AURORA — The city has wiped its hands clean of a legal dispute with a couple who sought a conditional zoning certificate to allow construction of a family entertainment center on Route 43 across from Aurora Farms Premium Outlets.
Elana and Yuri Abramovich — doing business as ABR Management LLC — came to the city’s planning commission and Council in 2015 seeking to locate the business on 4.39 acres bordered by Miller and Leighton schools, Route 43 and Mantua Feed & Grain.
Both bodies denied the CZC, and ABR Management filed a complaint for declaratory judgment and other relief in Portage County Common Pleas Court, claiming the city’s action was unconstitutional and asking the court to declare the existing O-1 office district zoning invalid.
Last November, the company voluntarily asked the court to dismiss the complaint without prejudice. On July 15, Council approved a settlement and mutual release agreement, which calls for the city’s insurance company to pay the couple $15,000.
"The insurance company assisted us in defending this legal action," explained Law Director Dean DePiero. "Now that ABR Management no longer owns the property, this action will settle all claims asserted by the company.
"Since ABR Management’s claim involved constitutional and taking of property issues, we felt it best to allow the city’s insurance policy to pay the settlement."
"It is understood and agreed that the payment described herein, and the settlement and releases, are the compromise of disputed claims, and are not to be construed as an admission of any liability, fault, wrongdoing or responsibility on the part of the parties," reads the settlement.
In its complaint, ABR Management claimed the property could not viably be developed under O-1 office district zoning, and asked the court to allow the company to use and develop the property for commercial purposes in accordance with a C-1 shopping district.
The Abramovichs wanted to build a 23,585-square-foot facility worth $5.5 million, which would have housed arcade games, a rope course, laser tag, a rock-climbing wall, bumper cars, a cafe and party rooms.
ABR attorney Kenneth Fisher had said the proposed fun center would be comparable to a racquet, health and/or recreation club, which would be conditionally permitted under O-1 office zoning.
However, after intense opposition from the public, the planning commission and Council determined that the facility was more comparable to a party center, which is conditionally permitted in a C-1 or C-2 commercial district, but not in an office district.
Recently, the planning commission granted a CZC to JW Congregation Support, which would allow a Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses faith to be built on the parcel. The planning panel has yet to consider a final site plan for the Kingdom Hall.
Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400, ext. 4189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.