CUYAHOGA FALLS — Despite objections raised by many residents, a majority of City Council agreed Monday to rezone a golf course property as the first of several steps to allow the construction of a 148-unit townhome development on Akron-Peninsula Road.

Council voted 7-4 to change the zoning of the Sycamore Valley Golf Course, 1651 Akron-Peninsula Road, from E-1 employment district to R-3 sub-urban density residential. The rezoning was requested by developer Danny Karam and Sycamore Valley Development Co. LLC for the project in which Ryan Homes would build the homes.

The vote happened after a series of Planning Commission and City Council meetings in which many residents who live near the property opposed the rezoning due to concerns about flooding, traffic volume and issues related to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Council members Russ Iona, Adam Miller, Mary Nichols-Rhodes and Drew Reilly voted against the rezoning.

Council member Tim Gorbach, who backed the rezoning, said: “If we call the developer’s bluff ... we send the message as a city that we don’t want anything but a commercial development.”

He added many residents have indicated they would prefer a commercial development, but said “I don’t believe that to be our best-case scenario.” If a commercial development did occur, Gorbach said the city would still be dealing with water and traffic concerns, but the plan “would not include saving current structures, creating a trail and a trailhead, as well as less total impervious surfaces.”

Those are elements included in Karam’s plan for the townhome project.

Iona said while he thought Karam’s development was a “great project,” he voted against the rezoning because he was concerned about flooding issues.

“I did not feel that we addressed the flooding,” said Iona. “The builder had a plan for it, but it’s been flooded. They’re going to put more units down there. I just wasn’t convinced that it wouldn’t make the problem worse.”

When asked, a group of five or six residents declined to offer comment immediately after the vote.

Greg Modic, who represents Karam, said he felt the approval of the rezoning was the “right decision for the city.

“We’re certainly very well aware of the concerns of residents,” said Modic. “We’ve listened to them. We’ll continue to listen to them throughout the process.”

Modic said the next step is for Karam to bring an overlay plan and a preliminary subdivision plan to Planning Commission and then to City Council.

 

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.