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October 2005 Archives

Saying "the decision is too important to rush", Steven Litt urges ODOT to slow its timetable for making a final decision on the Innerbelt bridge, and allow Clevelanders a chance to examine plans and alternatives.

The Plain Dealer examines the rapid pace of growth in northern Summit County along the Route 8 corridor and the threats it poses to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and older suburbs.

Work continues at the Villages of Central, Cleveland's largest market rate housing development since the 1940s. Begun in 2000 and scheduled for completion in 2007, it consists of over 450 new homes, of which 265 have been sold.

Waste paper and plastic from Medina County will be burned to produce power at the downtown Akron steam plant, allowing the county to divert or recycle up to 60% of its waste stream.

The current issue of Balanced Living Magazine explores green building in Northeast Ohio, and includes articles on the Cleveland EcoVillage, activities in Shaker Heights, green roofs, and straw bale houses.

Hinckley Township turned over its 183 acre portion of Rising Valley Park to the Cleveland Metroparks. Richfield Township will retain control of its 45 acre piece. The park includes forests, wetlands, and a stretch of the East Branch of the Rocky River.

Construction of City View Center in Garfield Heights is on schedule, and developers still expect the 650,000 square foot retail development to open before Easter.

Despite accusations that the City is attempting to poach jobs from its neighbors, Strongsville hired real estate brokerage firm Cresco to market properties in the Strongsville Business Park.

Several national retailers have reportedly expressed interest in the 120 acre downtown North Royalton development. The City is conducting a downtown economic development study, and Mayor Luks plans for a 2007 groundbreaking.

A set of preservation and architectural design guidelines have been prepared for downtown Berea, and they will be presented to the public on November 9 at 7:00 p.m. at the Berea library.

Avon City Council again postponed a vote on a retail rezoning proposed by developer Greg Romes for 23 acres at the southeast corner of Detroit and Center Roads.

Construction of 50 scattered-site infill homes is underway in Cleveland's East Clark neighborhood, led by the Euclid-St. Clair Development Corporation. The two story houses will range from 1,590 to 2,230 square feet, with an average price of $160,000.

As part of their Visioning Process for University Circle, University Circle Incorporated will hold a community meeting led by Kathy Coakley Barrie and Dennis Barrie on Tuesday, November 1, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Museum of Natural History.

(Update: The Plain Dealer has more information about the forum.)

Following the Ohio Senate's lead, the Ohio House unanimously approved a moratorium until 2007 on the use of eminent domain on unblighted properties for economic development. The legislation will take effect as soon as Governor Taft signs the bill.

Last night marked the official groundbreaking for the $60 million SouthPark mall expansion and renovation in Strongsville. Additional festivities are planned for the remainder of the week and weekend, and work is scheduled for completion in spring 2007.

The International Joint Commission is seeking input on the upcoming review of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and will hold a meeting on Thursday, November 3, at 7:00 p.m. in the Cleveland City Hall Rotunda. They are also accepting comments online.

An opening ceremony was held yesterday for BizMat, a hazardous waste collection center in South Akron.

A Plain Dealer editorial urges the Ohio Senate to reject Bill 193, which would create a new board to authorize drilling and logging on state land. Calling the legislation "tempting" and "wrong", the editorial concludes that "America can't drill its way out of this energy crisis."

In this week's Free Times, Michael Gill recounts highlights of the recent Shrinking Cities Symposium.

The Village of Glenwillow has a new website with information about the city and details for residents.

Recently-passed legislation in Cleveland added a new "Open Space and Recreation District" section to the City's zoning code.

One of the proposed charter amendments that Mayfield Village voters will decide next month would require voter approval of any proposal to join a regional police or fire district.

As the Cleveland Cavaliers search for a site for a new practice facility, the City of Cleveland and architect Richard Fleischman are proposing a $36 million practice complex that also includes office space and condominiums for a Huron Road parking lot near Quicken Loans Arena.

For the first time, the U.S. Census Bureau has released daytime population figures for counties and places. The statistics, based on the 2000 Census, locally show Cleveland, Beachwood, Solon, and Middleburg Heights as the top destinations, while Cleveland Heights, Lakewood, Parma, and Brunswick have the largest drops in daytime population.

Mittal Steel wants to expand their landfill in Cleveland and Newburgh Heights by adding 43 acres to the 25 acre landfill, the sole remaining industrial landfill in Cuyahoga County. The Ohio EPA will hold a public meeting on the proposal on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Newburgh Heights Courtroom.

Recently-formed think tank Policy Bridge focuses on minority urban policy issues, and is bringing Harvard economist Roland Fryer to speak at the City Club on November 2.

Solon officials are considering expanding the City's historic district to encompass land around Bainbridge Road east of SOM Center Road.

J.K. Development is seeking final approval from the City of Independence to build 13 single family homes and a private drive on a 15.66 acre site off of Brecksville Road.

The Veterans Administration and the City of Brecksville are continuing negotiations that will allow a partnership led by the City to redevelop the VA site when it is vacated in approximately three years. They hope to have the deal finalized this winter.

The City of North Royalton is partnering with The Coral Company to create a mixed-use development on a 120 acre downtown site along State Road between Royalwood and Royalton Roads.

North Royalton City Council members are exploring how they can coordinate the City's open space planning with the County Greenspace Plan and the Cleveland Metroparks East Branch Rocky River Greenway Protection Plan (PDF).

The City of Cleveland is continuing work on plans to purchase the former Big Lots store on Lake Shore Boulevard and convert it to a recreation center. A court hearing to establish the property's value is scheduled for November 14 and 15.

Gates Mills Village Council approved a zoning variance that will allow North Coast Community Homes to convert a single-family house for use as a supervised group home for four adults with developmental disabilities.

The City Club has posted an MP3 of Henry Cisneros's talk on cities (19.4 MB, 55 minutes) held on October 14.

The latest Bruce Blog covers, among other things, the completion of a preliminary Dike 14 master plan and the issues the Dike 14 Nature Preserve Committee has with some of its recommendations.

Developers MRN Ltd hope to bring Corner Alley, a combined upscale restaurant, bar, and bowling alley, to their E.4th Street entertainment district. The destination spot would occupy Euclid Avenue storefronts from E.4th Street east to the Euclid Arcade.

The Euclid Creek Watershed Planning Guide is now available on our site. It's intended to serve as a guide for implementing projects throughout the watershed.

The Convention Facilities Authority held a meeting last night to solicit opinions from the public about a new convention center, marking the start of a six month plan to gather public input. Chas Rich provides his impressions of the meeting at NEO Babble.

The Burton Fire Department is proposing an expansion of their station that would require razing a historic 1866 building adjacent to the station. The threatened building was the Village's original high school.

Reminder: October 21 is the application deadline for our planner job opening.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the Cuno v. DaimlerChrysler case challenging Ohio's use of tax incentives. Last year, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the tax credits unconstitutional, but stayed the decision during the State's appeal.

(via the Cleveland Law Library Weblog)

Mary Ann Sullivan of Bluffton University recently updated her Digital Imaging Project with many images and details of Cleveland architecture and public art.

A bill introduced in the Ohio Senate would establish an independent board to sell oil, gas, and timber leases on state property, removing regulatory authority from ODNR. Environmentalists are opposed to the legislation, and say the bill would open state parks to wholesale logging and drilling.

Local public housing agencies will receive less money from HUD next year. The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority is facing a budget cut of $1.1 million.

The Singletary House, a 177 year old Streetsboro home that has escaped demolition plans in the past is again threatened, this time by a Wal-Mart supercenter. Some residents want to move the house a second time.

A new Brookings Institution study examining concentrated poverty ranks Cleveland as having the seventh highest concentration of extremely poor neighborhoods in the United States.

(via Crain's Cleveland Business)

WKSU's Vivian Goodman explores downtown housing trends in Cleveland and Akron.

While stating that the new Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage provides a series of multimedia experiences that could be distracting to some, Steven Litt of the Plain Dealer also sees the potential for the museum to become an anchor for a campus devoted to Jewish culture and heritage.

A trial begins today over the six-year delay of the development of the Crooked River Inn, a $5.3 million conference center project that intended to reuse a barn and several farm buildings in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority will begin to collaborate on economic development projects with the Lorain County Port Authority.

Trans European Securities will partner with American Stone Corp. to develop the 900 acre, mixed-use Cleveland Quarries project in South Amherst.

Cities such as Cleveland should focus on serving existing residents rather than court growth, according to speakers at last week's Shrinking Cities Symposium. The work being done by planners in Youngstown was cited as an example of using sustainability as a model for redeveloping a city without relying on population growth.

Entreprenuers for Sustainability will host an event on Tuesday, October 18 that will feature a talk by Ray Anderson of Interface on sustainability and natural capitalism.

A decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has cleared the way for the major residential redevelopment by Providence Baptist Church in the City of Euclid.

North Olmsted City Council will vote on whether to approve their Planning Commission's decision to approve permits related to the renovation of Suburban Collision Center.

The expansion of Lakewood Public Library has been delayed while the City reduces the scope of work for the project.

The City of Cleveland will introduce gas drilling at city-owned Seneca Golf Course while Broadview Heights is considering the same practice on its own property. Presently, state law gives ODNR exclusive authority over regulating drilling, but municipalities still retain discretion over property that they own.

The 20-acre western half of Bedford's Meadowbrook Shopping Center remains bulldozed and vacant, much to the chagrin of city leaders.

Solon City Council will not reconsider its rejection of a zoning variance that would have permitted the development of the Southwood cluster home subdivision.

Erickson Retirement Communities cited a flat economy as the reason for cancelling plans to construct a retirement community in Orange Village.

Several storefronts in Cleveland's Ohio City and Detroit Shoreway neighborhoods are undergoing renovation as part of a $8.6 million HOPE VI affordable housing project.

Despite encroaching sprawl, efforts continue to preserve Ohio's few remaining Lake Erie coastal wetlands.

Cleveland City Council is expected to approve a plan to direct $10.4 million in property tax revenues from Steelyard Commons to help complete construction of the Towpath Trail.

The high concentration of houses of worship in Cleveland's eastside neighborhoods has led planner and neighborhood activists to consider shared parking and zoning changes that would result in better streetscapes.

John Kuehner of the Plain Dealer reports on a pilot project to reduce diesel emissions at the Port of Cleveland and work being done by Garick Corp. and Case's Weatherhead School of Management to design processes that reduce waste products and increase profits.

The U.S. EPA plans to enact utility industry-supported changes that will measure pollution based on an hourly standard rather than on yearly totals. States and citizen groups argue that the new rules will increase pollution from coal-fired power plants.

While the City of Cleveland and Tops Markets LLC have reached consensus on the building and zoning code violations at the supermarket's Collinwood property, agreement has not been reached regarding the future of the site which was intended for an new supermarket at East 185th Street and Neff Road.

On December 1, a conference titled "The Future of Ohio's Lake Erie Basin: Balancing Land Use and Water Quality" will be held at Lorain Community College. The keynote speakers will be Dr. Jeffrey M. Reutter of the Ohio Sea Grant College Program and Dr. Elena Irwin of Ohio State University's Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics. Session information (PDF) and a registration form (PDF) are available from the North Coast Building Industry Association.

(via EcoCity Cleveland)

In this week's Free Times, Michael Gill examines the divisive debate in Ohio over the use of eminent domain for economic development.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear three cases challenging the Clean Water Act and wetlands protections, including two from Michigan. Arguments will take place early next year, and a decision is expected by July.

Steve Litt of the Plain Dealer advocates for planners to follow the Dutch approach presented at a recent symposium and points to regional efforts on the Cleveland Lakefront, Cuyahoga Valley, and Innerbelt Bridge as projects that can benefit from a more pragmatic approach.

Mark Rosentraub, dean of CSU's Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, advocates for a unified regional economic development strategy to increase employment opportunities and restore property values.

A November ballot issue in Geauga County's Munson Township will determine whether regulations for riparian setbacks will remain in effect. Groups such as Chagrin River Watershed Partners maintain that the setbacks preserve natural stream function that prevents floods, erosion, and diminished water quality, while property rights advocates want to overturn the protective regulations.

Optimism is increasing among backers of a high-speed rail network that would place Cleveland at the center of the Ohio Hub system.

Northeast Ohio transit authorities have seen a sharp increase in ridership since the recent escalation of fuel prices that have compelled more drivers to use mass transit. Local planners still see a disconnect between federal subsidies for highway construction and the need to build denser transit-friendly neighborhoods.

The Cleveland City Planning Commission has declared property north of the Main Avenue Bridge on the east bank of the Cuyahoga River "extensively blighted" in preparation for the Flats East Bank Development project.

Steven Litt reviews the new Park Synagogue East, saying that it "has turned an anonymous zone along a highway into a religious center worthy of use and preservation for decades to come."

To support the many home improvements being made on Winslow Road in Shaker Heights, the Winslow Preservation Organization has created uniform for rent signs for the street's landlords.

Construction difficulties have again delayed completion of the new stadium at Collinwood High School, postponing the October 9 opening to October 21.

After a year of negotiations, Marous Brothers Construction signed a one-year option to purchase the former Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist from the City of Cleveland. The company has already completed $120,000 of emergency repairs to the building at W.117th Street in Cleveland.

The McGill Property Group has signed a letter of intent to acquire the stalled Cornerstone complex in Parma Heights. While it is expected to remain a mixed-use development, its final configuration may be very different from the plans envisioned by Joanne Schneider, and it may even be renamed.

The Lakewood Sun Post examines the plans and progress of Lakewood Community Progress Inc. Now that the organization has an executive director, they will work to join the Ohio Main Street Program.

An advisory board with representatives of Berea, Brook Park, Middleburg Heights, Parma, and Parma Heights is expected to recommend the creation of a five-city EMS and fire district.

A proposal for a gas station at the Giant Eagle store on Snow Road in Brook Park rejected in 2003 may soon be approved by City Council.

Supporters are continuing work to find a new home for the Trolleyville USA streetcar collection. A car barn will be constructed at the terminus of the RTA Waterfront Line while plans to build a new museum at North Coast Harbor are finalized.

Development of the Renaissance Park retail and office complex at Pearl and Whitney Roads in Strongsville remains stalled, and the project's developer failed to appear at a Planning Commission meeting to discuss a Lowe's store proposed for the center.

Mayor Ramos of Independence is proposing the creation of a grant program to serve as a development incentive for the City's downtown. Businesses with an annual payroll of at least a $15 million would be eligible to participate.

An Ohio EPA study of construction and demolition debris landfills, including one on Cochran Road in Solon, found high levels of toxins in leachate samples. The findings have prompted calls for increased oversight of the landfills, and spurred the Ohio House to consider new legislation.

A proposal for JETA's Chagrin River Road development, now named River Valley Manor, was presented at a crowded Bentleyville Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. Developer T.J. Asher has requested the creation of a cluster homes zoning classification for the development, which would include at least 10 buildings of two units each.

The Village of Chagrin Falls announced that it will soon begin accepting purchase offers for its land at West Orange Street, and the Chagrin Herald Sun reviews the different developments proposed for the site.

An $8 million, two story, 114,200 square foot recreational complex with two regulation size indoor ice rinks has been proposed for a site at Mayfield and Caves Roads in Chester Township.

This week's Bruce Blog highlighted a report by the Ohio League of Conservation Voters ranking the worst offenders to the state's environment. Also noted was Chicago's bicycle and pedestrian improvement plan and its effect on Cleveland-area plans and projects (including the recent installation of downtown crosswalk ballards).

Greater Cleveland is ranked as one of the safest metropolitan areas for young pedestrians according to a study that focuses on improving child pedestrian safety. Walkability is stressed as an important factor in building healthier communities.

(via Crain's Cleveland Business)

The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage will have its grand opening next week. The Maltz family, who helped to develop the International Spy Museum and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, created this center which will focus on Cleveland's Jewish community and its impact on American culture.

Fourth-generation convention centers will make better use of technology and environmental integration, according to speakers at yesterday's convention center design symposium.

The Veterans Administration has chosen to negotiate with a partnership led by the City of Brecksville to redevelop the 102 acre VA Medical Center site on the corner of Brecksville Road and Miller Road. The City will keep the current office/laboratory zoning in place while it also helps to develop the Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center campus at Wade Park for the VA's consolidation as a condition of an "enhanced-use" lease.

Preservation Sans Politics, a new weblog, strongly criticizes projects that demolish or call for the demolition of older buildings.

(via the Cleveland Memory Newsletter)

A Newsweek article examines factors that go into building healthy communities that are walkable and that promote regular exercise and discourage automobile-dependence, based on last year's RAND Corporation study indicating that urban sprawl is antithetical to physical and mental well-being.

The West Side Community House will hold a groundbreaking ceremony tomorrow for a new facility at W. 93rd Street and Lorain Avenue. They will move from a building at W. 30th Street and Bridge Avenue, where they have been since 1908.

Yesterday, the Ohio Senate unanimously approved a bill that would establish a moratorium until 2007 on the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes. The Ohio House is expected to vote on eminent domain legislation later this year.

Gene Krebs of Greater Ohio will speak about eminent domain at the City Club on November 14.

This week's news that Strongsville is attempting to wrest a UPS office from Middleburg Heights has provoked a stern rebuke from the Plain Dealer that denounces the City's actions as well as the state's Enterprise Zone program that allows communities to take jobs from other parts of the state and the region.

Kent State's Urban Design Center and Cleveland State's Levin College will host a Shrinking Cities Symposium on October 14. Speakers will include Frank Popper, Justin Hollander, and Margaret Dewar.

A survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit lists Cleveland as the 26th most liveable city in the world, and the highest ranked American city, along with Pittsburgh. The categories used to measure liveability were stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.

The Ohio Supreme Court will hear a case regarding a suburban Cincinnati community's effort to use eminent domain to demolish homes that are "deteriorating" but not blighted in order to build a $125 million mixed-use development.

(Update: the Statehouse News Bureau has an audio report on the Ohio Supreme Court's and the State Senate's upcoming actions.)

Six of the Cuyahoga County NRAC projects were awarded Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation grants, including two Cleveland Metroparks projects and the City of Cleveland's Canal Basin Park. Several Akron-area efforts also received funding.

Inside Business examines the efforts of the First Suburbs Consortium and explores some of the development projects currently underway.

Developers JETA have asked the Village of Bentleyville to create a new cluster homes zoning category for its Chagrin River Road development. The proposal is currently before the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Maple Heights City Council rejected a proposal to sell two lots from the City's land bank to local homebuilders.

Rysar Properties will build 53 homes on the Taylor Chair site at Taylor and Willis streets in Bedford. They will be 1,500 to 2,000 square feet, with prices starting at $190,000. Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2006.

When the City of Strongsville ended a legal battle with developers and signed an agreement allowing retail construction on a site at Royalton Road and I-71, residents responded by suing the city for violating its charter and ordinances.

Legislation is pending in Berea City Council that would require permits and biannual inspections for all single-family rental properties. A similar ordinance has been in place for a year in one district so the City could study its effects.

Funds that became available in Lakewood will be invested in improvements to Lakewood Park, Lakewood Community Progress Incorporated's Main Street (PDF) efforts, and renovations to the Kathleen and Robert Lawther Center.

John Kuehner provides a report on the Lake Erie wind monitoring tower the availability of real time information on wind velocity, temperature, and other measures.

Also mentioned is a Joyce Foundation initiative to minimize pollution from coal-fired power plants.

The owner of Bradley Bay Health Center responds to critics of his expansion plans, saying the expansion would not harm housing values and would provide Bay Village with needed senior housing.

Councilman Cimperman has offered the City of Cleveland's municipal parking lot near E.9th Street and the Shoreway as a potential location for the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority's HOPE VI project.

A historic home at Lake and Nicholson avenues in Lakewood was sold at auction for $610,000. The home's previous owner had attempted to auction off its architectural details, but was blocked by a suit filed by the mortgage holder.

The ceremonial groundbreaking for the controversial Steelyard Commons development was held on Thursday. In addition to the previously announced Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and Home Depot will have stores at the center, scheduled to open in spring 2007.

Towpath Trail advocates continue to push for the establishment of a TIF district that would set aside tax revenues from Steelyard Commons for the completion of the trail through the City of Cleveland.

More detail is provided on the decision by Tops Markets LLC to cancel plans to build a new supermarket in Cleveland's Collinwood neighborhood on East 185th Street and Neff Road.

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