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Old Mill Creek plat approved

Second access, wetland mitigation delay expansion

By Doug Lindner
Solon Economist

SOLON– It’s been a long time coming.
Solon City Council members approved a preliminary plat for the third addition of the Old Mill Creek subdivision at a Nov. 2 meeting.
The new phase has been over 10 years in the making, and will expand the residential development on Solon’s west side by 46 lots.
“This has been long-awaited,” City Administrator Cami Rasmussen told council members.
The original development has been around since the first speculative homes were built in 2000, providing the city with something it hadn’t had a lot of– new residential construction.
But the lack of a second access hamstrung the subdivision, and aside from an appearance by original developer SouthGate Development before the council in an attempt to negotiate impact fees in 2006, Old Mill Creek has been off the radar.
It was resurrected in 2015 by developer Cory Hodapp, who asked the city to consider a new zoning district for reduced-width lot sizes which he could utilize for portions of Old Mill Creek.
Hodapp submitted a preliminary plat to the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) a year ago, Rasmussen said, but wetland mitigation on the property delayed the plat’s appearance before the council.
According to City Engineer Dave Schechinger, the previous developer, SouthGate, disturbed a wetland area while constructing a detention pond on the northwest end of the development.
“The (U.S. Army) Corps (of Engineers) had them go out and do some mitigation, and generally when you do a mitigation of a wetland, that is supposed to remain undisturbed, they want to keep that intact,” Schechinger said.
A new environmental survey of the area found the boundary of the wetland was slightly larger than had been previously recorded, he said, resulting in adjustments to some of the lot lines in the preliminary plat.
An existing wetland near the new secondary access to Highway 382 will also require mitigation, Schechinger said, but Hodapp is expected to pursue the purchase of credits from a wetland bank to offset the loss.
Schechinger noted while the wetland permit has been submitted to the Corp of Engineers, it’s possible there may be further review prior to approval.
Schechinger said Hodapp could proceed with construction drawings for Part 3, but could not move ahead on construction until receiving approval from the Corps.
Hodapp said he hoped to move dirt on-site “before everything freezes” and then work through the winter as weather permits. He told council members he expected to hear back from the Corps within 45 days.
Schechinger noted several small changes between versions of the plat approved with conditions by P&Z and the one before council members.
Two lots were reduced in size due to the wetland area, and the secondary access, Old Mill Lane, curves slightly in the new plat, he said.
Council member Mark Krall asked if the two downsized lots met code requirements, and Schechinger replied affirmatively.
The city requires 8,000 square feet and one lot has 20,000 square feet, he said, but because it abuts a wetland outlot, the depth of the buildable area is smaller.
“It can be done, it’s a little bit tight,” he said. “Since it’s tight, I wanted to point that out.”
Another lot exceeds requirements but has a significant grade in the backyard which may require a retaining wall, he said.
Schechinger said the changes were not substantial enough to warrant review by the P&Z, but indicated if council members had concerns, it could be an option.
Rasmussen informed council members the plat could be placed before the P&Z at a Nov. 9 meeting, with subsequent action by the council Nov. 16.
Typically, she said, the plat is accompanied by a developer’s agreement, but in this case a draft is still in the works.
If the council chose to take action on the plat, she instructed, it would need to be contingent on the issuance of the Corps permit, the approval of a developer’s agreement and other recommendations noted by Schechinger and the P&Z.
Those included waiving the extension of water and sewer utilities to the development’s western border.
Schechinger noted the area in question would be difficult to serve with water and a nearby creek made it unlikely to develop. Utilities will be extended to the north.
Other conditions included an agreement on street light spacing and the addition of sump pump drain lines.
After a long pause, Krall offered a motion to approve the preliminary plat.
“I guess I’m not seeing a reason for it to go back to P&Z at this time,” he said.
The short-handed council approved the motion, 3-0, with members Ron Herdliska and Steve Duncan absent.