Aurora -- City leaders plan to rezone the 548 acres in and around the former Geauga Lake Amusement Park property to a mixed-use district that would combine residential, office, commercial and entertainment all in one.

"The overall concept is, people would have the ability to live, work, shop and even play there," Planning-Zoning-Building Director Rich Wehrenberg said.

City leaders discussed the mixed-use district at Council's committee of the whole meeting Dec. 2. There will be a public hearing Jan. 13, and all the people in the area will be notified.

Wehrenberg said the rezoning issue, which must be OK'd by Aurora voters, is intended to go on the May 2014 primary election ballot. It would rezone 548 acres currently zoned R-2 and R-4 residential and C-1 industrial.

"We've been talking about this for quite a few years," he said. "This property was first listed for sale by Cedar Fair. Since around 2007, we've been considering zoning on this property to see if it is appropriate and if it is the best usefor the city.

"This is a great opportunity for the city to proactively plan for a large, vacant area," Wehrenberg said. "It's probably the largest piece of land that's still available in the city -- not only large but also vacant and largely owned by one owner. All those things point to rezoning this as a comprehensive district so we can get the best use for the city -- not only for the city's wants and needs, but also for a revenue production standpoint for the city."

THE PROPERTY includes about 200 acres in Bainbridge.

"We're looking at working with [Bainbridge officials] on compatible zoning on this large parcel," Wehrenberg said.

He said the whole area, including the water park, would be rezoned under this legislation, adding that Cedar Fair wants to retain ownership of the water park.

"Once this goes to the ballot and is approved, there will be another process where we put in a specific regulatory plan for the development," he said. "This is the first step. We'll see if this is approved by voters. If it is, we'll put in the detail work."

Judson Kline, president of Civitad Services who serves as Aurora's consultant, told Aurora officials, "The wonderful thing about this is, you have a rather large piece of property, [and we can] be proactive about the development rather than reactive to a developer who comes in and says, 'I want to do this,' and everybody sort of scrambles about."

"The development district then becomes attractive to developers to look at opportunities that make sense," Kline said. "The idea is to create a mechanism [so you don't have to keep going back to the voters]. It creates a single district that allows for mixed uses within this large envelope of properties."


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Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC