by Laura Bednar
At a June 9 public hearing, the Bath Zoning Commission listened to citizen comments on the 18-month-old effort to rezone a house at 1075 Ghent Rd.
Dr. Tim Pristas is asking to rezone the property from R-2 residential – single-family homes – to B-4 restricted business – office space adjacent to retail areas – and plans to construct a dental office.
Resident Jack Lieberman favored the zoning change, saying it would produce more property taxes and the building would have a pleasing design as opposed to a house that gets flipped and isn’t maintained.
Several residents were opposed to allowing the office.
Kathi Damitz SirLouis said the property and surrounding homes had been zoned residential for decades, and residents relied on that zoning when they bought their homes.
Said David Kelly, “Once you insert commercial property in residential, surrounding areas become commercial. You’ve created a domino effect and this will change the area.”
Pristas said he wanted to better the community.
Said resident JoAnn Alexander, “Bath is not a dental desert, there are three dentists within walking distance of [the property].” She said there are vacant business lots that Pristas could use instead.
Pristas said the office is not trying to be a regional clinic or “mom and pop” operation.
Pristas and his partner, Dr. Jen DiPiero, each have their own dental practices, Pristas in Brecksville and DiPiero in Fairlawn. During their presentation, DiPiero said, “I will relocate my practice to the new location to help it grow.”
Pristas would keep his practice and help with management of the new office, possibly coming in to do specific procedures. He purchased the Ghent property for $330,000.
“The property provides wonderful access to the patients,” DiPiero said. She added that no other property in Bath could accommodate the building, as other areas in the township have no utility connections.
Pristas said the Summit County Engineer’s Office gave verbal permission for the office to connect to the existing traffic light at the intersection of Ghent and Cleveland Massillon roads.
The proposed office would be a single-story 5,000-square-foot building with a walkout basement. Pristas said four-foot dirt mounding and deciduous trees would be added to the landscape facing the street to prevent headlights from shining onto the property.
Architect for the building, Leon Sampat, said the existing single-family home and accessory structure on site have a higher elevation than the proposed office. Zoning commission member Joy Kosiewicz asked what the hours of operation would be. Pristas said the hours at maximum would be 7 a.m.-7 p.m., noting this would not be consistent. The office would be open Monday through Thursday with a half-day on Friday and an occasional Saturday half-day.
Planning Director/Zoning Inspector William Funk outlined a lengthy timeline since Pristas’ original application on Jan. 14, 2021. The Summit County Planning Commission held a public hearing on Jan. 28 and recommended the township undertake an in-depth study of the Ghent corridor area. The county later recommended approving the zoning request.
In February 2021, the Bath Zoning Commission created a committee to study the Ghent corridor. Funk said Wendy Moeller of consultant Compass Point Planning was a member of the committee and outlined five potential outcomes for the corridor:
- Keep zoning as is.
- Rezone to B-4 business as requested.
- Expand the B-1 business district into the R-2 residential area.
- Expand the B-1 business and then rezone the entire area to B-4 business.
- Create a new zoning district that would function as a planned unit development, which integrates residential, commercial and other uses.
Bath trustees voted against creating a PUD. In May 2022 the zoning commission addressed Pristas’ request and held a public informational meeting. Commission members and neighbors were later invited to visit 1075 Ghent and neighboring homes.
Comments on the zoning proposal will be accepted until July 8. The zoning commission will vote on the proposal July 14 and send its recommendation to Bath trustees. ∞