’ concerns led her to look for another site.

Imhof said the new proposed building would be slightly bigger than the one proposed for Hawthorn, but would not house more dog runs than were previously proposed.

The one-story building will include separate entrances for the vet clinic and boarding operations. It will have indoor exercise areas and a community dog wash. The site will not accommodate a walking path, which was proposed at the Hawthorn site.

The boarding facility will be built with the newest technology in comfort and sound proofing. It will include 47 parking spaces, which city officials said meets building requirements.

"I commend Dr. Imhof for her diligence in finding another site and staying in Aurora," said planning panelist John Kokinchak.

The commission earlier this year approved a transfer of the vet clinic’s conditional zoning certificate from its current 2.15-acre parcel on South Aurora Road to the new site.

Subdivision plans, other projects reviewed

Also at the planners’ July 18 session, members forwarded the final plat for Phases 2A and 2B of Forest Ridge of Aurora to Council with a positive recommendation. Those phases are at West Garfield Road and Lakeland Way near the Twinsburg Township border.

Because of limited business during the summer, Council’s next meeting is not until Aug. 20.

Planning-Zoning-Building Director Denise Januska explained a utilities easement is 12 feet wide and the utilities would be underground. 

She added since sidewalks would be challenging to install along Route 82, an agreement is being discussed with the developer to provide funds to the city to construct about 2,000 feet of sidewalks elsewhere.

At the planning panel’s Aug. 1 session, members accepted for study the final plat of Phases 2 and 3 of the Preserve at Beljon Farms and a wetlands setback variance request there.

The Preserves is being developed on 70 acres on East Pioneer Trail, west of Page Road, with 78 lots proposed, including 52 lots and 42 acres of open space in Phases 2 and 3.

Pulte Homes is building the units, and the land drains into the Aurora branch of the Chagrin River. Pulte said the average variance distance for 10 of the lots would be 30 feet. The city code requires 75-foot riparian setbacks.

A Pulte spokesman said the variances will allow for a greater preservation of onsite wetlands and natural vegetation and reduce the need for offsite mitigation, while embracing the core concepts of a residential conservation development.

A request for a wetlands setback variance to accommodate added parking spaces at Aurora Manor on South Bissell Road was withdrawn by Saber Healthcare, operator of the nursing facility.

Aurora Manor is planning to construct a 15,500-square-foot addition to its existing 45,000-square-foot building. The addition would include 24 new private resident rooms and a new rear entrance to a renovated physical therapy area.

The variance initially was sought because nine of 59 proposed new parking spaces would encroach 56 feet into the wetlands.

A recommendation from the Chagrin River Watershed Partners was that the variance wasn’t needed because the facility would be in compliance with parking requirements without the nine encroaching spaces.

Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400 Ext. 4189 or klahmers@recordpub.com