Aurora extended a development moratorium in place since 2020

A rendering of one of the homes being built at Renaissance Park at Geauga Lake. Image via Pulte Homes

Aurora City Council has extended a moratorium on new development projects in the city, pending multiple zoning and infrastructure studies.

The stoppage, first implemented in October 2020, now extends to July 1 and applies to all plans, applications and permits for new residential subdivisions, development plans, projects, zoning amendments and conditional zoning certificates.

“The city has a big new development going in at the former Geauga Lake site, and with that in the works we undertook several studies [with outside firms] to better control development going forward,” Aurora Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin said.

Renaissance Park at Geauga Lake is a 246-acre development with homes starting at $315,990, according to developer Pulte Homes’ website. The site plan shows 86 townhomes and traditional single-family homes arrayed on two roads.

City leaders are already examining ordinances involving construction, stormwater, density, and traffic, Womer Benjamin said. 

The building department’s review of a draft density study is underway. The stormwater model and plan have not been completed yet, but all work should be done by a July 1 deadline.

Armed with a density and zoning study and a stormwater plan, city leaders will be able to update Aurora’s regulations before accepting new development applications. Some updates may also include zoning changes that will need to be decided at the ballot box.

In addition, Aurora’s Master Plan Review Commission, appointed every five years, will scrutinize the city’s development, capacity for growth and zoning. That commission will make its own recommendations.

To guard against unwelcome surprises, Womer Benjamin said her administration communicates regularly with city schools regarding new developments and expected growth.

“The city is seeking to prevent overgrowth and the negative impacts from it on services, stormwater, traffic and infrastructure,” Womer Benjamin said. “We are planning ahead.”

There are some exceptions to the moratorium, going back to Oct. 28, 2020, when the original stoppage was implemented. They include applications filed and accepted before that date, permits granted before that date, permits for an existing lot or plat approved before that date, and permits issued before that date that are connected to existing approved development plans, she said.

“The moratorium is for the city to evaluate its existing zoning and see if it needs to be updated or amended,” said Denise Januska, director of Aurora’s planning, zoning and building department.

Januska said only one developer has been turned away during the moratorium. The company had called to inquire about adding single-family condos to an existing development.

“All the other ones are just sitting back and biding their time,” she said.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.