Driveway may be hurdle for Maui Sands

SANDUSKY A resort along U.S. 250 faces a few roadblocks in its final stages ofconstruction, but a spokeswoman said it still a
Annie Zelm
May 24, 2010



A resort along U.S. 250 faces a few roadblocks in its final stages ofconstruction, but a spokeswoman said it still aims to open in mid-May.

In a letter dated March 28, atraffic planning engineer from the Ohio Department of Transportation informed the owner of the Maui Sands Resort the new development violates the State Highway Access Management Manual.

The manual says the property owner is responsible forreconstructing or modifying an existing driveway if the newdevelopment is expected tosignificantly impact the volume of traffic.

"It's a safety issue, an operational issue," ODOT traffic planningengineer Julie Cichello said Thursday.

"With the amount of traffic coming in, a private drive wasn't designed to handle the traffic that this new development could bring in."

Maui Sands spokeswoman Lexi Robinson said officials are reviewing the letter and examining their options.

The resort was initially projected to open April 15 but was delayed because of a variety of factorsunrelated to the roadimprovements, she said.

Alex MacNicol, director of the Erie County Regional Planning Commission, said officials will move forward with the infrastructure improvements as soon as engineering drawings are finalized. A plan to realign the road was part of a tax increment financing agreement between the county commissioners and Maui Sands Resort.

Through the agreement, 50 percent of the increased property tax generated by the new development would finance infrastructure improvements. Park Place Drive would be realigned to create a public road eventually extending back to the Baywinds Athletic Club.

Plans were based upon a corridor study of U.S. 250 conducted by the Ohio Department of Transportation several years ago. The study also recommended eliminating additional drives to control the flow of traffic along the developing route, but MacNicol said doing so would have been too expensive with the state declining to offer any funding.

He said officials encountered a similar situation with the construction of Kalahari Resort, but the Maui Sands development is far more complicated because it involves an existing intersection.

MacNicol said several prices were discussed, but the final cost ultimately depends upon how much right-of-way the county acquires from the multiple developments that now share its ownership.

"When the road is realigned, we're going to have to acquire different right-of-ways, and we can't do that until we know where the road is going to go," he said. "There's always some degree of uncertainty when it come to acquiring a right-of-way, and with so many property owners involved, it's not been an easy project."

The extension of the road would also be partially funded by a $150,000 grant the Erie County Economic Development Corporation received from the Ohio Department of Development.

Transportation officials said although no timeline was set for completion of the project, they expected the issue to be resolved before the high-traffic tourist season began.

"In the past we've worked well with the developers along 250," ODOT District 3 spokesman Brian Stacy said. "It's a shame they're still having these problems this close to when they plan to open."

Stacy said if no action is taken, ODOT officials would likely turn the case over to the attorney general's office.

Cichello said Comfort Inn Suites faced a similar problem several years ago and complied after the case was taken to court.