Residential to industrial rezoning heading to Aurora's fall ballot

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AURORA – One rezoning issue is headed for the Nov. 8 ballot, while another is not after City Council took action June 27.

By Aug. 10, the city will send to the Portage County Board of Elections an issue to rezone 25.4 acres on the west side of Route 43 across from Aurora Industrial Parkway from R-4 residential to I-1 manufacturing, processing and wholesaling.

Aurora 43 South LLC is proposing to erect a 100,000-square-foot industrial building on the land.

The developer believes industrial zoning would be a better fit since uses on properties to the south and east are in character with the I-1 zoning district, and vacant industrial land is getting scarce in the city.

A housing development with 57 units previously was proposed there, and Aurora 43 South LLC officials said changing the zoning would not add children to the local schools and would bring tax dollars into the city.

“The industrial area along Route 43 between Mennonite Road and the southern city limits continues to be a prime location for economic development,” city planning department personnel told the planning commission and Council.

At a public hearing preceding Council’s vote, a couple of residents cited concerns about stormwater runoff and buffering between the proposed building and Rainbow’s End homes.

Law director Dean DePiero said if residents OK the rezoning, the planning commission and engineering department will thoroughly review buffering, landscaping and stormwater issues before a final site plan for the building is approved.

Meanwhile, Council supported the planning panel’s recommendation not to approve a rezoning request for 7.18 acres on Maple Lane Extension, west of Evexia Cafe and north of the Brown-Keidel Service Center, from C-3 planned community shopping to R-S residential senior housing.

If that issue would have gone to voters and been approved, Aurora Partners III had planned to build luxury, independent adult living condominiums there.

Harry Caplan, one of the partners, said a retail development was approved for the property in 1995, but it has been difficult to line up commercial/retail tenants, so the land has remained vacant. R-3, C-1 and C-3 zoning districts surround the parcel.

“I think it would be a better use for the property to build an adult community that’s pet friendly and ADA compliant, with electric car chargers and all the amenities that are needed for people who would like to sell their Aurora homes but remain in Aurora and be as mobile as possible for as long as possible,” Caplan told Council.

DePiero said Council would have first had to create a residential senior housing district before the issue could go to voters because that designation is currently not in the zoning code.

However, the planning department’s staff said the past two city master plans have designated the property for commercial uses such as retail, office, medical and entertainment.

The planning staff also said the residential density being proposed – 20 units per acre while only 2.5 units per acre or less is currently permitted – is much larger than any existing density permitted throughout the city.

“The property is not conducive to residential use,” said the staff’s report. “Higher density residential should be located and serve as a transition area between single-family residential and commercial uses.”

And planning panel chairman Peter French said Caplan had not demonstrated a hardship to justify rezoning.

OTHER BUSINESS

Council authorized an additional $125,000 to be paid to Wertz Geotechnical Engineering Inc. for back-up construction inspection services. The money will come from the developers’ escrow fund.

A modification agreement worth $3,675 with James G. Zupka CPA, was approved. It is for additional auditing services necessary because the city spent more than $750,000 in federal grant money in 2021.

The 2023 tax budget was adopted. It must be forwarded to the Portage County auditor by July 14. Real estate tax millage on the books is expected to generate the following amounts of revenue in 2023:

General fund, $1.96 million; fire/paramedic levy, $960,469; fire protection levy, $174,838; police protection levy, $21,042; road and bridge levy, $565,203; and park land acquisition, $383,474, while income tax revenue is projected at $18.4 million.

The following hirings/promotions were approved: Fire Lt. David Horvath, Fire Capt. Edward Grecol, water crew leader Sonny Ferrante, backup planning-zoning inspector Tylon Hilt and part-time firefighter/paramedic A drivers Daniel Burnett, Jason Dailey, Justin Gvora, Brandon Hall, Tyler Hill, Michael Mickovic and Alexander Wain.

Moving to its second reading is an ordinance amending regulations dealing with the appeals process if the city revokes licensed contractors’ permits. A public hearing was slated for Aug. 15.

Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin reported the city has received a $340,028 refund of collection fees from the Regional Income Tax Agency. That is higher than the $250,000 average the city has received in the past few years.

The mayor said the city has balances of $34.57 million unencumbered in all funds and $14.09 million unencumbered in the general fund. Through May, income tax collections were $1.65 million more than last year.

Contact the newspaper at auroraadvocate@recordpub.com.

This article originally appeared on Record-Courier: Rezoning change from residential to industrial heads to Aurora's ballot