Last night’s city council meeting

Here are my notes from last night’s meeting:

Greenspace Preservation – Last month, I told you about Sindi Harrison and my plan to rezone Fox Den Golf Course, from residential to Conservation.

That was Stage 1.

Last night, I unveiled Stage 2: A proposal to rezone hundreds more acres of greenspace, for the purpose of either (1) preserving its current use, or (2) eliminating the potential for development, whether it be retail or housing. That list includes: Roses Run Country Club (the golf course, not the Pambi Farms lots), Kent State Airport (without affecting KSU’s ability to run the flight school or airport), Marsh Road water reclamation facility, and about 100 acres of parcels in the northwest quadrant of Stow (south of Windham Ridge, northwest of the Hudson Drive Walmart).

Is there a current threat that these parcels will be developed? No. Not now. Possibly not ever. But if we wait for a threat, it will have been too late. While Roses Run is an operational golf course today, it would be foolish to ignore the national trend of courses closing down (especially ones with housing developments). While KSU intends to maintain an airport today, it’s easy to envision a new regime that someday decides to wait out the FAA restrictions and then sell to a housing developer for $15 million.

Think about it this way … People were really upset that Leisure Time closed down, and a housing development took its place. City Council wasn’t thrilled about it either. But the property was zoned residential, and that fact tied our hands. Or how about Fox Den Golf Course. Prior to 2006, it was privately owned. With the land being zoned residential, the owners of Fox Den were able to threaten a sale to developers and hold that over the city leaders’ heads: Poof, there went $5.5 million of your tax dollars.

This is a long play. And it’s not permanent. City leaders may someday think that light-industrial development is appropriate on Kent Road, in place of the airport. But at least they will have a decision to make.

It may sound dumb to do this when there is no threat of development. I’d say it’s dumber to wait until it’s too late.

Council voted 6-0 to pass these rezoning recommendations along to the Planning Commission, which will then study them and report back to council. The Planning Commission agreed with our recommendations concerning Fox Den, and there is a public hearing on that rezoning proposal, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall on Oct. 24.

City Center Committee – By a 6-0 vote, council amended the SKIP committee legislation, expanding the committee’s membership and its scope. Now, there will be 18 members, such that the Mayor will be able to appoint any of the existing committee members that he wishes. This new committee will examine and make recommendations concerning the entire City Center property, not just the playground. It will also be more transparent, with reporting duties and open meetings. We spent a lot of time putting together the structure of this committee. Part of me thinks the lengthy discussion was overkill, but the other part of me believes this committee, now that it’s formulated with the right expertise and constituencies, will be the City’s most important commission for the next two years–so we needed to do it right.

Next Meeting – Council will meet next on Sept. 26.