July 2006 Archives
31 July 2006
Scenic Ohio gave its first annual awards for outstanding contribution to the visual and livable quality of Ohio to ODOT District 12, the City of Worthington, the City of Beachwood, and Bath Township in Summit County.
28 July 2006
A new study by the Environmental Integrity Project listed three Ohio power plants among the 50 most polluting plants in the US, including the Avon Lake Generating Station at number 27.
In the second of a two part series, former Plain Dealer reporter Christopher Montgomery shared his opinions about planned downtown developments with Deputy Business Editor John Kroll. The audio is available as an MP3 (7.5 MB) and as a stream (RealAudio).
The Lakewood City School district has spent approximately half of the money allocated for new building construction, and the first buildings should be completed in about a year. School officials say that Phase I of the construction program is proceeding on time and with minimal budget overruns.
Contractors may begin stringing the cables for the Towpath Trail pedestrian bridge over Warner Road in Garfield Heights as early as next week so they can pour the concrete surface in mid-August. Both this bridge and its companion over Granger Road should be open to the public in mid-October.
The Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals rejected plans for a two unit residential building at West 30th Street and Jay Avenue. About two dozen Ohio City residents opposed to the development attended the meeting.
Flood damage that struck the cities of Brecksville, Broadview Heights, Valley View and Independence did not meet the monetary threshold to qualify for assistance through FEMA. Municipal officials responded with disappointment, but acknowledged that repairs must be made. Broadview Heights has also crafted several pieces of legislation intended to prevent future flood damage, including requiring 50-year storm sewers for new developments.
A security consultant reviewed the ten Restore Cleveland business districts. For the Waterloo district, he recommended closed circuit TV cameras, an increased presence of uniformed police officers, and greater building code enforcement.
Berea Municipal Court and City of Berea officials met last week to discuss the city's scaled-down plans for a new Municipal Court. The new plan proposes a 23,450 square foot addition to the existing City Hall. Improvements include two courtrooms, jury and meeting rooms, and offices, but the plan eliminates an elevator and underground parking in order to stay within the City's budget.
Crocker Park developers are proposing changes to the project's city-approved development plan. They include the construction of a hotel at Detroit and Crocker Roads, the addition of a Cleveland Clinic medical building at the district's southern end, and changing first floor retail to residential on a planned extension of Main Street. The site of the proposed medical building was previously slated for a luxury hotel.
Shaker Heights City Council agreed to buy the 2.5 acre former Qua Buick site at Warrensville and Farnsleigh Roads for $1.8 million. The purchase is intended to support the planned redevelopment of the Warrensville-Van Aken area.
Palmieri Builders wants to build five homes on a 12 acre lot along South Woodland Road in Moreland Hills.
27 July 2006
The Ohio Supreme Court yesterday issued an opinion in the Norwood eminent domain case, unanimously ruling that a portion of Ohio's eminent domain law is unconstitutional, and overturning a lower court decision. The opinion by Justice Maureen O'Connor found that, unlike the federal Kelo decision, the Ohio Constitution does not allow the use of eminent domain solely for economic benefit. It also said that courts must apply "heightened scrutiny" when evaluating eminent domain legislation, and that the the use of the term "deteriorating area" as a standard for a taking is unconstitutional. The decision may impact plans for the Flats east bank project in Cleveland and the Cedar Center redevelopment in South Euclid.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson does not support the Cleveland Clinic's plan to close a section of Euclid Avenue to automotive traffic.
This week's Free Times looks at the disagreements between Cleveland Ward 14 Councilman Joe Santiago and the Clark-Metro Development Corporation that led to Santiago to cut off the community development corporation's block grant funding.
26 July 2006
For at least the next four months, a new project moratorium will be in place for land around Chippewa Creek in North Royalton, while officials select members for a panel tasked with developing a management plan for the area.
Prompted by the Intelligent Community Forum's selection of Cleveland as one of its top seven intelligent communities of the year, Public Power Magazine examined the local efforts to deploy broadband technologies led by OneCommunity.
(via Cool Cleveland)
An unnamed buyer is purchasing the Memphis Drive-In theater in Brooklyn. The current owners said it was "an offer we couldn't refuse" and that the theater will remain open at least through this fall.
25 July 2006
The Ohio EPA's new rule regulating mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants reflects federal minimum standards, and requires an 86% reduction in mercury emissions by 2018. The Ohio EPA initially proposed a 90% reduction, but the number was changed by the Taft administration at the behest of utility companies. Upset environmentalists say the decision "is a poison prescription for Ohio."
A Plain Dealer editorial about Case's West Quad project says that "all parties must work together to ensure that its grand vision is realized."
Today's Plain Dealer has more information about concerns surrounding the scheduled reopening of the Bradley Road Landfill in Old Brooklyn.
Advanced Hydro Solutions is suing Metroparks, Serving Summit County in federal court to obtain access to the Gorge Metro Park. In May, the park board voted to deny the company access to the park and the dam.
The Plain Dealer examined the efficacy of Team NEO and other regional initiatives that have been recently created or reorganized to foster economic development, and have found that Northeast Ohio is generally trailing other regions when it comes to increasing wealth and employment. The relatively stagnant local economy comes despite the many organizations devoted to encouraging development, including NorTech and MAGNET.
Both Don Iannone and Valdis Krebs comment on the Plain Dealer's coverage, and provide their own opinions about the regional economy.
The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority purchased the former Jimmy's Bar on Old River Road in the Flats for the planned Flats east bank development. An agreement to purchase the property was reached in April.
An Akron Beacon Journal editorial calls for close examination of Ken Blackell's proposal to lease the Ohio Turnpike. It concludes that the Turnpike is effectively operated, and that the state should exercise "continued control of a valuable transportation asset."
Planners in Lakewood are working with a housing rehabilitator on a pilot project to convert a two-family house into a single-family home. The project is intended to serve as a model for updating the many double houses in the city.
24 July 2006
The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority board tabled a resolution to scrap most of the disassembled Hulett ore unloaders, pending the results of a review being conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
21 July 2006
Greater Cleveland communities continue to react to last month's flooding problems. Solon recently hired a consulting firm, formed a Citizens Committee on Storm Water, and decided to remove overgrown vegetation from streams. Brecksville is rerouting funds in order to repair roads that were among the $1 million in damage to municipal infrastructure.
NEORSD Executive Director Erwin Odeal says that an organized approach to stormwater management will cost between $350 and $400 million. The Sewer District board yesterday hired an engineering firm to examine the feasibility of adding regional stormwater services.
The City of Strongsville is continuing to refine standards for development along Pearl Road between Shurmer and Boston Roads. The standards are intended to limit new retail construction and encourage mixed-use development.
The City of Olmsted Falls will hire a firm to update the City's master plan, last revised 11 years ago. The City has issued and RFQ (PDF), and hopes to make a decision by the end of next month.
Negotiations between NASA and the City of Fairview Park about plans for two buildings the agency intends to close are apparently at an impasse, though both sides want to continue negotiations. The City wants to demolish the buildings and construct an office building for an unidentified business that has agreed to move there. City officials feel that NASA is putting too many restrictions on the site, but NASA representatives contend that the agency has long-term needs for the property.
A construction and demolition debris landfill on Bradley Road in Old Brooklyn that has been closed since last year is scheduled to reopen in several weeks. A settlement reached by the landfill's new owner specifies conditions that it must meet in order to continue operations.
A group of South Euclid residents opposed to the proposed Stoneridge Place development may start a petition drive to bring about a referendum issue to overturn City Council's approval of the project. However, the City's law director feels that Council's approval was an administrative decision, not legislative, and therefore not subject to referendum.
The board of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District agreed to collaborate with the Cleveland Metroparks to construct a building at the Cleveland Metroparks West Creek Reservation in Parma. The building will feature exhibits on watershed issues related to the creek.
20 July 2006
The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will review a request from the City of Cleveland to take over the proposed Doan Brook restoration project, which has been stalled because of higher than expected bids and objections from the Cultural Gardens Federation.
Leaders at Case Western Reserve University remain committed to the West Quad biomedical campus project, despite delays and recent budget cuts at the university. Interim President Gregory Eastwood hopes that negotiations with developer Forest City will be completed in the next few months.
The mayors of Brecksville, Broadview Heights, and North Royalton agreed to create a panel to develop a management plan for Chippewa Creek. The work will partially be funded by a $36,000 ODNR grant to the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization.
Channel 3's Tom Beres reported on the regional stormwater management proposal suggested by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.
Yesterday's 90.3 at 9 show on WCPN focused on quality of life issues in Cuyahoga County's inner-ring suburbs, and featured mayors of four inner-ring communities as guests.
18 July 2006
Tomorrow evening, the Ohio Department of Transportation and the City of Cleveland will hold a public meeting about plans to rebuild (PDF) and calm the West Shoreway. Information about eight potential access points will be introduced at the meeting (PDF), starting at 5:30 p.m. at Sagrada Familia Catholic Church on Detroit Avenue.
The Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board will hold a public hearing about the potential inclusion of Lakewood's Birdtown in the National Register of Historic Places. The hearing will be at the Madison Branch of the Lakewood Public Library on Wednesday, July 19 at 5:30 p.m.
17 July 2006
Roldo Bartimole feels the construction of big box retail in the Chagrin Highlands is an example of Richard Jacobs taking advantage of the public, saying, "It's not what was envisioned for this valuable land. The developments were supposed to be for offices and corporate locations bringing jobs and income tax revenue for the City of Cleveland."
As Frank Jackson signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, GreenCityBlueLake interviewed Cleveland Sustainability Programs Manager Andrew Watterson about changes the City is making.
Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of start of the Hough Riots, and the Plain Dealer's Brent Larkin looks back at the impacts of the riots.
As part of their efforts to address flooding issues, Solon officials are considering a temporary moratorium on new home construction.
A Plain Dealer editorial urges Greater Cleveland communities to accept the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's offer to take responsibility for stormwater management.
14 July 2006
The Cleveland Clinic wants to close a stretch of Euclid Avenue between East 86th and East 105th Streets to cars, diverting traffic to Chester and Carnegie Avenues. The Clinic says the closure would create a pedestrian-friendly campus center, but businesses worry about a loss of patrons, RTA wonders about possible impacts on the Euclid Corridor project, some are concerned about the Clinic's poor track record in creating human-scaled urban environments, and others fear it would isolate nearby neighborhoods.
RTA's proposed reconfiguration of the #821 University Circle/Heights Area Community Circulator, which would shift the route from the Shaker Square area to Severance Town Center, angered store owners, residents, and leaders of institutions near Shaker Square. RTA says the route is severely underutilized and unproductive.
In November, Summit County residents will vote on a 1.46-mill replacement levy for Metroparks, Serving Summit County. It is the park district's first requested millage increase in 12 years (PDF).
(Update: the Akron Beacon Journal has more details.)
Developer Randy Kertesz has offered to transfer the development rights of a seven acre parcel he owns on Miles Road, and then donate the land to Orange Village. Mayor Mulcahy and neighbors of the property are in favor of the idea, but former Mayor Joe Dubyak feels it is an attempt to avoid paying about $700,000 in sewer tap-in fees for the adjacent Lakes of Orange housing development.
The City of Broadview Heights may submit an application to the Ohio Job Ready Sites program for the development of an office park at the northwest corner of Royalton Road and I-77. The property's current owner is suing the City, seeking to have the site's zoning changed from commercial to retail, but may be willing to sell it to the City.
Last Tuesday, Solon's director of public works unveiled a plan to address the City's flooding problems. The plan includes hiring engineering firms to recommend both quick fixes and long-term changes to Solon's sanitary and storm sewer systems. City Council is also considering changing an ordinance that would require downspouts be connected to a storm sewer as well as providing better public health information for residents.
With several large retail developments under construction nearby, the Garfield-Maple Sun examined the future of the Southgate USA shopping center. Mayor Ciaravino of Maple Heights supports rezoning the area to a mixed-use classification, but the center's management feels the area does not need more residential or office space.
Preliminary drawings for a 40 unit independent-living senior apartment building on Cranwood Drive were recently presented to the Garfield Heights Planning Commission. Mayor Longo said that the project would be "filling a tremendous need" within the community.
A recent decision by the North Royalton school board may lead to the sale of 14 acres around Valley Vista Elementary School for residential development. Watershed groups are concerned that development of the land could disrupt the creation of a watershed planning effort, which has recently been funded by two grants, and would damage habitat and educational opportunities. Residents are worried that more development will exacerbate future flooding problems.
By a vote of 6-1, the Bay Village Planning Commission approved revised plans for an expansion of Bradley Bay Health Center.
Residents of Willow Creek in Avon are concerned that a proposed I-90 interchange and commercial development may negatively impact their subdivision. Avon Mayor Jim Smith said the City intends to limit development to the interchange in efforts to protect nearby residential areas, particularly Willow Creek.
Although the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority has initiated eminent domain proceedings against them, some Flats property owners contend that negotiations that might render court action unnecessary have not occurred. The Shaia family and the Khouri/Kassouf partnership feel that their development plans are compatible with the Flats east bank project.
13 July 2006
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has proposed a number of funding changes, including an extensive overhaul of the formula used to determine Community Development Block Grant funding. The proposed changes would put a greater emphasis on poverty rates. While the proposal has not been formally introduced in Congress, the House and the Senate each held hearings late last month.
The board of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance named acting president Joe Marinucci as permanent president and chief executive officer. Marinucci (PDF) had been with the Downtown Cleveland Partnership, the Alliance's predecessor, since 2002.
Cleveland City Council approved a 20 year tax increment financing package for the Corner Alley bowling alley/restaurant/bar under construction at East 4th Street and Euclid Avenue.
12 July 2006
The George Gund Foundation awarded a $440,000 grant to Building Cleveland by Design, a coalition of local organizations that will work to encourage green building design, historic preservation, public parks and open space, and pedestrian and transit friendly design.
Yesterday, Voices & Choices launched a series of Choicebooks, a new website feature that allows Northeast Ohio residents to prioritize regional solutions in six subject areas. The interactive exercise will be available for the next two months, and the results will be used as part of the Regional Town Meeting in September.
Owners of land near Nagel Road in Avon (including the Richard E. Jacobs Group) are offering to pay up to $10 million for the construction of a new I-90 interchange, anticipating it would stimulate development (PDF) of 600 acres on the City's east side.
Flooding caused by recent storms prompted Broadview Heights City Council to begin crafting legislation in support of having the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District manage stormwater regionally.
11 July 2006
The State of Ohio provided a $750,000 Clean Ohio Assistance Fund grant and Cuyahoga County contributed a $1 million low-interest loan for environmental cleanup of the old National Acme site on East 131st Street in Cleveland. The 14 acre site will evenually be used as a warehouse by Handl-It of Bedford Heights.
The Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals approved a request to to close East 4th Street from May through September for outdoor dining. The City's public service director denied the request last month, citing the need for access by emergency vehicles. After a two hour debate, the Board overturned the decision by a vote of 3-1.
A Plain Dealer editorial says that while the Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium has a framework in place, it "can boast little in the way of accomplishment" because "it can't be put to practical use until local politicians tire of ruling over deteriorating fiefdoms."
Although several Greater Cleveland communities challenged earlier attempts to build big box retail in the Chagrin Highlands, construction of the new Harvard Park shopping center has been relatively smooth. The center must meet the requirements of a lawsuit settlement that states no store may exceed 50,000 square feet and permits a maximum of 230,000 square feet of retail.
The Plain Dealer explored the efforts of the Ohio Rail Development Commission and advocacy groups to provide increased passenger rail opportunities in the state, as well as the challenges posed by the rising number of freight trains and the funding of infrastructure improvements.
On Friday, the Cleveland City Planning Commission approved conceptual designs for the new $12 million Willson School. The 77,300 square foot K-8 school at Ansel Road and Kosciuszko Avenue is scheduled for completion in 2008.
When Cleveland Housing Court Judge Raymond Pianka ruled that General Environmental Management could reopen their hazardous waste facility in the Flats and seal records, a Plain Dealer editorial said that the company "got away with robbery", while the Free Times called the decision "ridiculous".
The Plain Dealer recently took a look at businesses moving from one community to another in Northeast Ohio, the incentives they've received, and the ongoing discussions aimed at preventing further poaching of businesses. Don Iannone and Roldo Bartimole responded with suggestions for dealing with poaching.
Leaders of the Beck Center for the Arts continue to study whether they should redevelop their current facilities in Lakewood or relocate to a new site near Crocker Park in Westlake.
07 July 2006
Lee Sprague, who owned and operated the last remaining farm in Strongsville, finalized the sale of his land in May to Richard Puzzitiello, the owner of Parkview Homes Inc. It is believed that Puzzitiello would like to build homes on the land, which would require it to be rezoned from industrial to residential.
Brook Park City Council and officials are beginning the review process of bringing Berea's Municipal Court into their city. Although Clerk of Court Raymond Wohl would prefer the Court to stay in Berea, Wohl has been dissatisfied with Berea's proceedings and conclusions regarding the Municipal Court issue.
According to a spokesman, FEMA funds will initially be directed towards families and homeowners that have suffered flood damages. FEMA teams will return to Cuyahoga and the five other counties that qualified for funding in order to assess damages to public facilities and infrastructure in the near future. Parma officials encourage flood victims in their community to apply immediately to FEMA for disaster relief at (800) 621-FEMA or at their website.
In the last five years, severe storms have caused flooding issues for many property owners within the City of Solon. City officials and residents believe development from upstream communities was contributing to the flooding problem. Without a cooperative effort, the City has limited options for solving the problem.
The first phase of A Place for Us Development, an apartment and condominium project for aging gay, lesbian and transsexual people, is nearly completed, according to co-developer Thomas Gillespie. The first phase includes eight 1-2 bedroom apartments on the second and third floors of the old Painter's Union Building on W. 28th and Detroit.
The development coincides with a growing national demand for gay and lesbian retirement communities.
The old hospital in Broadview Heights will be demolished starting July 17th. In total, three buildings at the Broadview Center are planned to be torn down; however, the demolition company plans to recycle 90 to 95 percent of the construction debris.
Bob Stark may partner with Westlake's Carnegie Management & Development Co., and downtown property owner James Kassouf in his revitalization plans for downtown Cleveland. In the proposal, Carnegie would build 500,000-600,000 sq.ft. of mixed residential, commercial and office space on 10 acres Kassouf owns in the Warehouse District. Stark continues to seek development agreements in order to gain site control for his first phase of development.
The future site of the Bob Stark's 60-acre mixed-use redevelopment at Warrensville and Van Aken Blvd. in Shaker Heights is losing two stores to the existing Stark development at Eton Square. The owners of Mulholland & Sachs and Lisa Moran feel that they must move to Eton to stay afloat, citing "too much transition in this area and no foot traffic" at their current location.
The City of Avon's legal committee intends to recommend council place on the Nov. 7 general election ballot a charter amendment that would require a citizen vote for requests to rezone property from residential to commercial.
Construction of the Crocker-Sterns Road Extension, which will connect Interstates 480 and 90, is set to begin next spring. The Urban Design Center will begin this month to develop a design plan and redevelopment strategy for the project. It is expected to open by fall 2008.
The Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation and the Old Brooklyn Neighborhood Services recently combined to deliver better services for the residents of Old Brooklyn. The combination of these two community development corporations will eliminate duplicative services, save money, and give the community the ability to seek larger development projects.
Ken Blackwell began promoting his plan for leasing out the Ohio Turnpike to a private company on Thursday. According to Blackwell, revenue garnered from a lease agreement could be used to stimulate Ohio's economy. Democratic opponent Ted Strickland and Turnpike Executive Director Gary Suhadolnik, however, believe Blackwell's revenue estimates to be exaggerated.
06 July 2006
Steven Litt sees ODOT's delayed release if its Conceptual Alternatives Study for the Innerbelt reconstruction as representative of ODOT's continued disregard for public opinion. Litt furthermore lauds the initiative taken by a consortium of community development corporations to hire independent engineers to review ODOT's decisions regarding the project.
(via Cleveland History Blog)
In order to alert residents of Cuyahoga County's high foreclosure rate and to reinforce efforts to keep people in their homes and help communities fight blight, the County has recently made foreclosure information available on their website.
The Cleveland Housing Network Inc. held the grand opening for its newly renovated Erie Square in Cleveland's Fairfax neighborhood yesterday. Since the network acquired the heavily blighted housing complex two years ago, the network has made extensive physical improvements while bolstering social amenities, such as a "computer-filled" learning center and a resident services coordinator.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has instructed the Cleveland Planning Commission and Cleveland Airport officials to consider development alternatives for the 450-acre Burke Lakefront Airport site. Options include light recreational uses to the north of the airport, commercial uses to the west and aviation-related uses to the east.
05 July 2006
Unveiled in late June, CityProwl offers downloadable podcast tours that walk visitors and residents through various sites in Cleveland, providing the historical, architectural and cultural information. CityProwl's first tour explores the lower portion of Prospect Avenue.
(via Brewed Fresh Daily)
The site of a proposed housing project that would cater to Cleveland's aging gay and lesbian community has moved from the Warehouse District to Ohio City due to issues with financing. The president of A Place for Us Development Inc., the non-profit proposing the development, asserts that the project is needed because most assisted-living facilities would not allow gay or lesbian couples to live together.
The Cuyahoga Valley National Park Handbook, a new book commissioned by the National Park Service, explores the social, economic and natural history of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The author, Carolyn V. Platt, hopes the book will increase Clevelanders' awareness and appreciation of the park.
03 July 2006
Federal housing officials have approved CMHA's scaled-back plans for its Riverview HOPE VI project on Cleveland's West Side, guaranteeing that the project can still use the $8.5 million in grant money received from HUD.
The Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium (FSC) will be in the spotlight this week during a meeting of the National League of Cities' First Tier Suburbs Council. Although the FSC has not met some of its more expansive goals, the Consortium has helped Northeast Ohio's older suburbs by working with Cuyahoga County to create programs for home-improvement loans and cleaning polluted land, and CMHA to monitor houses rented with federal assistance.
The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority reached an agreement to purchase a parcel owned by Isabella Basile that will be incorporated into developer Scott Wolstein's Flats east bank redevelopment project.
The Port Authority's use of eminent domain to secure land for the project has ignited discussions regarding property rights and the use of eminent domain as an economic development tool.
More than $3.1 million in federal grants will be divided between four enhancement projects on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. The projects include three additions in Summit County and one trail expansion in Portage County. All are to begin in mid-2007.
After Gov. Bob Taft petitioned the federal government last week, President Bush declared that six counties in Northeast Ohio, including Cuyahoga, will receive financial assistance through FEMA for damages incurred by flooding. Reimbursement expenses and low-interest loans will be available to eligible parties.