WESTFIELD TWP. — Members of the township’s zoning commission aren’t voting yet on whether to approve a zoning change that could allow for a multimillion-dollar development near the Interstate 71 and U.S. Route 224 interchange. First, they’re making sure they have the information required to make the decision.
The zoning commission heard from speakers Tuesday night on what impact a development could have on the area.
The commission is scheduled to hear from several more speakers at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Westfield municipal complex, 6699 Buffham Road. It also will hold a public hearing there at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 to hear more resident input.
“We’re just trying to do our research, get as much information as we can,” commission member Jill Kemp said Wednesday.
Earlier this year, 23 township residents filed requests to amend both the township zoning text and map. The text amendment would create a new commercial and residential zoning type called General Business District, which would allow for buildings much larger than the township’s current zoning code permits.
The map amendment would rezone 407 acres owned by the 23 applicants along Greenwich Road to the proposed General Business District.
“This is a rural community, and this project could potentially change the entire face of our community,” Heather Sturdevant, chairwoman of the zoning board, said last month.
Proponents of the zoning changes have said it will bring commercial development to an area that hasn’t seen much of it.
“The primary benefit of it is the convenience of the shopping, (and) creating jobs and offices (and) places for people to work close to home,” said attorney Stan Scheetz, who represents all the applicants.
The amendments could allow for homes, banks, movie theaters, hospitals, offices, hotels and car dealerships. Scheetz said 20 percent to 30 percent of the land would be retail development, up to half would be open space, much of it would be office space and another significant proportion would be “nontraditional housing” like cluster homes or condominiums.
Opponents have feared the development could bring “big box” stores and other large retailers that the area may not have the population to support. Residents presented a petition with 127 signatures at a zoning commission meeting last month that asked the board to vote down the application.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the zoning commission heard input from three experts.
Andy Vidra of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency spoke of the possibility of bringing sewers to the area. He said Wednesday that his agency sometimes acts as a moderator for sewer issues in Northeast Ohio.
He said Westfield Village’s or Seville’s waste-water treatment plant may be able to reach the area with sewer lines. However, he said it could be a stretch.
“It is possible, if all the cards fall right, that sewers could be extended to this area and that would be required for the kind of zoning that’s been proposed,” Vidra said. He said if that’s possible, it would be up to township and county officials to approve sewers to the area.
Jeff VanLoon of the Medina County Soil and Water Conservation District told the zoning commission Tuesday night of a recent land-use study for the area. He said that the Upper Chippewa Creek Balanced Growth Project found that the area could be used for both development and conservation.
VanLoon noted that the area’s proximity to interstates 71 and 76 and U.S. Route 224 could be a major draw.
“It seems to me it would be an attraction to certain businesses,” he said. However, he cautioned that there are several other factors that would have developers taking caution. For example, he said about 95 acres lie on a flood plain, which means there are several rules developers would have to follow.
“That’s certainly an area that if you were to go in there and build something, there are additional costs,” he said.
Medina County Highway Engineer Mike Salay spoke to the zoning commission Tuesday about traffic in the area. He said the nearby intersection of Lake Road and Route 224 already has been expanded as far as it can.
“It works pretty good now and there’s additional capacity” for traffic, he said.
However, he said that depending on what kind of development occurs in the area, it’s not guaranteed the intersection will be able to support a lot of new traffic.
Zoning Commission member Kemp said representatives from the Muskingum Watershed Conservation District and the county’s economic development, sanitary engineer’s and sheriff’s offices are set to speak at the Oct. 26 meeting.
Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.