NORTHFIELD CENTER — Settlement of a longstanding dispute between the township and Spitzer A-Team over zoning of acreage surrounding the Spitzer Chevrolet dealership on Route 82 may be near.
Township trustees approved a memorandum of understanding Wednesday, which, if favored by a Summit County Common Pleas Court judge and the Macedonia-Northfield Center JEDD board, would lead to rezoning 16.6 acres from residential to commercial.
It also likely would result in the dismissal of Spitzer’s lawsuit against the township, which was filed about a year ago after trustees denied Spitzer’s request to rezone the property.
If a consent decree is not granted by the court on or before April 30, however, the memorandum will expire unless further extended upon mutual agreement.
“Our legal counsel has been working for months to resolve this matter, and the parties have talked about a number of issues,” said Trustee Chairman Russ Mazzola. “This memorandum gives the township some protections ... If the township would have continued to fight the lawsuit and eventually lost, we could have ended up with no protections.”
After approving the memo, trustees would not comment further or answer some residents’ questions as advised by their legal counsel, saying the matter is still in litigation until the judge grants a consent decree.
Spitzer owns 43.7 acres of vacant land around the dealership — 6.1 along Route 82 that is already zoned commercial and the remainder zoned residential. The settlement would allow 16.6 acres behind the dealership to be rezoned commercial, with 21 acres further north remaining residential.
Spitzer had filed a complaint against the township last year asking that the court compel the township to rezone the property to C-1 commercial.
Spitzer questioned the existing residential zoning classification and said that because there is no current roadway access from the lot to Routes 8 or 82, because there is a telecommunications tower on the property and because the land is close to other commercially zoned land, “it is not reasonable to expect the property can be developed for single-family residences.”
The complaint also cites the fact that the Summit County Planning Commission favored the proposed rezoning to C-1.
When the rezoning request was initiated in late 2015, the Meijer grocery store chain was interested in purchasing the property, saying its store would bring about 250 jobs to the township.
Spitzer officials have since said the deal is not definite.