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December 2005 Archives

In the first of a three-part series, the West Side Sun News examines Robert Stark's motivations and plans for his proposed downtown Cleveland redevelopment, which start with a large infill development in the Warehouse District.

Next year, Mayor Procuk of Brooklyn Heights intends to focus on planning for the development of the Village's northern section.

As the Friends of Big Creek continue planning a new trail in Brooklyn, Mayor Patton says eminent domain will not be employed, and that the City has no plans to become involved in the process.

A study to evaluate flooding problems in North Royalton found that the Ohio Turnpike expansion had only a slight effect on flooding, but that mitigating erosion problems caused by the expansion could cost between $2.3 and $3.7 million.

Developers of Renaissance Park in Strongsville plan to break ground on the project at Pearl and Whitney Roads in about four months. The first phase will be the construction of a 118,000 square foot Lowe's store, and the second phase is slated to include additional retail and office space. Developer David Lewanski hopes to obtain municipal assistance in acquiring a motel on the site, as well as a TIF agreement.

Brunswick officials favor hiring an outside consulting firm to study the ramifications of a possible merger with Brunswick Hills Township.

A 3-3 tie in Bentleyville Village Council was broken when Mayor Michael Canty cast the deciding vote granting 133 variances for the JETA development near Chagrin River Road. Madison Woods will consist of 12 two-unit cluster homes.

Crain's Cleveland Business interviews Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman, who provides his thoughts on economic and neighborhood development, Steelyard Commons, and the convention center.

A Plain Dealer editorial views MOCA's move to University Circle as an important step towards reinvigorating University Circle.

A new residential development in Brunswick will introduce 100 new homes on property owned by an adjacent apple orchard and restaurant.

As eight Northeast Ohio land trusts prepare to merge on January 1, WCPN's Karen Schaefer explores the opportunities and challenges ahead for the new Western Reserve Land Conservancy. The station has also prepared a directory of local environmental web sites.

$7.9 million worth of grants were awarded this December by the George Gund Foundation, including the previously mentioned funding of the relocation of MOCA to University Circle and a $500,000 grant to the County Planning Commission's Cuyahoga Valley Initiative to implement sustainability strategies throughout the Valley.

With a mix of excitement and trepidation, Mayfield Heights residents are anticipating this spring's development of Hidden Woods, a residential development at SOM Center Road and Ridgebury Boulevard.

The Akron Beacon Journal summarizes progress made over the past year to extend the Towpath Trail throughout Summit County.

Steven Litt is confident that University Circle will see a resurgence under the direction of Chris Ronayne who has been entrusted to continue the district's redevelopment.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority has set aside $2 million to provide a hedge against possible bankruptcy should one of their many development projects default on their loans.

The City of Parma will begin focusing code enforcement efforts throughout its northern neighborhoods between Snow Road and Brookpark Road. The City will also begin channeling more redevelopment funds to the area.

A Plain Dealer article highlights the work of Cleveland State University librarian Bill Barrow to preserve the history of Northeast Ohio through the Cleveland Memory Project.

A new span for the West Third Street Lift Bridge was floated upriver yesterday. The old span was removed in May, and the bridge is scheduled to reopen next June.

CSU Levin College Dean Mark Rosentraub urges local leaders to "rebuild the economy and remove barriers to regional cooperation."

Wells Real Estate Funds, an Atlanta-based REIT, has acquired a 50% ownership of Key Tower from the State Teachers Retirement System. The Jacobs Group will maintain its 50% ownership and management duties.

PolyOne Corp. is seeking a three year, 100% tax abatement for a $5.5 million expansion of their facilities on Walker Road in Avon Lake.

Bentleyville Village Council was expected to approve about 148 variances on Wednesday that would allow JETA to build its proposed 24 unit cluster home project, now apparently called Madison Woods.

Officials from Cleveland and Lakewood have reached a joint development agreement for the area along W.117th Street between Edgewater Drive and Berea Road. The agreement has yet to be ratified by the two city councils.

While some former churches have been redeveloped for other uses, the inverse also occurs. The former Palisades bowling alley in Euclid will become the new home of House of Jubilee Ministries Church.

Advanced Hydro Solutions rejected a request by Metro Parks, Serving Summit County to conduct an environmental impact study (PDF) for the Gorge Metro Park, where the company wants to build a small hydroelectric plant. A Metro Parks representative calls the decision "a huge disappointment."

The Ohio Supreme Court unanimously ruled yesterday that property ownership includes the right to the groundwater beneath the land, and that water diversions by the government can be considered a property take entitled to compensation.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial offers mild praise for the new rules for construction and demolition debris landfills in Ohio House Bill 397, calling them "a good first step."

US EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson is proposing reducing the daily limit for fine particle pollution while leaving the annual limit untouched. A panel of scientific advisers recommended tightening both standards. The agency will make a final decision in September 2006.

Channel 3 reports that the Ohio legislature is likely to pass a law next month that will void the City of Cleveland's residency requirement for City workers. Mayor-elect Jackson says he will challenge the law in court.

Yesterday, Cleveland officials released a $4.6 million concept plan for a nature preserve at Dike 14. It calls for a six acre wetland, bicycle paths, hiking trails, and an observation deck. More testing is needed to determine if the former sediment disposal facility is safe for public access.

Plain Dealer columnist Phillip Morris urges local leaders to be more aggressive in promoting and encouraging arts and culture.

Team NEO president Bob Farley will leave the organization in March to become senior vice president of a local corporate relocation firm. Don Iannone feels "that we might have some difficulty replacing Bob with a known national talent."

The southern alignment concept for a new Innerbelt Bridge was presented to the Cleveland City Planning Commission on Friday. Meanwhile, the Plain Dealer's Steven Litt criticizes ODOT's design process, including its lack of transparency, delayed reporting, and accelerated timetable.

Solid waste volumes in several Northeast Ohio counties have declined over the past year, but Cuyahoga County's volume has remained steady. Some attribute the drop to the declining regional economy.

Cleveland and Cuyahoga County officials are pursuing the possibility of developing a permanent medical equipment exhibition center that would be developed adjacent to a new convention center. Modeled after Chicago's Merchandise Mart, the center would be designed to lure more medical conventions to Cleveland.

An agreement has been reached to preserve 154 acres of old-growth forest in Hunting Valley. Developer Scott Wolsten signed a conservation easement with the Chagrin River Land Conservancy as a part of developing his own estate.

The current construction of Emerald Commons presages the hoped-for development of several other projects that would create 1,000 affordable residential units over the next several years by the Cleveland Housing Network.

Faced with the Port Authority's announcement of a study to recommend strategies for removing the Hulett unloaders, Cleveland Councilman Matt Zone wants to relocate the historic industrial artifacts to Wendy Park on Whiskey Island.

Several economic development programs received funding through the Cleveland Foundation's latest round of grants, including projects in University Circle and the east side neighborhoods served by Shorebank Enterprise Group.

Next month, Flats property owners will receive purchase offers from the Port Authority in anticipation of the impending demolition and site preparation for the Flats East Bank Neighborhood development. The use of eminent domain remains an option.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority will commission a study to determine the method and cost for removal of the Hulett ore unloaders currently being stored on the port's Whiskey Island property.

The Village of Hunting Valley is considering a new zoning ordinance that would permit the division of parcels greater than 30 acres, half as a conservation area and half for smaller homes. A vote is expected in March.

The City of Garfield Heights is seeking a $75,000 grant from NOACA to help fund a traffic impact study of the area surrounding the I-480 interchange at Transportation Boulevard. Anticipated traffic increases are expected to create a need for additional lanes and reconfigured ramps.

North Royalton officials expect that the planned Town Center District would attract national retailers, and City Council will consider two related resolutions. One would authorize Mayor Luks to sign a project development agreement with The Coral Company, and the other would adopt the economic development study and plan.

The Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine will lose its Chester Avenue home to a Cleveland Clinic expansion, and is considering a move to the former Realty One building in Independence.

By a vote of 4-1, Avon City Council refused to rezone 22.7 acres at the southeast corner of Detroit and Center Roads from residential to retail. Many expect that developer Greg Romes will sue the City over the rejection.

Despite the recent federal funding of the green bulkhead project, a larger pool of money is needed to repair or replace several miles of bulkheading along the Cuyahoga River Navigation Channel.

In a meeting last week, North Olmsted citizens and RTA officials, including general manager Joe Calabrese, discussed the quality of service since RTA took over services previously provided by NOMBL. Calabrese said some steps have been taken and he pledged continued improvements.

The US EPA is moving to ease Clear Air regulations for reporting industrial air pollution in response to an Associated Press analysis of the EPA's data that showed inequities in the racial and economic status of neighborhoods experiencing unhealthy air. The new regulations would effectively reduce the amount of information provided to the public.

(Via Planetizen)

The enactment of a six-month demolition moratorium for a historic Shaker Heights mansion has attracted attention from people interested in purchasing the home.

Cleveland should focus on fresh water-related innovation as a field in which it could lead the country, according to Chris Varley, who cites CLEERTEC as leading the charge to develop exportable environmental technologies.

The George Gund Foundation has awarded $2.1 million to MOCA to facilitate its move to the University Circle arts and retail district on the corner of Euclid and Mayfield Avenues. The Museum will be located on the Triangle property, thereby anchoring the new district.

(Via Planetizen)

CMHA has purchased 25 acres on Kinsman Road and E.80th Street with the intent to build a central administration facility, apparently setting aside plans to develop offices at the Van Dorn complex. The purchased property was previously planned for the development of the Hemisphere Industrial Park.

The 5th Ohio District Court of Appeals ruled against the City of Hudson in a case where the City's zoning code imposed a size restriction for political signs.

The recently-released Cuyahoga County's 2006 budget includes an extra $1.5 million to the Department of Development to help pay for the strategies proposed by the Blue Ribbon Economic Development Taskforce and reflects funding received from the state from the Clean Ohio Fund for the new County Administration Building site.

ODOT has chosen an engineering firm to design the new Innerbelt Bridge. Pittsburgh's Michael Baker Corporation also was involved with the Fulton Road Bridge Replacement Project.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial demands a substantial response from the Bush Administration to implement the restoration strategies developed this week by the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration and to eliminate what it perceives as the most dire threat to water quality: combined sewer overflows.

The Ohio House and Senate have both passed bills establishing new environmental rules for construction and demolition debris landfills.

Two local projects were among those selected for Clean Ohio Brownfields funding this year: the Ameritrust complex received $3 million for asbestos abatement and the Flats East Bank project was awarded $3 million for demolition and remediation.

K&D Group has bought the downtown Embassy Suites Hotel, which is attached to their recently purchased adjacent Reserve Square apartment complex. $5 million will be spent renovating the hotel.

Black and poor Americans are more likely to live in neighborhoods beset by industrial air pollution than persons living in neighborhoods that are more affluent or have a lower proportion of persons of color, according to an Associated Press analysis of US EPA data. Ohioans fare particularly poorly, with a concentration of neighborhoods along the Ohio River and Lake Erie that are affected by poor air quality.

The Associated Press provides an online tool for readers to ascertain the level of risk in their own communities.

(Via Great Lakes Information Network)

Water drawn from the Great Lakes must remain within the water basin, according to the agreement signed yesterday by the Great Lakes Governors and Premiers. The regional agreement prohibits the export of water outside of the watershed, except to communities on the border of the basin, or in shipments of bottles. The states and provinces have also pledged to adopt conservation plans to preserve the Great Lakes.

A Plain Dealer editorial supports some of the ideas emerging from the Blue Ribbon Economic Development Taskforce, especially the early-childhood program and the Cuyahoga Innovation Zones, but challenges the County Commissioners to use the allocated funds to leverage more money for more-visible projects of scale.

(Update: Chas Rich disagrees with the editorial stance that a significantly larger response is necessary.)

The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy was released yesterday by a broad coalition of government agencies and private groups seeking to improve water quality throughout the Great Lakes. While the report calls for a wide range of local interventions, including several in Northeast Ohio regarding contaminated sediments, restoration of wetlands, and protection of riparian areas, politicians and advocates question the commitment of the Bush administration to provide funds for implementation.

The City Club has posted the talk (MP3, 19.6 MB) that featured David Abbott and Carolyn Lukensmeyer discussing Voice & Choices on December 2.

A Plain Dealer editorial lauds the long-delayed cleanup of the Ashtabula River.

A Streetsboro property owner cites concerns about sprawl and accompanying pollution as the incentives for making plans to develop a walkable neighborhood and parkland.

Crain's Cleveland Business interviews the Cleveland Foundation's Director of Economic Development, Brad Whitehead, on the Foundation's projects, including Voices & Choices and the Civic Innovation Lab, which provided seed funding to CityWheels.

A task force convened by Cuyahoga County released a draft plan to increase the county's economic development budget from $5 million to $8.5 million that would be used to develop five regional initiatives that would focus on redevelopment and investments in emerging industries.

A Plain Dealer editorial advocates planning for the Opportunity Corridor, stating that the route connecting University Circle to I-490 could help both residents of the Forgotten Triangle and commuters to Cleveland's eastside.

Another editorial calls for federal support for the Great Lakes including $20 billion in funding for programs to improve water quality through environmental remediation and the barring of diversions of water outside of the Great Lakes region.

While lakefront property continues to be attractive to potential homeowners, the state representative who sponsored a bill to limit public access to the shoreline is attempting to purchase a tax-delinquent Lake Erie parcel adjacent to his Avon Lake property that had been used by neighbors whose deeds include the right to use the land.

The Ashtabula River will be the focus of a $50 million environmental remediation project. PCB-contaminated sediment will be removed from the mouth of the river for isolation and treatment, funded in part by the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002.

Strongsville officials say it would take about $37 million to complete the last of the City's major infrastructure improvements: widening Pearl Road and building a new municipal complex.

An economic study of North Royalton's Town Center District calls for increased infrastructure investments to support planned developments. City Council also passed three bills regarding the project and development incentives.

Avon City Council is poised to vote on Monday on whether to approve the proposed 22.7 acre retail rezoning at Detroit and Center Roads.

Next year, officials from the City of Lakewood and the Lakewood City School District will begin preparing a master plan for the city's youths, with assistance from the National League of Cities.

North Olmsted Mayor Thomas O'Grady will serve as chair of the West Shore Council of Governments.

Site preparation and construction on the Gemini Project in Fairview Park is proceeding according to plan.

The Friends of Big Creek hope to link the Towpath Trail and the Cleveland Metroparks Big Creek Reservation via a new trail connecting existing greenways and public amenities. It would run behind the Cascade Crossing development, and the group is hoping for cooperation from owners Forest City.

Cleveland Councilman Michael Dolan is worried that planned Lorain Avenue streetscape improvements may be delayed by the incoming Jackson administration.

The bank that acquired a historic yet deteriorating mansion at the corner of Lee and South Woodland Roads is seeking permission to demolish it. Shaker Heights City Council imposed a six month emergency moratorium to protect the house while its landmark status is studied.

Millions of dollars are needed to repair Cuyahoga River bulkheads asserts the Flats Oxbow Association. While federal funds have been allocated for "green bulkheads", stakeholders argue that additional assistance is needed to maintain shipping along the navigation channel.

Plain Dealer reporters John Kuehner and Steven Koff summarize recent efforts to improve water quality in the Great Lakes, which is said to be at the "tipping point" in terms of irreversible environmental damage and which also faces increasing pressures to divert water divert water out of the watershed amidst a lack of funding from the Bush Administration.

Stating that the federal government has done too little to address global warming, a delegation of U.S. Mayors and Governors are continuing their efforts to improve air quality on a local level through their attendance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

There will be a public meeting tonight to present and discuss plans for improving vehicular and pedestrian access to University Circle. The study is expected to be completed by Spring 2006.

Early next year, the new "Money Museum" will open at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, marking the first public opening of the Bank in four years. Exhibits will be mainly tailored to children.

Michael Gill of the Free Times describes the political environment surrounding the alignment of the Innerbelt Bridge and illustrates the delayed plans of several developments by focusing on the construction of the Western Reserve Fire Museum.

The latest Cool Cleveland includes Roldo Bartimole's column on Mayor-elect Jackson's motions towards regionalism and more letters about the Innerbelt Bridge.

Approval is pending for a project southeast of Streetsboro that would include 800 acres of parkland and 400 acres of ecologically-friendly mixed-use development. Located near the Cuyahoga River and Lake Rockwell, the potential development involves Sahbra Farm, the Ohio EPA, and the Portage Park District.

Sam Fulwood III of the Plain Dealer comments on Cleveland Mayor-elect Frank Jackson's apparent endorsement of regionalism.

(Via Brewed Fresh Daily)

The Great Lakes Radio Consortium reports on the effects of air deposition on water quality, specifically referring to PCBs, dioxins, and mercury coming from coal-fired power plants that eventually settles into the Great Lakes.

With a moratorium on new landfills due to expire at the end of the year, the Ohio legislature is preparing a bill that sets new regulations for landfills for construction and demolition debris.

WCPN presents highlights from the Lake Erie conference held last week at Lorain Community College.

The Cleveland Law Library Weblog covers a recent ruling that the Mayfield Heights city charter did not give the mayor veto power over a city council-passed zoning variance.

The Akron Beacon Journal summarizes competing ferry projects to Canada from Cleveland, Erie PA, and Grand River, and ponders the economic sustainability of a trans-Erie ferry.

Last week's Hotel Bruce argues for an independent study of the alignment of the Innerbelt Bridge, covers the possible expansion of a Mittal Steel landfill on a site adjacent to the Cuyahoga River and Slavic Village, and announces the launch of CityWheels, Cleveland's new carsharing program.

By early next year, a consultant to the Army will release a report detailing contamination on 14 sites throughout the Ravenna Arsenal. The 33.5 square mile site, officially known as the Ravenna Army Ammunition Facility, is undergoing environmental remediation in preparation for use as an Ohio Army National Guard training facility. As part of the cleanup, another study will determine whether six PCB-contaminated buildings can be safely burned.

Developers intent to establish an 83 acre business park on Miller Road in Brecksville west of I-77. When fully developed, it could include as much as 1 million square feet of office space.

The City of Avon will accept public comments on the proposed 22.7 acre retail rezoning at Detroit and Center Roads until December 12.

A historic 1830s home and carriage house in North Olmsted is on a property slated to become the site of the City's new Fire Station No. 2 next year. City officials and the Olmsted Historical Society would like to move the carriage house to the Frostville Museum in the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation.

Work on the Gordon Square Homes project is scheduled to begin this month. The $16 million renovation of four buildings in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood includes 64 apartments as well as commercial space.

A trial to set damages in the Shemo Case has again been postponed. It has been rescheduled for next spring because of a problem with the appraiser for the City of Mayfield Heights.

The City of Cleveland agreed to purchase the former Big Lots store on Lake Shore Boulevard for $900,000, avoiding a scheduled court hearing. The City intends to convert the building to a recreation center.

On Monday, the board of Coventry Neighbors voted to dissolve the dormant neighborhood association formed in 1969.

Citizens attending a community meeting in Avon expressed concern and disapproval of ongoing plans to add a new I-90 interchange and expand the local road network. Decision makers, however, remain committed to the process.

City of Cleveland mayor-elect Frank Jackson will appoint a point-person in charge of regional issues. While details on the position have not yet been established, this move portends increased regional cooperation.

The City of Akron will receive a pilot wireless network that could eventually lead to citywide internet access. The City will provide its partnering company access to city infrastructure for mounting the antennas that will initially provide Wi-Fi service, but could eventually be upgraded to WiMAX, which would cover a much larger area.

In the final installment of the Forest City series, Plain Dealer reporter Christopher Montgomery examines the developer's long term impact on Northeast Ohio including its regional portfolio, and compares the local development prospects with other regions impacted by the company.

Continuing coverage will be provided by the Forest City weblog.

Biologists are growing increasingly concerned about the disappearance of diporeia from the Great Lakes and how it could lead to the collapse of fish stocks throughout the Great Lakes.

A report by Ohio PIRG urges sewer districts to provide public notices when combined sewer overflow events take place and to take steps to address ongoing water quality issues related to CSOs. NEORSD has recently added to their website a CSO overview section that describes what the district is doing to alleviate overflows.

The Ohio Supreme Court is presently hearing a case between the City of Cleveland and a finance industry trade organization regarding laws that the City enacted that are intended to combat predatory lending.

(Via Cleveland Law Library Weblog)

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