Trustees approve garden center

by Dan Holland and Laura Bednar

Bath Township Trustees approved the zoning map amendment for Petitti Home & Garden Center at 395 Springside Dr., changing from B-3 Office, Research and Limited Business to a B-2 Community Business District, which would allow for retail.

At the March 4 trustees meeting, Trustee Sharon Troike said the existing building on the property “has sat empty for many years,” adding that repurposing the structure will be refreshing and exciting.

Petitti’s will repurpose the 29,000-square-foot building on the 6-acre site, which would include a new entry vestibule. An additional 69,000-square-foot open, greenhouse-like structure with retractable roof shading for plants is also planned.

Trustee President Sean Gaffney said Bath has a supply of vacant sites and areas that can be repurposed.

Trustee Elaina Goodrich said she it was important for the existing building to remain on site and appreciates the business is “community-minded.”

The main ingress/egress from Springside Drive will require two curb cuts as well as an additional curb cut along N. Cleveland-Massillon Road. The site would include 181 parking spots.

Summit County Planning Commission held a public hearing for the map amendment on Jan. 18, at which they recommended approval of the zoning change.

The Bath Township Zoning Commission subsequently held a public hearing on the matter at a Jan. 25 meeting and voted 3-0 in favor of approving the proposed map amendment.

Trustees heard a presentation from AJ Petitti at a Feb. 20 public hearing.

Petitti told trustees that the business would be the company’s tenth location in Northeast Ohio, similar in size and scope to its Jackson Township operation. He addressed landscaping/natural screening, fencing, stormwater management and a lighting plan for the property.

David Effler, who owns property nearby the site along N. Cleveland-Massillon Road, spoke in favor of approving the zoning change at the February public hearing.

“I’ve owned my property for 43 years and have watched changes out here,” said Effler. “I think this would be a good move to change this to retail; it would fit along with what is south of the property [Lowe’s Home Improvement]. There are a lot of empty office buildings, and it’s always been a struggle to keep that one occupied over the years. I think this will be a good permanent use that will help improve Bath and make things better.”

Resident Joann Alexander also spoke in favor of the map amendment, citing five reasons: the zoning change will not convert any residential property to commercial or retail, it is consistent with the composition of the area, would not cause an inordinate amount of stress to the surrounding areas, the infrastructure to accommodate the business is already in place, and the change would not require expansion of the joint economic development district or creation of a new JEDD.

“I’m very impressed with the work that you’ve put into this – all the forethought and planning. Not everyone does that,” Troike told Petitti. “Obviously, you’ve done this more than once, and you know what you’re doing. So, thank you for your diligence and all the details put into it.”

“I agree with Trustee Troike in that you’ve done a great job,” said Gaffney. “I’ve attended some of the other public meetings on this, and I think you’ve addressed everything I’ve heard come up.”

Township legal counsel Bob Konstand said the township will enter into a development agreement with the property owner and Petitti’s in which certain prohibitions cannot be changed without trustee approval.

The projected opening date for Petitti’s is March 2025. ∞