Plan aims to create thoughtful and strategic vision to guide future development
Akron, Ohio, March 5, 2021 — Today, the cities of Akron and Cuyahoga Falls are announcing a new joint planning process for the Merriman Valley & Schumacher Areas. This joint area, often known to locals as the Valley, is in need of a new vision plan for land use and zoning that is more in keeping with today’s economic realities, and one that can guide responsible development in both previously-developed areas and yet-to-be developed ones. The master plan will first focus on a study that includes analysis of the Merriman Rd., Portage Path/Akron-Peninsula, and Portage Trail/Northampton corridors. A plan will then be created, laying out a vision for land use and development that will include zoning, urban design, transportation, environmental concerns, and economic development components, all the while keeping in mind the many recreational and hospitality opportunities that exist in the Valley.
Summit County’s two largest communities are working together, hand in hand, to hire Farr Associates, an architecture and planning firm headquartered in Chicago that specializes in planning, urban design, sustainable architecture, and environmentally-sensitive design, to assist in developing the Master Plan for the Valley. Each city has committed up to $100,000 to the planning costs, and an anticipated Farr Associates contract will be solidified in March 2021. Once the master planning process begins this Spring, Farr Associates, in cooperation with both cities, will provide ample opportunities for residents, businesses, and other stakeholders to engage in the planning process, with both in-person and online engagement activities anticipated. It is expected that the master planning process will begin this spring and will conclude in early 2022.
“This is a plan that is long overdue -- we all see the potential that exists in the Valley, our backyard, so close to the National Park. I’m confident we have selected the right consultant for this unique project,” stated Mayor Don Walters. “This is a great day for the residents of Cuyahoga Falls and Akron. Our two planning departments have been working on this together for many months now, and they have enjoyed the teamwork. Now it’s time to bring in the experts and let the residents have their voices heard.”
"This is such an exciting time for our two communities as we look together towards the future of the Valley," said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. "The end result of this process will be a Master Plan which recognizes the unique opportunities for residential and retail development in an area that is blessed with natural beauty, contains wonderful recreational amenities, and is at the foot of our National Park.”
Much of the study area was once part of the former Northampton Township, portions of which were annexed by Akron and the remainder of which merged with Cuyahoga Falls in 1986. Consequently, residential, retail, and industrial development has occurred over the past several decades in a variety of different jurisdictions absent an integrated plan for land use and development.
Doug Farr, Founder of Farr Associates said, "The Merriman Valley – Schumacher Area is a fast-growing area, rich in natural assets, the charm, and character of which could be badly compromised by unplanned growth. This planning process proposes a close collaboration between the consultant team, the community, elected officials, and city staff to work together to develop a future vision and plan based on the area’s core strengths. To ensure that the resulting master plan gets implemented, the consultant team will prepare a form-based zoning code for adoption by the two units of government. Our team has decades of experience at successfully leading communities of comparable size facing similar issues. We look forward to working with the community to create a place that will be cherished for generations.”
Cuyahoga Falls will be introducing legislation to its Council to hire Farr Associates on March 8, and public discussion will take place on March 15 at 6:30 p.m. via zoom. If approved by council, Cuyahoga Falls will serve as the fiscal agent on this project, meaning they will contract with Farr Associates, and the City of Akron will contract directly with Cuyahoga Falls on a reimbursement basis.
For any questions/comments regarding the Merriman Valley & Schumacher Area Master Plan:
In Akron, call: 330-375-2084, or email email@example.com. In Cuyahoga Falls, call: 330-971-8135, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.