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Developer balks at request for paved trail

Plan for Old Mill Creek park space to be worked out

SOLON– Everyone was apparently surprised.
Developer Cory Hodapp was surprised to find out he was expected to pay for an emergency siren and a paved trail around a detention pond in the third addition of the Old Mill Creek subdivision.
City Administrator Cami Rasmussen went him one better.
“If it’s a surprise to Cory, then I’m surprised that it’s a surprise,” Rasmussen said during a March 1 Solon City Council meeting.
It was all part of a lengthy discussion surrounding the consideration of a developer’s agreement for a new phase of the residential subdivision on the city’s western edge.
Both the developer’s agreement and construction plans for Old Mill Creek Part 3 were on the agenda for council members, and both passed, but not without some strained interaction.
In the end, council members and Hodapp agreed for some flexibility in providing park space in the overall development.
The original Old Mill Creek subdivision started in 2000, but lay dormant for lack of a second access until resurrected in 2015 by Hodapp. Hodapp came to the city with the idea of a new zoning district for reduced-width lot sizes which could be utilized in portions of Old Mill Creek, but council members declined.
A preliminary plat was subsequently submitted to the Solon Planning and Zoning Commission, but languished because of wetland mitigation. Council members approved the preliminary plat in November 2016, contingent on wetlands permit approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the developer’s agreement.
At the March 1 meeting, Hodapp said previous councils had informally agreed to accept an 8.5-acre outlot on the northwest edge of Part 3 as a park space.
Instead, the developer’s agreement before council members sought to have Hodapp install an 8-foot hard surface trail around a drainage basin, as well as to install an emergency siren.
He sought to negotiate not only the trail requirement, but also the connection fees required by the city for water and sewer service.
Council members weren’t willing to bend on the connection fees, but were more inclined to consider other options for park space.
“What’s the point of having a connection fee if we’re going to continually change the amount?” asked Mayor Steve Stange.
For budgeting purposes, Hodapp asked to have the same connection fee for all of the remainder of the development, including future phases.
“If I have a future expense that I can’t pin down, I don’t know where I’m going to be at in five years,” Hodapp explained.
“It’s kind of the same for us,” council member Mark Prentice said. “We don’t know where we’re going be then either.”
Council members agreed with Stange to have the development pay connection fees per lot based on the connection fee at the time of the hookup.
But they were more open to compromise on the issue of the walking trail.
According to Hodapp, the construction of a trail had not been discussed in any previous conversations with the city.
He asked the council to waive the requirement.
At a 2015 meeting, Hodapp said, he and council members discussed the donation of property to the city, specifically, the wooded 8.5 acres on the northwest edge of the addition, for use by the city.
“For us to put in an 8-foot trail is another added cost that we didn’t know about until a week ago, or a week and a half ago,” Hodapp said. “I don’t know anything about it, it’s just thrown in there.”
Hodapp said he was willing to do what was previously discussed, but indicated he couldn’t bear the expense of building a trail for the city.
Mayor Stange contended the construction of a trail was part of the original discussion, but City Administrator Rasmussen pointed out those were only discussions.
Rasmussen said the city had updated park requirements in the city’s comprehensive plan in the time that passed since the Old Mill Creek addition was first discussed, and contended Hodapp had been present for a lot of meetings where the requirements were discussed.
“We’ve been talking about these (park requirements and emergency sirens) throughout this entire last two years,” Rasmussen said.
“For me, it’s one or the other,” said council member Steve Duncan. “The discussions to me were very clear, that as we proceed with a development of this size, that some form of recreation– park, whatever– would be included in that development.”
Duncan said he didn’t care whether Hodapp provided a park space or a trail.
“Something has to come in there,” he said. “Whatever it is that best fits.”
Hodapp said he was happy to provide the space for a recreational amenity, but couldn’t afford the cost of building and appointing it.
“I would like to have further discussions on that,” Hodapp said. “This was just dropped on us here last week.”
Stange countered that Hodapp had been aware of the city’s desire for park space.
“I don’t want you to play it that we haven’t been talking about it because we have,” he said.
Hodapp agreed, but noted no specifics were discussed.
Stange said if Hodapp didn’t want to do the trail, he would have to provide a space for playground equipment for use by neighborhood children.
Hodapp agreed, but said it would have to be part of a future phase.
Stange said the details should be added to the agreement. “Because a $400 slide isn’t going to cut it,” he said.
Council members approved the developer’s agreement, with the condition that park space be provided before the next phase, on a 3-0 vote.