The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is accepting public comments on a proposed project to restore a section of the Aurora Branch of the Chagrin River on the grounds of Aurora Country Club.
The city of Aurora would acquire the private golf course, which would close, and the land would become a conservation area subject to city- imposed use restrictions.
If approved, the project would protect 13 acres of high-quality wetlands to natural conditions and restore about 7,000 linear feet of stream banks on the golf course at 50 Trails End.
The project also includes 33 acres that would be converted from golf course to forested riparian corridor/flood plain, restoring headwater streams and removal of a dam.
That section of the stream has been degraded by physical alterations, the EPA said.
The restored property also would boost protection for the adjacent Aurora Audubon Sanctuary.
The plan revolves around the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District getting a lower-interest, state-backed rate on its $42.7 million loan to upgrade the Southerly sewage plant in the Cleveland suburb of Cuyahoga Heights. With those savings, the sewer district would provide $4.76 million for the Aurora project.
The city would acquire 191 acres of the golf course from Aurora Recreation LLC.
Aurora Recreation would keep the clubhouse and 6.7 acres that are commercially zoned and 6 acres of residential land.
The city would use $3.9 million from the sewer district for land acquisition and $690,000 for the habitat work, EPA spokesman Mike Settles said.
The city has plans to acquire the golf club with help from the Cleveland office of the Trust for Public Land, a national land-conservation group.
The Aurora stream work would begin next spring and be completed in 2014 if plans were approved.
The assessment is available at http://epa.ohio.gov/Portals/29/public%20comment%20docs/Aurora%20Branch%20EA.pdf.
The EPA said it is aware of local opposition to the project and that’s why it scheduled the public-comment period.
Comments must be submitted by Dec. 14. They should be sent to: Steve Malone, Ohio EPA-DEFA, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, OH 43216, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or email@example.com.