Zoning rules stall senior development

by Jeff Saunders | Reporter Published:

Macedonia -- City officials say a plan to construct a senior citizen development, including homes, senior living building and an assisted living facility, on Faith Fellowship Church property has hit a major stumbling block because the land is not zoned properly to allow for much of the project.

The church is on the north side of Valley View Road, east of Route 8.

Preliminary site plans for the project came before the city's planning commission Jan. 28. According to a memorandum sent to the commission by City Planner Brian Frantz, while the 44 homes shown on the plans would be allowed under the property's R-1 single family home zoning, a 50-unit, three-story senior living building and 50-bed, one-story assistant living facility would not and the property would have to be rezoned to R-SC senior citizen residential.

Mayor Don Kuchta, who chairs the planning commission, said rezoning an R-1 district has to be approved by voters.

"We have hurdles," said Kuchta. "Hurdle number one is the redistricting and rezoning and that's a biggie because it has to be done by referendum."

Joel Testa, chief executive officer of Cuyahoga Falls-based developer Testa Companies, told the commission that he had been under the impression that the two buildings could be included within the R-1 district as a planned unit development, along with the homes, because they are residential in nature.

"The only thing allowed in a PUD is single family homes," said Commission member Ed Morris.

"I wish we had been clear on that," said Testa.

Testa said that while his company may seek a rezoning of the property as early as the Aug. 6 special election, it would not allow for an application this year of "senior tax credits" from the state that are crucial in financing the project.

"This has to have proper zoning by Feb. 18 this year," he said.

Testa told the News Leader after the meeting that while his company and the church, which are developing the project together, may opt to move forward with the construction of the homes this year, he doubts it.

"More than likely, we won't do anything until next year," he said.

According to the plans, the homes, which are described as "cottage style," would be on about 5.5 acres at the eastern edge of the church property off Valley View Road, while the two buildings would be to the property's rear. The senior living building would be about 67,900 square feet on three floors and the assisted living building would be 22,635 square feet. Both buildings would also have parking lots. The church is at the western edge of the property, fronting the road.

According to Summit County property records, the church property totals about 52 acres.

Kuchta offered to assist the developers in getting the project done.

"Now we have to go back to the drawing board and I'm sorry, but the door is open," he said.

Kuchta said that Summit Pointe, an assisted living facility just to the south of the City Center, was subject to a similar ballot referendum several years ago before it could be built.

"We're not trying to be difficult," Kuchta told the News Leader. "We're just trying to follow the rules."

Email: jsaunders@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9432

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