CUYAHOGA FALLS — The installation of around $5 million worth of utility lines and road upgrades are among the benefits to residents who will live in and around a new housing development near the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

A total of 88 ranch and single-family homes is planned on 105 acres along Sourek Trail between Smith and Sand Run roads in the former Northampton Township part of the city. Council approved the Ryan Homes’ Woodlands at Sourek Trail project last year. City Engineer Tony Demasi said construction of the homes started in November 2018 and the entire project is expected to be finished in 2021.

City Council on Monday approved a 10-year, 75% Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement that creates a 275-acre district containing both the Woodlands at Sourek Trail development and existing nearby homes. 

Under the TIF, for the next decade, "75% of the increase in [property] taxes as a result of the development will be paid by the owners, for the public improvements within the same district," said Law Director Russ Balthis. The installation of gas and water lines, along with road upgrades, would be performed for residents on Sourek Trail, Sand Hill Drive and Kubic Drive, said Demasi.

Community Development Director Diana Colavecchio said those taxes are expected to add up to $6.7 million during the 10-year period. Of that amount, $5.03 million would be used for the infrastructure upgrades and $1.1 million would go to the Woodridge Local School District.

Colavecchio added that the projected tax revenues are based on two assumptions: The estimated increase in the value of the development parcels will be $26.4 million, and the approximate value of a home being built in the development will be $300,000.

Legislation approved to extend natural gas lines, perform engineering services

In addition to the TIF, Council on Monday approved both a deal to extend natural gas lines to the residents in the TIF area and a contract to pay a company to perform engineering services for upcoming road and infrastructure improvements (including a new water line) in the TIF district.

"A lot of these services were chosen by a poll that was done with the residents that are there," said Council Member Tim Gorbach (D-At Large). "We’re going to be pushing water out and [providing] reliable gas lines for folks that just don’t have it out in those areas. I think it’s a very positive plan."

Council Member Russ Iona (R-8) praised the administration and noted that some of the "toughest critics" of the proposed development were appreciative of receiving natural gas service through the deal that was moving forward.

"I’m glad we were able to put this together," said Iona.

Last year, a group of residents who live near the planned development voiced objections due to concerns about additional traffic, safety for residents who bike and walk along the road, and potential flooding. Additionally, they felt the project to build homes on quarter-acre lots would conflict with the rural character of the area.

Demasi said city officials met with residents in the Sourek Trail area twice to find out what types of improvements they would like to see. He noted 80% of residents who live in the area responded to a survey looking for feedback.

One of the improvements that residents wanted was natural gas lines extended to their homes. Council approved a deal for Dominion Energy Gas Ohio to extend its natural gas distribution lines to homes along portions of Sand Hill Drive, Kubic Drive and Sourek Trail. The city will pay $113,444 for the pipeline extension and the tap-in fees. Demasi said the city will be reimbursed through the funds collected in the TIF deal.

"As each resident is connected to this new gas main over the next 10 years, Dominion will refund the city $4,645 for each meter installed," noted Demasi.

He added that each resident will have to hire a contractor "for the completion of the service from the meter to their home."

There are currently 21 homes in the TIF district that would be able to tie in to the natural gas service, and the 88 new homes in the Woodlands at Sourek Trail development will be constructed with natural gas service, according to Demasi.

He said he expects Dominion to begin its work soon.

The city will pay DLZ Ohio $319,128 to do professional engineering services in connection with the improvements to Sourek, Sand Hill and Kubic. Demasi said he anticipates the design work will be finished in the winter. The planned improvements for Sourek Trail in 2020 are pavement widening, ditch upgrades and the lowering of hills and the raising of valleys to improve sight distances along the road. Demasi added that a limited amount of curbs and storm sewers will be installed so that tree removal is minimized. Demasi said water lines will be installed along Sand Hill and Kubic in the 2020 construction season.

The total cost of these improvements is estimated at $3.5 million. The city will pay for this project out of its capital improvements fund and then be reimbursed through the funds generated in the TIF deal, according to Finance Director Bryan Hoffman.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.