STOW — Council in the upcoming week is expected to vote on one land use plan and solicit residents’ opinions on a proposed rezoning of a golf course property.

Council on Oct. 24 will have its third reading on Ron Marhofer’s plan to build a storage lot for new vehicles for sale at 3932 Kent Road. The proposal for Marhofer’s site plan and conditional use has had its first and second readings at previous meetings; council voted on suspending the rules at each meeting, but each time, did not have enough affirmative votes to move the issue forward for an adoption vote.

At the Oct. 10 meeting, Council President Matt Riehl (Ward 1) said legislators had requested a legal opinion from the law director on the project two weeks before, and had just received it a few hours before the meeting. Riehl said council had requested a definition of the zoning 

Law Director Brendan Mackin said council had asked him to clarify "whether there’s a requirement that the property is enclosed storage or open storage."

Since council has not yet discussed Mackin’s opinion in public, Mackin told the Sentry on Thursday he was conducting research to determine whether his legal opinion was considered a public record. At press time, the Sentry had not yet received the opinion from Mackin.

John Slagter, an attorney representing Marhofer, said the property is zoned Industrial-1 and is also close to the Kent State University Airport.

As part of the site plan, Slagter said the line of trees will be maintained on the western border to provide buffering.

"It’s a very low impact, low traffic utilization for the site," said Slagter. "It’s really necessary as part of our successful dealership here in Stow … This is a good overall use …I think it’ll be an attractive use of the property."

The planning commission in September voted 3-1 to approve the site plan and conditional use. Marhofer told the commission that, after building and expanding the Marhofer Chevrolet dealership at the corner of routes 91 and 59 (Darrow and Kent roads) several years ago, his business was still trying to find enough room for its vehicle inventory. Saying he was looking for a "long-term solution," Marhofer said he felt the proposed site for the Kent Road storage lot, which would hold 400 vehicles, was a "viable option" that was close to his Darrow Road business. 

Marhofer explained the lot would be used to augment his dealership’s inventory and would be used a maximum of five to six times a day. His employees may occasionally take a customer there, said Marhofer, who added passersby won’t be able to see the vehicles from the road and there will be minimal lighting for security.

Marhofer, and a neighboring property owner — Mark Baxter — worked out a deal that addressed concerns raised by Baxter. Marhofer agreed to move his planned lot so that it would be 17 feet from the Baxters’ property line; the plan approved by the planning commission had the lot 13 1/2 feet from the property line. Marhofer said he also agreed to move the chain link fence away from the Baxters’ property and inside the tree line bordering the Baxters’ property.

Public hearing on proposed rezoning of golf course property

Residents will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed rezoning of Fox Den Golf Course during a public hearing hosted by council on Oct. 24 at 5:30 p.m.

Council is currently examining legislation to rezone the golf course land from a residential classification to a conservation district. Council members Mike Rasor (At Large) and Sindi Harrison (Ward 2) are spearheading the effort to rezone the 137-acre property.

Harrison 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 if the golf course is no longer there. Both Rasor and Harrison said they support the rezoning and other potential land use restrictions because they want to see more green space maintained.

Harrison said the proposal is also in line with 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."

Fox Den Golf Course opened in 1966. The city of Stow bought Fox Den in 2006 for a price of $5.5 million.

Council asked the planning commission to examine the issue. The commission in August voted 3-1 to recommend rezoning Fox Den from residential to conservation.

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