GREEN DeHoff Development and the city of Green are hoping to put an end to a lawsuit, which could pave the way for a shopping center. During the May 8 council meeting, Green City Council heard a presentation from DeHoff about its vision for property located at the corner of Arlington and Boettler roads.
The city and DeHoff have been at odds due to a zoning change for the Spring Hill property, which would limit the size of retail buildings. DeHoff and Green Land Trust Ltd (GLT) filed a lawsuit against the city in September due to the issue. GLT is an Ohio liability company, which owns the property that is being developed by DeHoff.
The disagreement comes because, up until 2009, the classification of Green's B-1 zoning allowed for a retail complex building to be up to 225,000 square feet. A change in 2009, however, put a limit of the size of the building to only be 10,000 square feet. In the court docket, DeHoff stated it wasn't notified of the change which was a violation of the development agreement it had entered into with the city in 2003.
DeHoff Vice President Beth Borda gave a presentation to City Council and said the company wants to continue with its vision for Spring Hill. Borda said DeHoff is no stranger to the city as it developed AkCan Industrial Park, which is where more than 50 companies are located. DeHoff also constructed the Hilton Garden Inn near the Akron-Canton Airport and is developing Union Square, where Aldi is being built.
Borda said DeHoff tends to hold onto properties for a long time and it has been working to develop Spring Hill for 20 years. The 240-acre piece of property consists of a housing development and the Goddard School, with future hopes for office and retail to be added.
Borda said DeHoff was never made aware of the 2009 zoning change. She said DeHoff believes the city is trying to take away its property rights and wants to see the original agreement honored.
City officials also believe it is not in the best interest to continue the legal battle. Borda said DeHoff would also like to settle the lawsuit.
If approved by council, Borda said DeHoff envisions a community shopping center in the area similar to Nobles Pond in Jackson Township or Washington Square in North Canton. She said it would serve the immediate area and would have detailed landscaping, trail connections and be a gathering place for people.
"We have found Washington Square and Nobles Pond to be popular," Borda said.
The agreement states there would 112 acres of land used for business development such as office and retail. Permitted under the agreement would be one single-user retail building up to 100,000 square feet with another 100,000 square feet of additional retail space that may include two structures up to 25,000 square feet each and the remainder no more than 10,000 square feet. The existing agreement is only based on a concept plan and there are no proposed businesses at this time.
At one time DeHoff considered a big box store for the site, but that no longer is a viable option. Borda said there are no tenants or a timeframe for the retail portion of the project.
Young said all the buildings will go through entire city process of going before the Design Review Board and the Planning and Zoning Commission.
"These kind of developments don’t just pop up overnight," Borda said. "We develop them over a long period of time."
She said the Washington Square development took 20 years to be completely built.
The agreement also includes professional office buildings within a 300-foot buffer adjacent to residential properties in Spring Hill. There are also plans to construct the Village of St. Edwards, a senior living facility on a portion of the site.
Drawings for the project show a new road being constructed off Arlington Road which would run east into the project and connect into Fortuna Drive. There is also a future connection to connect the road into the existing Brigantine Avenue in the Spring Hill neighborhood.
Councilman Bob Young said council has the option to end the litigation with the legislation agreement. He said DeHoff met with the residents of Spring Hill, who live directly to the east of where DeHoff wants to develop. While residents in Spring Hill generally weren’t happy with the plan, they have a better understanding of what to expect, Young said. He thanked DeHoff for taking the time to meet and talk with the residents.
Councilman Rocco Yeargin raised questions about what exactly the buffer zone is. Borda said there will be mounding in the landscaping along with trees. She said DeHoff is open to looking into fencing but there will be 300 feet between homes and retail.
Yeargin also raised concerns about adding traffic to Arlington Road. Green Planning Director Wayne Wiethe said the city is trying to get funding through AMATS to make improvements from Boettler Road to September Drive. He said the city doesn’t have funding yet, but it is something his department is looking into.
Green Mayor Gerard Neugebauer said when the city entered discussions with DeHoff, the question of how building a large retail center on a two lane road came up. He said he would like to see the development and the road improvements go hand-in-hand.
Neugebauer said traffic studies will have to be done of the road, but nothing is set in stone as far as improvements. He also said a lot of the focus of development in the city has been on Massillon Road and now the focus will shift to Arlington Road.
Resident Pat Carleski said she is not against development but doesn’t want to see harm to her neighborhood. Carleski lives in the neighborhood on the west side of Arlington Road and has concerns about additional traffic. She said it is great DeHoff met with all the families in Spring Hill, but encouraged them to meet with the 132 families on the west side of Arlington Road where she lives.
Resident and former Councilwoman Lynda Smole agrees with Carleski about a meeting with the families on the west side of Arlington Road. Smole also raised concerns about stormwater and feels that DeHoff should pay for Arlington Road to be widened.
"I don’t think the city should be paying for it," Smole said.
Council is likely to vote on the agreement during its May 22 meeting.