The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 29, 2012

Conneaut City Council ready to receive golf course housing plan

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — City Council in Conneaut is anxious to begin its review of a proposed housing development targeted for the former Conneaut Shores Golf Course property, Council President Thomas Udell said Wednesday.

“We’ve received no formal request from the Planning Commission,” he said. “We’ll begin our work as soon as it’s received.”

Earlier this month, the Planning Commission held a public hearing on a four-phase program that could put more than 100 houses on the 75-plus acres that once held the lakefront golf course. After the hearing, members formally endorsed the proposal.

There’s more work ahead for the commission, however, before the matter comes before council, said Law Director David Schroeder. The panel must prepare a formal resolution, approved by the group’s chairman, that requests council’s review, he said. A sample resolution has been given to the commission, Schroeder said.

At issue is “The Shores,” a partnership between BuildWorks and landowner James Farmakis. As outlined by BuildWorks’ Vincent Rose at the hearing, his firm plans to construct cottage- and bungalow-style houses on the property in phases. The first phase involves single-family dwellings that would front Lake Road, while the second phase would create a “community” of smaller houses accessed from Whitney Road.

Approximately half of the land, dotted by brush and small trees and barely resembles a golf course, would be developed, Rose has said. Land would be purchased from Farmakis as houses are sold, he said.

The project earned rave reviews from many of the people at the public hearing, including some neighbors that had opposed similar housing plans in the past. The difference this time is the developers’ approach. They are pursuing the project as a planned unit development, which locks them in to a specific project that would be approved and monitored by local government.

Previously, Farmakis had sought to rezone the land, with no intention of developing it himself, to make it more valuable to a buyer. Neighbors objected, saying it opened the door to unknown development.

Once the project is in council’s hands, its members can suggest changes to the project. If council approves, the proposal goes back to the Planning Commission, which can then authorize the developer to prepare drawings and specifications that would need review before the final and official blessing is given.

Udell said he has heard plenty of good things about the housing project. “Most everything has been positive,” he said.