AURORA — City Council unanimously voted to eliminate residential conservation districts from the zoning code after a public hearing Dec. 17. The action was recommended by the planning commission in October.

Two residents spoke at the hearing, primarily asking why the elimination was being proposed. 

Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin said many residents have been concerned about some of the small-lot, high-density developments which have been allowed in the city over the past few years.

"The city hasn’t been able to control those very well, so the administration talked about how we could better manage those kinds of developments," explained Womer Benjamin.

"We felt RCDs have been problematic and didn’t seem to fit the city’s rural character, so we thought it would be best to eliminate them."

The mayor told Council when the measure was introduced in November that city officials believe RCDs as a conditional use are more appropriate in an urban setting, and eliminating them "will help make the community more appealing."

The mayor said elimination will not mean the city can’t allow developers to propose conserving open space, because that still can be achieved via variances "which will give the city more control over development."

Planning-Zoning-Building Director Denise Januska has said since land for residential development is dwindling, it is not conducive for the city to continue using RCDs as a development tool, when the variance route would work just as well.

Councilman Jim Vaca has said although the RCD concept preserves open space, it means homes are squeezed closer together on the buildable land.

"More homes in a smaller space creates problems such as disputes between neighbors," he said. "I think bigger lot zoning is better."

Added Councilman John Kudley, "Some past administrations missed the mark when they favored the RCD concept. Our current mayor is trying to be proactive in this regard as Aurora approaches buildout." 

OTHER MATTERS

Also Dec. 17, Council confirmed the mayor’s appointments or reappointments of the following to various boards: Ron Cohen, Morgen Cost, Len Gantler, Carolyn Greenberger, Joe Keckan, Jim Maulis, Cheryl Shrout, Nikki Thieding and Greg Tomasko, chater review commission; Peter French, planning commission; Jason Coleman, landmark commission; and Steven Greenberger and Jeff Iammarino, board of zoning appeals.

Council OK’d establishing a classified, non-exempt full-time construction and inspection manager position with a salary range of $50,605 to $97,520.

The Aurora Board of Education will be compensated a net total of $97,073 for its portion of the income tax received from property tax abatements granted on commercial and industrial properties for 2018.

The actual amount is $137,073, minus $40,000 due the city for providing one school resource officer.

The mayor was authorized to execute a memorandum of understanding with Pulte Homes of Ohio LLC for the city’s pro-rata share of the cost for oversizing waterlines under a 2007 consent judgment handed down in Portage County Common Pleas Court.

The consent agreement pertains to a waterline extended through the Preserve at Beljon Farm subdivision on East Pioneer Trail, committing the city to pay and be responsible for construction of the line beyond the area serving the immediate needs of developing the subdivision.

Council also approved the purchase of a Lifepak 15 heart monitor / defibrillator from Physio-Control for $23,205 through the state cooperative bid program.

Also OK’d was an ordinance granting an access easement to 1900 Old PIoneer Trail LLC to allow ingress and egress on property at 173 S. Chillicothe Road.

Cintas was awarded a contract for city uniforms, and Council appropriated and transferred $2.1 million from the general fund into five separate funds.

The 2019 appropriations will go to third reading at Council’s Jan. 14 meeting.

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