Sizing up growth in Streetsboro

By Heather Condley Record-Courier staff writer Published:

They think it's grown more.

The Bureau reports that the population of Streetsboro has grown from 9,932 in 1990 to 10,905 in 1996, putting it in the running with Aurora as Portage County's third largest city behind Kent and Ravenna, respectively.

Mayor Sally Henzel thinks the numbers seem way too low considering the number of new housing developments that have sprung up everywhere. In fact, she estimates that the population has grown from roughly 10,000 to nearly 14,000 _ a much higher estimate than the census bureau's claim of 793 new people.

"I feel they are extremely low," she said of the numbers. "With all the housing that has come into our area, even if there are only two people in some households, I would say we grew more."

She said that the city seems to be attracting a number of young professionals who grew up in the area and are returning with their families.

"It's been wonderful, the amount of growth," she said. "People are upgrading their homes and staying in the community. In the '80s, it seemed all the kids in the area were moving out. Now, it's a joy to see the young people working here. There is a nice blend of everyone in the town. We are quite diverse."

Henzel thinks a number of things bring people to Streetsboro permanently, including the blend of urban and rural areas in the city.

"I'm in a rural area. I have 30 acres, but I can walk into town if I want to," she said. "Most of the parcels (in the city) are from two-and-a-half to five or 10 acres and people are building beautiful homes. People can have larger lots here if they want to."

Planning Commission member Lea Fronek, however, thinks that the census numbers seem too high, even with the new developments.

"I have not seen the (census) study, but I would guess from what I've seen around the community that 800 people seems like a lot of people," she said. "It doesn't appear as though people have been flocking (to Streetsboro). I know there is new housing being developed, but most of the ones we have approved either have not started yet, or are under construction.

Despite the fact that new businesses and industries seem to pop up overnight on S.R. 14, both Fronek and Henzel seem to agree that the balance between residential growth, commercial growth and industrial growth is being maintained and closely watched.

In fact, city officials are currently working on approving a land use plan that will guide future development in the city.

"What some of the land use revolves around is in regards to single family and residential growth. Up until now, we have been trying to use some of the new concepts that were developed in Hiram, the cluster housing. The idea is to retain the open space concept and still have the homes and maybe a certain area where they're not interfering with the wildlife," Henzel said.

"It's tough to please everyone," admits Fronek, who was a member of the land use plan committee. "There were several citizens on that committee, so there were many differences of opinion. In particular, people were concerned about Seasons Road and Ferguson Road. They made it very clear that that is an area that people want to keep rural."

But Fronek said that while there is currently a balance, she's not sure that city officials are doing a good job of managing the growth.

"We try, but there are people who tend to disagree with what the city is doing," she said. "I think what the residents agree with is that they want to keep (the city) rural. We heard this when we were working on the land use plan. But when people make that statement, they don't realize what they are saying because they often want lower taxes and you have to have growth to keep taxes low."

Henzel, on the other hand, said that often times the city misses opportunities to bring new industries into the city.

"There isn't a problem (with balancing the growth)," she said. "The commercial (growth) is still going. Industrial is still growing, but no matter how hard it hurts to say, council did our city a great injustice by turning down some of the industry (that is interested in locating to Streetsboro). What you are seeing being built now are packages that were put together as far as two years ago. Now (the industries) have dried up."

But she said that the industry the city has been bringing in has been a godsend to the community.

"We're very fortunate that we have the industry. We'll finally be able to start fixing the roads and things are blossoming. We are envied by many other communities," she said.

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