July 1, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Zoning committee approves changes in Westfield Twp.

WESTFIELD TWP. — Amendments to the township zoning code and map that could allow for multimillion-dollar development on Greenwich Road soon will be before township trustees after the township zoning commission approved the proposed changes Tuesday night.

If approved by trustees, the text amendment would add a general business district to the township’s zoning code and allow for planned unit development, similar to Legacy Village in Lyndhurst.

While the township has a local commercial zone in its code, it only allows for retail buildings up to 7,500 square feet. The five-member commission decided to expand the size of retail space to 40,000 square feet in the general business district. Anything larger must be part of a PUD.

PUDs would be allowed one building more than 100,000 square feet and one more than 50,000 square feet. All others must be less than 50,000 square feet. Hospitals and office buildings would not face size limitations.

“Ideally, we’d like to see quite a bit of offices, but with retail to support those,” commission Chairwoman Heather Sturdevant said.

Hotels, motels, golf courses, car dealerships, off-street parking lots, mini-storage facilities, independent assisted living and nursing homes would not be permitted in the general business district, nor would cluster homes, Sturdevant said.

The commission did add corporate headquarters, conference centers, computer data centers and other high-tech uses to the amendment because the area soon will be connected to Medina County’s fiber optic project, Sturdevant said.

The map amendment the commission approved would rezone approximately 120 acres north of Greenwich Road from local commercial and rural residential to general business district.

Commission member John Miller was the only member to vote no on both changes. He outlined why in a letter before voting, stating he had several concerns, among them whether commercial development was viable in the township.

“We’re closing retail stores everywhere. There doesn’t seem to be a desire for large stores,” he said, citing the downsizing of Kmart and recent announcement that Borders would close in Medina Township.

“Our community doesn’t have the population to support these stores,” he said.

Miller wanted retail size to be limited to 20,000 square feet, but commission member Jill Kemp argued that if changes were going to be made, the code shouldn’t be too restrictive to potential developers.

“We don’t want to be so restrictive nobody can build anything,” she said. “We need to have retail first before offices in order to support the offices.”

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