By Kevin Kelley
The management of Five Seasons Sports Club has asked the city of Westlake to add office use to the zoning category for most of its Clemens Road property.
The zoning application, filed Dec. 20 along with a $100 fee, requests that a change be made to the definition of the recreational business zoning category to include office use.
An ordinance approving the change had its second reading before Westlake City Council Thursday night. A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for 8 p.m. Feb. 21, just prior to council’s regular meeting. A vote on the ordinance is likely at that meeting.
The potential addition of office use to the Five Seasons property has led to rumors about the future of the sports club. The section of Clemens Road where Five Seasons is located is the center of a rapidly growing business district. Traffic in the area is so heavy during rush hour that road improvements around the nearby interchange at Interstate-90 and Crocker Road are in the works.
Right across the street from Five Seasons is Hyland Software, which has been expanding recently due to the growth of its business. In October, City Council and the Westlake Planning Commission gave their approvals to Hyland to construct a three-story building on Clemens Road. In November, Council granted a 75-percent tax abatement for 10 years on the planned building.
Per Nielsen, a Five Seasons member, said rumors about the club’s future have been discussed by members of his tennis group.
“I don’t think anyone has the idea to close down Five Seasons short term,” said Nielsen, who wrote a letter to the editor about the matter in the Feb. 6 issue of West Life. But he said he fears that a zoning change allowing office use on Five Seasons property will make it more tempting for the owner to sell someday.
Nielsen, the retired manager of a medical and laboratory equipment company, said he wishes the management would communicate better with its members about the club’s future. He opposes the zoning definition change and wants the club to stay open in the long term.
“It’s a beautiful facility with a beautiful blend of activities,” he said of the sports club.
Based in Covington, Ky., Five Seasons operates seven sports clubs across the Midwest. Thomas Deere, the company’s chief operating officer, whose name appears on the Westlake zoning application, did not return West Life’s calls for comment.
Bernard Niehaus, an attorney who has represented Five Seasons in the past and handled the rezoning application for the sports club, told West Life that he has heard the rumors about Five Seasons, too.
“As far as I know, they’re just rumors,” Niehaus said.
Regarding the zoning application, Niehaus said Five Seasons has made inquiries about expanding the use of its facility, including the possibility of having the Cleveland Clinic conduct rehabilitation therapy for patients there. That would necessitate having Cleveland Clinic offices there, the attorney said.
Bob Parry, Westlake’s director of planning, said the recreational business zoning category is now very restrictive and, possibly, outdated. In recent years, the city has permitted recreational businesses to locate in other zoning districts, such as industrial districts, he explained. Parry said he thinks it makes sense to expand the definition of the recreational business category.