AVON LAKE - Planners envision Avon Lake will look a lot different in 30 years while maintaining its present character.
They see the Towne Center on the northwest corner of State Route 83 and Walker Road surrounded by new condos and townhouses along with offices, retail space and restaurants in a walkable environment, plus a possible outdoor entertainment venue.
Along Lake Road, near its intersection with Moore Road, planners envision new development and more access to Lake Erie. They have no specific plans for the NRG power plant site, but are beginning to consider it a heritage piece that should be preserved or used for a townhome housing project.
Planners see the area along Lear Road between Walker and Lake roads and near Electric Boulevard as ripe for revitalization. Development could bring patios in front of eateries that are within walking distance of homes as well as more parking.
These are among the possible development scenarios in the city’s new comprehensive land-use plan that will serve as a blueprint for Avon Lake’s future.
Council approved the plan Nov. 12, supporting a 15-member steering committee's recommendations for development over the next 30 years. The plan focuses on three core areas of the city's 11.4 square miles: the lakefront, the center of town and the older business district on the eastern edge of town, also known as Stop 45. The city charter requires the plan to be renewed every five years.
The plan, which was 18 months in the making, is conceptual and can be revised at any time. It will guide decision-making and, officials hope, help establish Avon Lake as a destination community.
"A lot of hard work and thought went into this plan," said Councilwoman Jennifer Fenderbosch, who was on the steering committee with other city officials, residents and consultants. "With the city being built out 85% of its residential areas, a lot of people may ask, ‘Why do you need a plan?’ Well, we're always looking to improve our city, attract more businesses and amenities so more people would want to live here and stay here."
The city consulted with the Cleveland office of Michigan-based OHM Advisors and Guide Studio of Cleveland, both design and planning firms, on the plan. The city paid the consulting firms about $100,000, Mayor Greg Zilka said.
“We’re excited for the possibilities with this new plan in place,” Zilka said. “Lakefront development and access to the lake is important for our residents, and we are looking at adding a small “pocket” park to the half-acre the city owns at Lake and Moore roads.”
Arthur Schmidt, a senior planner with OHM, said it’s important for cities to “continue the momentum” once they approve a land-use plan.
“We don’t just come into a city, organize a plan and say ‘goodbye’,” Schmidt said. “We want the city to implement parts of the plan that can be done now, but continue looking at the big picture so the plan doesn’t become dormant. There’s a lot of untapped potential in Avon Lake in the way of what to add to make it more vibrant while maintaining its character.”
The committee sought public input as well, said member Gary Izo, who also serves on the Avon Lake Board of Zoning Appeals. Residents were surveyed at the 2018 Beer Fest, for example.
“What was interesting is that many of the residents identified the same areas that we did as priorities or focus areas.” said Izo, who was elected to the Ward 3 City Council seat Nov. 5. “We're bordered by the lake to the north and suburbs on all other sides of us.”
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