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Developer pulls back annexation request in Columbia Township

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    The old Riverside Golf Course near Columbia and Sprague roads in Columbia Township.

    KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE FILE

  • Riverside-gif

    ED BETZEL / CHRONICLE GRAPHIC

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OLMSTED FALLS — The developer behind a proposed annexation of a vacant golf course on Sprague Road from Columbia Township into Olmsted Falls abruptly withdrew the request from consideration at a City Council meeting Tuesday.

But Daniel Lindner, developer David Gill’s lawyer, said after the meeting that the move was only temporary. He said although there was a quorum of Council members present, absences by several members led to the decision to withdraw the annexation request because to win would have required a unanimous vote Tuesday.

He said Gill plans to resubmit the request again at a later date and have it voted on when more Council members are at a future meeting.

“At the end of the day we’ll present to a full board of Council, and if they want us they want us and if they don’t we’ll figure out something else to do,” Lindner said.

Olmsted Falls Mayor Ann Marie Donegan, who also wasn’t at Tuesday’s Council meeting, has said the city has yet to decide whether to accept the annexation request.

The proposed annexation of the roughly 82 acres that comprise the old Riverside Golf Course has drawn opposition from Columbia Township trustees and many residents of that community. After Lindner announced Gill was withdrawing the request applause broke out in the Council chambers Tuesday from a crowd that had gathered mostly to voice their disapproval of the annexation idea.

Attorney Gerald Phillips, who was hired by the township earlier this month to rally public criticism of the annexation, said if Gill does resubmit the annexation proposal it will face same opposition.

“If they bring it back that room’s going to be packed just like it was tonight,” he said.

Lindner said Phillips was spreading inaccurate information to rile up opposition to the annexation request, including that annexation would cost more than the taxes it would raise, an allegation that was contained in a flyer being circulated by Phillips and other opponents.

Gill and Lindner said an independent analysis showed that between 2018 and 2031 Olmsted Falls would receive nearly $4.6 million in property and income taxes if the annexation goes through. The same study estimated that Columbia Township would receive about $2 million in property tax revenue over the same time frame, while Columbia Schools would receive almost $10.3 million.

If the annexation were to go forward the property and any homes built on it would remain in the Columbia Schools district.

Columbia Township Trustee Mike Musto said although he was pleased with what happened Tuesday, he doesn’t believe the issue is fully settled.

“It’s not over,” he said.

The Riverside Golf Association has sued the township over its decision to reject a zoning changed that would have allowed a 151-home housing development to be built on the property. Musto has said a settlement that would have resolved the issue was scrapped by the developer, who then sought annexation instead.

Lindner said the case is scheduled to go to trial in the fall.

Donegan has said the city isn’t interested in a fully residential development, but would be open to a mixed-use development. Although she said it might be similar to Crocker Park, Gill said that’s not really what he thinks of when looking at the city’s mixed-use zoning.

Gill said exactly what would be built on the former golf course has not yet been fully decided.

“The market will decide what’s going to be there,” Gill said.

Lindner said he plans to formally withdraw the annexation request that was submitted to the Lorain County commissioners in the coming days. Although the commissioners must review the proposal their ability to reject it is limited, county officials have said.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.



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