STOW — Should the city-owned Fox Den Golf Course be rezoned?
The planning commission will soon address this question after City Council on Thursday unanimously agreed to request that the commission make a recommendation on whether to rezone the Fox Den property from a residential district to a conservation designation. Council also requested that the commission consider "significantly limiting" the amount of uses in the conservation district, including "removal of all housing, whether single or multi-family," stated Council member Sindi Harrison (Ward 2) in her motion.
Council member Mike Rasor (At Large) said he and Harrison felt the Fox Den property was "inappropriately zoned" with its current residential designation
Harrison before the meeting said many area golf courses have closed in the last few years, and while she hopes Fox Den "keeps thriving," she said the rezoning proposal is designed to prevent the land from being developed in case the golf course is no longer there. At Thursday’s meeting, she noted the issue has been an "ongoing concern" for Ward 2 residents who live near the golf course and said she believed rezoning the land would help "ease their minds."
Rasor said he would like to change the zoning on the Fox Den property in an effort to "to preserve green space for decades to come," and added he thought putting the land in a conservation district would be "a great way for us to bolster the property values in that area."
Noting that some residential development is currently allowed in the conservation zoning district, Rasor said he also wants to "tighten up" the permitted uses for the conservation zoning classification.
Before the meeting, Harrison told the Sentry that the rezoning proposal is in line with the feedback the city received when the comprehensive plan was reviewed in 2017.
"Most of [the residents we heard from] don’t want to see more housing development," said Harrison. "They want to see more green space maintained."
Harrison said residents near the golf course had also experienced flooding problems.
Mayor John Pribonic thanked council for asking the commission to examine the issue.
"Once we lose green space, we can never go back," said Pribonic.
The commission’s recommendations will be sent back to council for the legislators’ review and vote.
Fox Den Golf Course opened in 1966. The city of Stow bought Fox Den in 2006 for a price of $5.5 million.
Charter proposal on planning commission term limits heads to ballot
Council voted 6-1 to send a proposal to the November ballot asking voters to amend the charter to establish term limits for planning commission members.
The vote was a do-over: Council had voted in May to put the issue on the fall ballot, but Stow Law Director Brendan Mackin said the Summit County Board of Elections since notified him that the phrase "partial repeal" was in the language. Mackin said the board felt the phrase was an error because no wording is being repealed in the proposed charter change.
Mackin said the board told him the language was "confusing" and recommended fixing it before the election. The deadline to file this issue for the November ballot is Sept. 6.
If it’s approved by voters, the proposed revision would add language to Section 10.01 of the charter stating: "no planning commission member shall serve more than two consecutive four-year terms as a member of the Planning Commission. Any Planning Commission member disqualified from holding such public office due to the aforementioned term limitation shall become eligible to hold the same public office upon the expiration of four years."
If it the change is backed by voters, it would take effect Jan. 2, 2020.
Currently, planning commission members do not have term limits.
The proposal was requested by Rasor, who at a past meeting said he believes it’s important "to have fresh faces" serve in positions where "policy is being made."
Council member Jim Costello voted "no," explaining he is not in favor of term limits for commission members. He said it is a volunteer position and a process is already in place where the mayor selects a commission who is then confirmed by council.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.