CUYAHOGA FALLS — About 50 people attended Monday’s City Council meeting and several urged Council to wait on approving a company’s plan to build watercraft storage buildings until stormwater management issues in that area have been addressed.
Buckeye Sports Center, 4610 State Road, is planning to build a 10,500-square-foot addition to its showroom and construct five 11,840-square-foot watercraft storage buildings at 190 Cochran Road. Planning Director Fred Guerra said Buckeye is buying a 3.8-acre site at 190 Cochran Road, following a long-term plan to construct the storage buildings to house watercraft in the fall and winter.
No concerns were raised about the proposed showroom addition on State Road, but the plan for the storage buildings prompted concerns from nearby residents who said they are already experiencing flooding on their properties.
Council’s Planning and Zoning committee decided it would have Council vote on both proposals on July 8. The committee unanimously favored moving the showroom addition for a vote, but voted 2-1 to bring the storage buildings legislation forward for a full council vote. Committee members Russ Iona (R-8) and Drew Reilly (D-1) voted "yes," while member Mike Brillhart (D-5) voted "no." The committee decided to bring the storage building legislation forward without a recommendation.
Jim Armington, who owns Buckeye Sports Center, said the storage buildings are the second phase of his company’s plan to "grow our business, grow our employment, grow our tax base."
"At this point, we’re looking at just doing three buildings," said Armington. "The fifth building, we were looking at holding off on it until that front retention pond is handled. Even the fourth building, our plan at this point is to not go forward with that until some of these other issues have been resolved."
Armington added that he agrees with all the recommendations made by the planning commission at its June meeting, including the stormwater stipulations.
Guerra said Buckeye will create a large stormwater detention basin in the back of the property.
"Final designs for the detention basin are not complete, but it will be large enough to meet our new stormwater standards," said Guerra.
He added when the Planning Commission approved the plan in June, it recommended that a second detention basin area be built in the front of the property after the second building has been constructed.
Armington said the latest stormwater management plan would divert water away from the Cochran Road property and "all of the property east of us over to Mudbrook [creek]" would see a major benefit.
Resident Mike Patrino, who lives in the nearby North Point development on River Rock Road, said he has experienced a lot of flooding problems.
He told Council that he felt the city needed to address stormwater management and flooding issues before allowing another project to occur.
"We’re putting the cart before the horse," said Patrino. "...We have been up on Cochran Road over the last five years watching it flood, watching water coming across the street."
Resident Sandy Hunsicker added, "if you’re going to develop an area, shouldn’t you prepare it as a city for that development first?"
Another North Point resident, Emery Serdinak, noted that water comes off the roof and paved areas and added that the clay in the ground "does not hold water."
"The more you build, the more problems you’re going to have," said Serdinak. "You’ve got to control this."
Resident Michael Pallotta emphasized that residents are not opposed to Buckeye wishing to expand its business.
"It’s the city of Cuyahoga Falls that is the problem," said Michael Pallotta. "You have to solve the problem ... we’re asking you to do your job."
Brillhart said he was "totally opposed" to the storage buildings project, saying he felt there were "way too many water issues."
"There’s too many issues," said Brillhart. "Too many questions ... I can’t see risking this beautiful neighborhood for boat storage."
Council Member Vic Pallotta (R-3) added he had a "big concern about the stormwater management" on the project. Council Member Mary Ellen Pyke (R-2) noted, "I really think that we need to mitigate these problems and take care of them before we do anything else that exacerbates the current problems that they’re having."
The buildings are required to have gutters and downspouts that will connect to the underground storm sewer network, according to the planning commission’s recommendation. The city is planning to implement the Environmental Design Group’s 2016 Mill Pond Mud Brook Greenway Master Plan stormwater recommendations and EDG’s 2018 Buckeye Sports Center Cold Storage Facility recommendations.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.