Briarwood up and running, but some neighbors have problems

by Sheldon Ocker 

Briarwood Estates has been almost 40 years in the making, starting in the 1980s when Randy Kertesz began seeking a way to monetize 126 acres he owned off Route 303 in Richfield Township.

As of mid-February, 27 new homes have been constructed on the property by new owner Pulte Homes, which plans to build 130 single-family, detached houses in three phases. The first phase will include 56 homes.

Joe O’Connor, Pulte’s director of planning for Northeast Ohio, said infrastructure for phase 2, such as streets, are already in place. Phase 2 construction probably will begin in the summer.

According to O’Connor, homes come in 11 styles and range  from 2,200 to 4,000 square feet. Prices begin at $500,000. Dues to a homeowners association will provide a small park.

The entire build-out is expected to take about five years, according to O’Connor.

Some residents of an older Briarwood development are counting the days until the last construction vehicle leaves the neighborhood.

For Pulte to undertake the project, water and sewer service had to be provided by Richfield Village. The only way that could happen was for the village to take the 126 acres through a Type 2 annexation.

The older development of single-family homes and condominiums has been situated on land in front of Briarwood Estates and was served by a private sewer provider or septic systems.

Once the village annexed Kertesz’s land, the township had no jurisdiction over that property, yet residents in the settled Briarwood neighborhoods have to live with construction vehicles and traffic from new homeowners using the old Briarwood roads to reach the Pulte development.

“It’s been a huge change here for us,’’ said Barbara Zabor, who watches construction traffic snake past her house on West Whitethorn Circle. “We are dealing with the second year of truck and construction equipment going back and forth in front of our house.’’

One resident of old Briarwood, who wanted to remain anonymous put it this way: “It has been really hard the past couple of years, and it’s not over yet. This has been a lot of stress for everyone.’’

Not that Pulte hasn’t been responsive to these kinds of complaints.

Zabor said that after ‘’they ruined our road’’ last winter, tearing up the berms on both side of her narrow street, she called Richfield Mayor Michael Wheeler, Pulte and its construction company.

“They were very nice,’’ she said. “They fixed both sides of the berm; they got rid of the big pothole temporarily.  They made it tolerable for us.’’

Full paving of her road will take place after the entire project is finished, Zabor was told.

Zabor concedes that increased traffic in her neighborhood is inevitable.

“We have to accept the additional traffic and construction [vehicles], the moving vans and furniture trucks,’’ she said.

As Richfield Townwhip Trustee Jeff Shupe said in September 2021, “They want to dump all this traffic on us. There are 32 [township] homes involved. They lose security and seclusion. With 130 new homes, probably two cars per household, that’s more than 200 additional cars.’’ ∞

Featured Photo: All of the access to the Briarwood homes has been off of W. Whitethorn Drive in Richfield Township. A new road was created, after a deep ravine was filled in, which will provide another access into the development from Scanwood and Sawbridge roads.  Photo by S. Serdinak.