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Developer Backs Out Of Pepper Pike Proposal, But Rezoning Remains On Ballot

As early voting begins in Cuyahoga County, some residents of Pepper Pike are calling for removal of a ballot issue meant to create a mixed-use district.

Axiom Development Group is no longer pursuing a proposed mixed-use development on the former Beech Brook childcare and family resources site, said Bryan Stone, the developers’ spokesman.

Months of public input on the Axiom proposal were meant to help create a plan to use the space in a way everyone could be happy with, he said, but “a lot of the discussions that ended up happening as part of this public process just were not that.”

The development was meant to be a collaborative effort with the city to create something residents would want and enjoy, he said.

“It became evident that that type of collaboration wasn’t going to be possible,” Stone said.

But Pepper Pike residents will still vote on a related ballot initiative to create a mixed-use overlay district for the area. The petition to include rezoning on the ballot was filed on behalf of the Beech Brook property, Stone said, and the decision to remove the ballot issue is up to its current owners, not Axiom.

“We submitted our petition for signatures on behalf of the property,” Stone said. “We’re leaving it to the property owner’s discretion as to what happens to the actual ballot issue itself.”

Beech Brook doesn’t plan to remove the issue from the ballot, said President and CEO Tom Royer. The sale of the property has been in discussion for two years, he said, and as the property owners, Beech Brook management needs to consider the options before moving forward.

“I know everybody really wants to know what we’ll be doing. We really just aren’t there yet,” Royer said. “We’re going to take a couple of weeks to kind of regroup and assess our options going forward.”

There are no current offers to purchase or develop the property, he said, nor does Beech Brook have a preference for what is done with the land after its sold.

“Our job is to make the best use of the asset that we have so we can help more kids and families that need it,” Royer said.

Leaving the issue on the ballot after publicly halting the development will confuse voters, argued Judi Naft with the Say No To Rezone Political Action Committee.

"They may not mark their ballots because of that," Naft said. "It feels, in our opinion, to be very deceptive."

Say No To Rezone is calling on the Pepper Pike City Council to update the zoning code with measures prohibiting mixed-use in Pepper Pike, Naft said.

Mixed-use developments aren’t appropriate in the neighborhood and would add traffic and congestion in the area, said PAC co-founder Manny Naft. The PAC has initiated discussions with Western Reserve Land Conservancy to see what would be required to turn the land into a park, he said.

“We are one house per acre,” he said. “That is what identifies the definition of Pepper Pike and the core values on the characteristics of the city.”

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