Avon voters will be asked to set minimum lot size in Charter on ballot

Avon

By Rebecca Turman

Avon City Council members agreed Monday night to submit to Avon voters on the November ballot the question of amending the Avon charter to set minimum lot sizes for single-family homes as 100 feet in width by 150 feet in length, or 15,000 square feet.

Last month, Avon Mayor Jim Smith asked City Council members to consider placing the charter amendment on the ballot in an attempt to help reduce flooding in the city and to prevent more cluster developments from coming into Avon.

According to Smith, setting a minimum lot size in the city charter would keep it in place for a longer period of time. Council members or city officials who want to change the size in the future would have to put it to a vote of the people.

While 100 feet by 150 feet is already the city’s current standard for lot sizes, council did discuss changing it to 110 by 160 feet.

Councilman Clint Pelfrey said he spoke to a few residents about establishing the minimum lot sizes.

“They didn’t believe that this would be a solution to the flooding issue,” he said.

Avon City Engineer Rob Knopf said at the Monday night meeting if lot sizes are increased, in conjunction with site setbacks, it decreases the amount of impervious area in subdivisions, which, in turn, decreases the amount of stormwater runoff.

“By decreasing the amount of impervious area, you also end up decreasing pipe sizes and retention ponds,” he said.

Council members, along with several audience members, had a lengthy discussion on the minimum lot size before the Monday-night vote.

After Councilman Dan Urban questioned whether certain subdivisions would be grandfathered in (should the charter amendment pass), Avon Law Director John Gasior clarified that “if you have a preliminary plat already established and Planning Commission has already approved that preliminary plat, I believe … they would not be affected.”

Planning Coordinator Jim Piazza said preliminary plat approvals from the commission are good for one year. They must be extended by the developer after the year expires.

“They can change phase lines, but not street layouts,” Piazza said, in order for the developers to be grandfathered in.

“I’m real comfortable with the 150 by 100,” Councilman Bryan Jensen said. “We want to do away with clustering. It’s always come back to bite us.”

Urban agreed one of the main objectives in setting a minimum is to get rid of cluster developments.

“This has nothing to do with clustering. That’s dead on arrival,” Councilman Dennis McBride said, noting cluster developments currently aren’t permitted in Avon. “The point is to decrease the impervious area. We need to take care of this problem.”

Jensen noted any future council could bring clusters back to Avon if it wanted, but with a minimum lot size set in the charter, it would make it harder to do so.

“The charter amendment is the fallback,” Smith said. “We want voters to have a say in it. There’s a lot of changes that have to be made (to reduce flooding).”

“My biggest fear down the road 20 years from now … I still think we need more Avenburys for my kids to have a place for me to stay,” said Avon Planning Commission member Bill Fitch. “We made mistakes on Planning Commission. I think we are giving cluster more of a bad name than what it is.”

Fitch said he’s sure voters will pass the amendment because most residents don’t want Avon to grow anymore than it already has.

If the amendment is approved, it may be “stifling the future,” Fitch said, if there’s a good idea for a cluster development out there.

Fitch asked whether the item could be tabled and discussed further; however, Gasior said council had to vote on it Monday night in order to make the Aug. 10 deadline for the Lorain County Board of Elections filing.

“We’ve had 100 by 150 for four years,” Smith said of the standard.

Carla McWilliam, who owns more than 20 acres on Detroit Road, wasn’t pleased with the minimum lot size.

“Why are you trying to penalize the people that have undeveloped land?” she asked.

“We are not making it harder,” McBride said, adding the standard today in the city is 100 by 150.

“I think it’s going to come down to costing more money,” McWilliam said of the possible charter amendment.

Tom Demaline, president of Willoway Nurseries in Avon, offered his support for the minimum lot size.

However, Demaline said the amendment should be sold to voters as a means to control lot sizes, not as a way to eliminate flooding.

“The flooding issue is a multi-faceted one,” Urban commented. “I don’t think the word ‘eliminate’ should ever be used.”

Contact Rebecca Turman at rturman@2presspapers.com

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