July 23, 2016

Partly sunny

Westfield Twp. considers amending zoning code

WESTFIELD TWP. — The Westfield Township Zoning Commission is considering two amendments to its zoning code that could allow develop­ment along Greenwich Road near interstates 71 and 76.

“This is a rural community, and this project could poten­tially change the entire face of our community,” said Heather Sturdevant, chairwoman of the zoning board.

A public hearing on the amendments at the Westfield municipal complex, 6699 Buffham Road, lasted more than two hours Tuesday and will be continued in October. The commission heard from applicants, lawyers and resi­dents at the meeting and opted not to vote on the amendments until a later date. A text amendment would add General Business District to the township’s zoning code, a “more intense” version of the township’s local commercial zoning. A map amendment would rezone 407 acres along Greenwich Road from rural residential and local commer­cial to the General Business District, if approved by town­ship trustees.

The two amendments were brought forth by more than 20 property owners on the north side of Greenwich Road, south of interstates 71 and 76, and also south of Greenwich Road near Daniels and Hulbert roads.

The text amendment calls for the township to add a Gen­eral Business District to its zoning text. While the town­ship has a local commercial zone in its code, it is very lim­ited, particularly in the square footage allowed for busi­nesses, Sturdevant said.

“The limitation of square footage doesn’t match what they are looking for because it doesn’t allow anchor retail stores,” she said.

Stan Scheetz, attorney for many of the applicants, said that the local commercial zon­ing only allows for buildings smaller than 7,500 square feet. “We’re trying to create a focal point of a business dis­trict that would cater primarily to the residents of Westfield Township,” Scheetz said.

While the text amendment would add a General Business District to the township, the map amendment would rezone 407 acres south and east of interstates 76 and 71 from local commercial and rural residential to General Business District.

“What they’re looking for would allow a bank, movie the­ater, hospital, offices, large and small retail outfits, hotels and car dealerships,” Sturdevant said.

Opponents to the changes feared that developing the area could bring “big box” stores such as Walmart to the area, stores they say the township does not have the population to support, said Leslie Pro­chaska, a Seville Road resident. Prochaska presented a peti­tion to the commission urging them to vote to disapprove the amendments. The petition, which circulated for 10 days, has 127 signatures so far. She said the signers occupy more than 380 acres that are con­tiguous to the properties affected by the amendments.

“In a 2009 township survey (for the comprehensive plan update), 80 percent said ‘no’ to large retail,” she said.

Both amendments were reviewed by the Medina County Planning Commission, which recommended approval with modifications to the text amendment and disapproval of the map amendment, said Patrice Thekan, director of Medina County Planning Ser­vices.

The commission’s recom­mendations are nonbinding, but should be considered in the approval process, she said. The map amendment was recommended for disapproval because it did not fit the town­ship’s comprehensive plan, Thekan said.

“For one thing, it doesn’t say in the comprehensive plan that they want this kind of development in this area,” she said.

Contact Lisa Hlavinka at (330) 721-4048 or lhlavinka@medina-gazette.com.