CUYAHOGA FALLS: Development of the former Sycamore Valley Golf Course is expected to start in two weeks, after the $35 million housing project’s first phase was approved by city legislators at their final meeting before summer break. The project will eventually include 140 housing units on 28.3 acres.

City Council voted 10-1 on July 22 in favor of the first of three phases for the Villages at Sycamore project being built by Sycamore Valley Development Co. LLC on the former Sycamore Valley Golf Course on Akron Peninsula Road. The developer is Danny Karam and Ryan Homes will construct the homes.

Council member Russ Iona (R-8) cast the dissenting vote.

Greg Modic, who represents Karam, said 40 two-story town homes and three single-family detached homes will be constructed in the first phase. He noted he hopes that Ryan Homes will begin work on a model home in mid-August and said the plan is for that structure to be finished this winter. From there, Ryan Homes will start the sales process and then build the structures once a certain number of sales have been made.

The second phase will consist of 46 single-story, ranch-style town homes and three more single-family detached houses, according to Modic. The third phase will have 51 two-story town homes. He said his goal is to ask planning commission and city council to approve the second and third phases by the end of this year.

In April, despite objections raised by many residents, a majority of council agreed to rezone the land from E-1 Employment District to R-3 Sub-Urban Density Residential to allow for the construction of this development. The vote happened after a series of 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.

Some residents again shared their concerns with council at the planning and zoning committee meeting on July 15. After the July 22 meeting vote, resident Gina Burk said, "The City of Cuyahoga Falls continues to favor the developer over their land-owning, tax-paying citizens’ rights to have their city ensure their public's health, safety and welfare be a priority for them. All of our request for third party assessments seem to be deferred to the developer."

Burk said she and other residents "repeatedly" asked the city for, but did not receive a list of chemicals that were used on the golf course, projected costs to tax payers and time frames for development of both the barn the city acquired and the Mud Brook Towpath Trail Connection Plan, and costs of mutual aid agreements with the city of Akron.

For next steps, Burk said she and other residents are "considering our options."

Modic said he felt "we really have gone above and beyond" in addressing stormwater management and conservation issues in the area. He noted when Karam began the project last fall, the city had not yet adopted the stricter stormwater management guidelines that it now has. Modic said legally he could’ve operated under the old, more lenient guidelines and even built a couple more units, but instead felt "it was our best foot forward to" understand the new regulations and follow those for the project.

Modic said he walked through the area and spoke with some neighbors who live next to Mudbrook Creek about their concerns.

Modic this development is being built "such that we’re far enough away and above the flood plain that the new units we’re building are not going to be impacted by that in any way shape or form."

He added ponds will be installed to handle water quality at the project site and the flood plain will be converted from "mowed, manicured grass" to one with plants and vegetation to filter water that will benefit "the entire watershed."

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