Saturday, April 14, 2018

Request to convert historic mansion to condos denied

 

Chagrin Valley Times


Request to convert historic mansion to condos denied

    Ryan Dentscheff

HUNTING VALLEY — The Village Planning Commission denied a resident’s proposal Tuesday to convert the 55,000-square-foot Roundwood Manor mansion located in the Daisy Hill enclave into six condominiums.

Resident Sylvia Korey has been working on the proposal for about two years as a way to preserve the property. She attempted to sell the home for about 15 years, but the only interested buyers indicated they only wanted the property and would raze the house, which last year was added to the Ohio Historic Inventory.

She said the historic value of the home, originally built in the 1920s by Oris and Mantis Van Sweringen, is worth retaining. Converting it to the condominiums, and leaving the footprint and exterior of the building located on 7.69 acres at 3450 Roundwood Road, would be the best way to preserve the property. Keeping the large home as a single-family residence is no longer economically feasible, Ms. Korey has said.
On Tuesday, the commission voted 3-0 with one abstention to deny Ms. Korey’s request.
Planning Commission Chairman and village Council President Bruce Mavec said after a 30-minute executive session that the commission could not support the variance from the village residential zoning regulation that limits one residence per 5 acres of property.
The commission chairman only votes when there is a tie.
“The findings of the commission are that the density and zoning of 5 acres per residential unit is a key component of the zoning and therefore, we can’t grant the request,” Mr. Mavec said.
Jerry Medinger, who serves on the commission and village council, agreed.
“I think that the concept is one that I understand and under different sets of circumstances, I would support,” he said. “But I can’t see how what has been proposed doesn’t violate our 5-acre minimum zoning.”
Prior to a vote, Ms. Korey’s attorney, Bruce Rinker, made several comments pertaining to the case as to why the authority is in the hands of the commission – a point that had been debated in previous meetings – and why the proposal is unique and necessary for this historic property.
Commission member Christopher Nook, who also voted to deny the request, said he doesn’t want to see the home demolished.
“I want to make sure it’s clear that I’m not suggesting or in support of demolishing the home,” Mr. Nook said. “I’d like to see another resolution to restore it or keep it intact, but I don’t think this is the right one.”
While some members of the commission may believe that there are other options to preserve the home, Mr. Rinker and Cleveland Restoration Society Executive Director and President Kathleen Crowther said after the meeting that the proposed conversion is the best and only solution.
Ms. Crowther was involved in the process as a historic homes expert.
“We’re very disappointed and think that the decision by the commission is short sighted,” Ms. Crowther said. “(The decision) doesn’t promote preservation, it encourages demolition.”
Mr. Rinker said that allowing the conversion to condos would have stood the test of time. Now, he said, the decision could be seen by outsiders as “a black eye” for Hunting Valley.
“It’s a pretty extreme position to take in the face of all the evidence and good reasons that support preservation that Ms. Korey has promoted here,” he said. “We’ve had the Cleveland Restoration Society look at it, a lot of friends and neighbors, and there are a lot of people who have indicated that not only do they think it would work, but they would love to live there. That’s a win-win when you can preserve the history.”
Because a special-use permit was requested by Ms. Korey, village code does not call for an appeals process to council. Instead, she would have to take the matter to the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court within 30 days of the commission’s decision.
“In the past, I was hopeful that going to court would be the last option,” Ms. Korey said, indicating that she had not made a decision as of yet on the next step.
In response to being asked to elaborate further on the possibility of an appeal to the court, Mr. Rinker said, “For you to make it work, that’s the last option.”

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