Plan for Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall in Aurora gets preliminary OK

Ken Lahmers
Correspondent
This illustration shows the layout of the proposed Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall property on Route 43 south of Mantua Grain & Supply.

AURORA – A local Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation moved one step closer to the construction of a Kingdom Hall on Route 43 across from Aurora Farms Premium Outlets with the planning commission’s Sept. 2 approval of a preliminary site plan.

The congregation is seeking to build a 2,832-square-foot Kingdom Hall for worship and religious activities on a 2.1-acre parcel south of Mantua Grain & Supply and east of Leighton School. The parcel is owned by ABR Management LLC of Pepper Pike, and is in an O-1 office zoning district.

The building is expected to seat about 130 people and have a parking lot to accommodate 46 cars. Access to the parking lot would be off Route 43.

A conditional zoning certificate for comparable use was approved May 28, 2019, and a front parking variance of 12 feet was OK’d by the board of zoning appeals on Aug. 12.

Planning-Zoning-Building Director Denise Januska said a traffic study has been reviewed, and the level of service needs to be addressed before final site plan approval. She said there are no wetlands on the property.

Mark Stoner, representing JW Congregational Support, said he can’t estimate when excavation/construction would begin at the site, but noted two vacant houses there must first be demolished. He said an asbestos analysis has been completed on those houses.

In November 2015, the planning panel denied a CZC for a family entertainment center on the site, and City Council later upheld the denial on appeal. The actions followed widespread public opposition to the plan.

According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses website, the group “strives to adhere to the form of Christianity that Jesus taught and that his apostles practiced.”

“All of our meetings are open to the public, seats are free and no collections are ever taken,” JW rep Marco Iafano previously told the planning panel. “Families are encouraged to come together and learn principles that help build successful families.”

He explained activity at the site would mostly occur on a mid-week night and Sunday mornings. He estimated 30 to 40 vehicles would be in the parking lot for worship services and would not produce any negative traffic impacts.

“Having a place of worship on this property would not significantly alter the nature of the district; rather it would help maintain the current characteristics of it,” he said, adding the building would be designed in the Western Reserve style.

This map shows the location of a proposed 16-lot housing development on the east side of Route 43 between the Barrington tennis/swim club and the Atrium at Anna Maria.

In other action, panelists accepted for study a preliminary site plan for a 16-lot housing development on 7.8 acres on the east side of Route 43 between the Barrington tennis/swim club and the Atrium at Anna Maria.

Breezy Point Limited Partnership spokesman Rob Benjamin said ProBuilt Homes of Mentor plans to build homes ranging from 1,800 to 2,500 square feet, which would cost in the low $400,000 range. Most would be ranch-style, but a handful could be two stories.

There would be a single cul de sac street called Iris Place off Route 43 into the development. The homes would have garages facing that street, but not visible to traffic on Route 43.

Januska said a conditional zoning certificate for the parcel was approved by City Council on March 23, 2020. A traffic study and stormwater and improvement plans are required before final site plan approval.

Contact the newspaper at 330-541-9433, or auroraadvocate@recordpub.com.