Trees to come down on Pulte’s Aurora housing site to make way for housing project

Ken Lahmers
Special to the Aurora Advocate
This rendering shows the location of the proposed Renaissance at Geauga Lake East subdivision. The Pulte Group is felling trees in preparation for development of Phases 1 and 1B (shown in red and blue, respectively). The abandoned Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks are at left, and Treat Road and Tara at Barrington are at bottom.

AURORA – Motorists who drive down Treat Road will see a changing landscape east of the abandoned Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks as trees are removed on the north side to make way for the Pulte Group’s Renaissance Park at Geauga Lake East housing project.

The city’s planning commission allowed an exception Feb. 17 so Pulte can begin felling trees for East Phases 1 and 1B prior to preliminary and final site plans being approved. However, no grading or stump grinding is allowed until after final site plan approval.

Pulte’s concept plan for 246 acres of former Sea World/Geauga Lake Park land north of Treat Road and east of Squires Road was OK’d by the planning panel in August 2019 and by City Council about a month later. Part of East Phases 1 and 1B are on the site of a former campground.

The planning panel has accepted for study site plans for East Phases 1 and 1B, as well as Phases 2 and 3 west of the railroad tracks, and final approval is expected soon. Pulte plans to build 306 homes on the entire acreage, with 20 acres near Squires Road reserved for commercial development.

East Phase 1 consists of 20 single-family lots and 1.7 acres of open space, while Phase 1B consists of 30 single-family lots. The entry street into the East portion would align at Treat Road with Tara Drive, which enters the Tara at Barrington subdivision to the south.

Pulte spokesman Jim O’Connor said the tree felling will allow the developer to drop the trees before March 15, when the bat population is expected to return to the area.

After some panelists noted the tree felling could generate a lot of phone calls to city officials from residents wondering what is going on, O’Connor said Pulte would place signs along Treat Road informing passersby that the work has been approved by the city.

WASTEWATER PROJECT

Planning panelists accepted for study a site plan for improvements at the Central wastewater treatment plant on the east side of Route 306 behind Christ Community Chapel, for which the city has budgeted about $9 million, including $5.5 million from the Ohio Public Works Commission.

City Engineer Justin Czekaj said ppgrades will take place over the next 18 months, and the first phase will be to replace an undersized holding tank that is failing with a bigger tank that will allow sludge to be processed there. Sludge currently is being trucked to the Westerly plant.

Czekaj explained the current tank was installed in the late 1970s, and pieces of the new tank will be brought to the site and assembled. Responding to a resident’s question about odor near the plant, he said it shouldn’t be any worse when the project is completed than it is now.

“Having an on-site system at Central will save the city labor and trucking costs, and reduce risks of spills,” said Czekaj. “The project will create a backup system for Westerly sludge processing during periods of maintenance.”

He also noted processing sludge at Central will allow the city to store it on-site during the winter to minimize costs of hauling sludge cakes to a landfill, which is “very expensive.” The project also will include a new electric generator to replace an undersized system.

“All future Central plant projects will use this [first phase] as a building block,” Czekaj said. “It is vitally important to get this first phase correct.”

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