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March 2007 Archives

More than 250 Northeast Ohio civic leaders attended this morning's official unveiling of the Advance Northeast Ohio plan. The four-pronged action plan is aimed at improving the regional economy. The plan's website also launched, and the frequently-updated site features the action plan, news, multimedia, and information on initiatives for 2007.

CB Richard Ellis expects Greater Cleveland retail construction to slow in 2007. "It's a time when you've had so much development come onto the market in such a short period of time, the market just needs to adjust itself," explains Keith Hamulak. He also predicts that a lifestyle center will be built on the site of the former Brecksville VA hospital.

Three nonprofit organizations are funding a $100,000 study by TerreMark Partners on the feasibility of retail on lower Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland.

The Portage Park District has begun developing a countywide parks, trails, and greenways plan. The $65,000 plan will take about a year to complete. Seven public meetings will be held to collect public input.

Dimensions of Ohio's Foreclosure Crisis (PDF), a new report from the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, says that 73% of subprime loans in the state were made in middle and upper income areas.

Early last week, the City of Garfield Heights shut down construction of the Bridgeview Crossing shopping center because the builders had no plan for stormwater management at the construction site. Developer Snider-Cannata plans to submit plans soon.

Developer TransCon Builders filed a complaint against Solon Taxpayers Against Rezoning, claiming that literature distributed by the group contains several inaccuracies. TransCon is seeking voter approval for a rezoning that would permit them to build a senior housing development along Aurora Road.

Leaders in Independence introduced legislation that would designate the area behind Concordia Lutheran Church and the Independence Technology Center as a senior housing district. It will go before the Planning Commission on Tuesday.

A year after a 4.5 acre site on Route 82 in Strongsville was cleared for the construction of a hotel, it appears that the development will not occur.

Rocky River officials are waiting to hear if the proposed Cleveland to Lorain commuter rail project could affect their plans for a railroad quiet zone before they decide whether to support the commuter rail proposal.

Robyn Sandys will succeed Jay Gardner as executive director of the Brooklyn-Brighton Community Development Corporation. She was previously Director of Development and Marketing at Case's Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations.

Residents in Clark Metro want the Clark Metro Development Corporation to stay open. Last year, Cleveland Councilman Joe Santiago cut off City funding for the CDC. It is now down to two employees, and may be forced to close or merge with another CDC.

A Chagrin Falls resident created Preserve Chagrin Falls and started a petition to gauge the level of concern in the community about proposed changes to the Village's zoning code that he says could lead to a rise in mansionization and teardowns.

The Centerville Mills Committee in Bainbridge Township recommended that the 161 acre property should become a passive park. Township Trustees are not expected to immediately act on the suggestion.

JETA, Inc. wants its 24 unit cluster home development on Chagrin River Road in Bentleyville to tie into the Chagrin Falls wastewater treatment plant. Chagrin Falls has had a moratorium on connections outside the Village since 1996.

As expected, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners voted 2-1 today to demolish the Cleveland Trust Tower and to replace it with a new county administration building to be designed by Kohn Pederson Fox and Robert P. Madison International.

Sam Miller of Forest City Enterprises declared that the only way Greater Cleveland can survive is with a unified regional government, and offered to fund a two year "communitywide process to look at the way we are governed."

Six developers spoke to a crowd of around 1,000 young professionals at the House of Blues last night in a Professionals in the City event. The event generated mixed reviews.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that local leaders need to commit to the strategies identified in Advance Northeast Ohio. "Northeast Ohio's leaders and residents must work together on all four areas. And they must do so with a sense of urgency."

The Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 24, which changes the rules of the Ohio Job Ready Sites program so that applicants in certain counties cannot excluded from applying for grants. Earlier rules included a minimum property requirement size that prevented urbanized counties from competing.

Yesterday, the Ohio Senate unanimously approved Governor Strickland's $7.8 billion two year transportation bill, without the controversial earmarks inserted by the Ohio House. The Ohio House later agreed to support the Senate version of the bill.

Boston Heights Village Council is considering raising the maximum permitted size of single-story retail establishments from 50,000 square feet to 125,000 square feet. If approved, it would permit the construction of proposed big box stores.

Scene tells the story of the aborted Cleveland Quarries project in South Amherst.

The Cleveland Chapter of the American Institute of Architects is encouraging people to attend Thursday's Cuyahoga County Board of County Commissioners meeting to urge the Commissioners to preserve and renovate the Cleveland Trust Tower.

The latest round of grants from the Cleveland Foundation includes $4.2 million for Neighborhood Progress Incorporated, $450,000 for the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, and $200,000 to help fund a feasibility study for Lake Erie wind turbines. Also, the Ohio Lake Erie Commission awarded $9,974 to the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization to inventory land use regulations of communities in the Cuyahoga River watershed.

The Ohio Department of Transportation plans to demolish at least five notable buildings in downtown Cleveland as part of their Innerbelt reconstruction project. The Ohio Historic Preservation Office is reviewing the buildings for possible inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. If the structures are deemed eligible, ODOT could still raze them if they can prove that there are no reasonable alternatives.

Over 285 people attended last night's listening session at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to offer suggestions on ways the Park could invest funds from the proposed NPS Centennial Initiative. Citizens can also provide feedback via the web until April 2.

Lee Chilcote describes the efforts by Cleveland State University leaders to transform the campus by implementing the campus master plan, employing green building techniques, and restoring historic structures. Officials hope that the investments will serve as a catalyst for development in the area, including the Euclid Avenue collegetown plan.

Stakeholders at a West Shoreway meeting (PDF) last week identified a preferred option for the layout of the ramp near West Boulevard, Lake Avenue, and Clifton Boulevard. The proposal, which would add 3.4 acres to Edgewater Park, will be presented to the Cleveland Planning Commission this week.

In November, Avon residents will be asked to vote on a proposed 0.25% income tax on people who work in the City. Tax revenues would be used to pay for a proposed minor league baseball stadium and a sports and recreation complex at I-90 and State Route 611. Roughly 90% of Avon residents would not be affected by the tax.

(Update: the Plain Dealer provides more information.)

Great Lakes Resources was the only company to submit a bid to CMHA to develop a shopping center adjacent to the planned CMHA headquarters at East 80th Street and Kinsman Road in Cleveland's Forgotten Triangle. Great Lakes offered to purchase five acres for $825,000 to build a 52,000 square foot center, or to lease 3.25 acres to build a 21,000 square foot center.

A new poll conducted by Quinnipiac University found that the majority of Ohio voters oppose the use of eminent domain in any circumstances. "Voters just do not like eminent domain," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

(via Planetizen)

Greater Cleveland's foreclosure crisis attracted the attention of the national media. Last week, the Chicago Tribune explored the problem in several Cleveland neighborhoods, and the New York Times examined its impacts on Cleveland's inner-ring suburbs.

Meanwhile, Policy Matters Ohio released their annual foreclosure analysis, and reported that there were 79,072 foreclosure filings in the state last year, an increase of 23.6% over 2005 figures. Cuyahoga County again had the largest number of filings, 13,610 new cases, up 24.5%.

(Update: WKSU has more details.)

Erin Aleman summarizes David Morganthaler's recent talk at Cleveland State's Levin College Forum. "The bottom line is we must create jobs that are high paying value-added jobs."

Advance Northeast Ohio, a regional economic action plan that is an outgrowth of the Voices & Choices project, will be officially unveiled at a kickoff meeting on Friday morning at the Knight Center in Akron. It will focus on four areas: growing businesses, preparing the work force, improving opportunities for minority-owned companies, and making government more efficient.

(via Brewed Fresh Daily)

CSU's The Cauldron examined local reactions to the Earth Day Network's 2007 Urban Environment Report, which ranked Cleveland 70th in its list of 72 cities. Cleveland Sustainability Progam Manager Andrew Watterson feels that the methodology was flawed, and that the City is working to address many of the issues raised in the report.

Cleveland City Council established an Urban Garden District zoning classification. The permitted main uses in the district are community gardens, "land managed and maintained … to grow and harvest food crops and/or non-food, ornamental crops for personal or group use, consumption or donation," and market gardens, "land managed and maintained … to grow and harvest food crops and/or non-food, ornamental crops, such as flowers, to be sold for profit."

Project for Public Spaces Vice President Cynthia Nikitin will speak about placemaking and revitalizing neighborhood commercial corridors on May 23 at 7:00 p.m. at Forest Hill Church in Cleveland Heights. The session is free and open to the public.

A report by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Ohio EPA, to be released later this year or in early 2008, may answer some questions regarding unhealthy fish populations in upstream Tinkers Creek. The questions involve levels of turbidity, as well as the presence and effect of pharmaceutical products in the stream.

Preliminary work is currently underway on installing noise barriers along I-71 in Cleveland's west side. About five miles of noise abatement walls will be built. The $5.9 million project is now scheduled to be completed in October.

As part of the reconstruction and repaving of Lake Road in Bay Village, Rocky River, and Lakewood, ODOT will incorporate some recommendations that have been gathered through traffic studies and area stakeholder outreach, including traffic calming, streetscaping, and pedestrian amenities.

The Stark House, one of Garfield Heights' oldest homes, was razed to accommodate construction of the Bridgeview Crossing shopping center at Granger Road and Transportation Boulevard. The owner of the 1864 house sold it to developers for $150,000 in January.

The May senior housing rezoning issue in Solon will not mention the maximum residential density permitted under the rezoning. At the request of developer TransCon Builders, the Ohio Secretary of State's office ordered the county BOE to remove the "10-units-per-acre" reference from the ballot. TransCon says they plan to build at a lower density, but Solon Councilman Ed Suit countered that the company could legally change their plans if voters approve the rezoning.

Last Tuesday, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights school board rejected all bids for the 10.9 acre Millikin site near Severance Town Center. The site was appraised at $2.5 million, but the highest cash offer was $500,000. The district plans to try to get fair market value for the land and return it to productive use. However, a growing number of neighbors are urging the board to preserve what they call "the city's last wilderness area."

As part of their campaign to get Mittal steel to reduce air pollution emanating from their Cleveland mill, Ohio Citizen Action brought Lois Gibbs, director of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, to Cleveland. She declared it one of the "hardest-hit neighborhoods" she'd ever seen. Mittal Steel officials maintained that their emissions are well within federal EPA limits.

The City of Rocky River will implement a railroad quiet zone, and City Council is debating whether it should be a partial or an all-day quiet zone. Mayor Bobst recommended a quiet zone from 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. and safety enhancements such as increasing signage near railroad crossings. Most residents favor the 24-hour quiet zone.

Earlier this month, officials at NASA Glenn Research Center submitted a master plan that involves consolidating its central campus, growing its western campus, and increasing visibility and access to its northern campus. NASA leadership is expected to make a decision on the plan by this summer.

The latest US Census Bureau county population estimates show continued population losses in Greater Cleveland. Between July 2005 and July 2006, Cuyahoga County lost an estimated 16,187 people, and the seven county area lost 11,475. Medina County was again Northeast Ohio's fastest-growing county, with an estimated 12.1% population increase since 2000. Cleveland.com provides an interactive map showing population change in Ohio between 2000 and 2006.

(Update: Paul Oyaski and Mark Rosentraub discussed the figures with Regina Brett on Friday's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN.)

Attorneys representing the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and flats landowners debated about eminent domain and the Flats east bank project for five hours in Cuyahoga County Probate Court. At the judge's request, the two sides will attempt to reach a settlement in talks that will begin tomorrow. If they are unable to reach an agreement, Judge Corrigan is expected to make a ruling in the next 10 days.

On Monday, Bay Village City Council passed a resolution of support for the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon.

(Update: the Sun Herald has more details.)

Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis testified about predatory lending and foreclosures before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Domestic Policy. "The damage has been enormous, but sadly, the news of the past few months convinces me that the worst is yet to come." Inez Killingsworth of the East Side Organizing Project also testified.

The City of Avon is expected to announce that a minor league baseball team will play at a stadium the City plans to build at I-90 and State Route 611. Plans call for the Frontier League team to join a YMCA, water park, ice rink, and soccer and baseball facilities on the 120 acre site. The project's funding package would include a 0.25% wage tax. Officials from the City of Lorain have also been trying to attract a Frontier League team to Campana Park.

By a vote of 4-5, Broadview Heights City Council rejected a proposal for assessing residents to fund stormwater projects. Some favor creating a stormwater utility, which they say would be fairer to residents and help pay for future projects.

(Update: the Sun Courier offers more information.)

Case Western Reserve University is in the planning stages for a new $40 million, 75,000 square foot campus center near Thwing Center and Kelvin Smith Library. A fall 2008 groundbreaking is planned, with completion expected by spring 2011.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett will attend a Northeast Ohio listening session as part of the National Park Service's Centennial Initiative. The Park Service wants public input in "shaping the future of America's national parks." The session will be held on March 26 from 5:00 to 8:00 at the Happy Days Visitor Center in Peninsula.

CSU's Levin College Forum will host "Our Place in the Urban Age: The Downtown Comeback: Myths and Realities" on April 11, featuring Alan Ehrenhalt, the Executive Editor of Governing. On April 13, the Forum will host "Transfer of Development Rights: A Demonstration Study". Keynote speaker Rick Pruetz will present the findings of a study that examined the economic feasibility of TDRs.

The latest round of grants awarded by the Gund Foundation includes over $200,000 to the Downtown Cleveland Alliance for a variety of projects, and $125,000 to the Institute for Conservation Leadership to provide training and assistance to Ohio environmental organizations.

The Flats east bank eminent domain case will be heard by a Cuyahoga County Probate Court judge this week. Both sides say that the Ohio Supreme Court's Norwood decision supports their position. Flats landowners argue that economic development is the sole reason for the eminent domain action, while the Port Authorty claims that the project will serve the public by creating new public areas and removing blight.

(Update: the weblog Psychobilly Democrat ponders whether the "development proponents exceed the 'solely for economic benefit' limit established in last year's Norwood decision.")

Cuyahoga County cities impacted by last summer's flooding have adopted a variety of policies and funding mechanisms to deal with the problem, but many of the efforts are too late to protect against possible flooding this spring.

Some local housing experts fear that the tighter lending policies that have followed the subprime lending collapse will cause a housing glut in Northeast Ohio, when combined with the foreclosure crisis and new housing construction.

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District Trustee Gary Starr wants the district to control cost overruns on construction contracts. "I've become passionate about it because I believe we need to change the way we spend our money and we've had some contracts go way, way over."

Trustees of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History selected Fentress Bradburn Architects of Denver to design the museum's expansion and renovation. The firm will develop a preliminary design by September.

Officials in Mayfield Heights have not been receptive to plans for a "peace palace" on Lander Road, and the Global Country of World Peace is suing the City, saying they were refused setback variances that were granted to neighboring offices.

University Circle Incorporated will hold a public meeting on March 29 at 6:30 p.m. in Judson Manor to discuss implementing the recommendations of the MLK Corridor Urban Design Study (PDF) and reconfiguring the traffic circle at MLK Drive and East 105th Street.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education received proposals from four parties interested in redeveloping the 10.9 acre Millikin School property near Severance Town Center. Kingsbury Development Corp. hopes to redevelop the building as 16 townhouses, Mosdos Ohr Hatorah school wants to relocate there, New Community Bible Fellowship would like the site for its ministry, and Ken Hadden of Heights Garden Center wants to partner with the District to build housing while training high school students.

The co-owners of Southland Shopping Center in Middleburg Heights are planning major renovations to the shopping center that include new stores for Giant Eagle and Jo-Ann Fabrics.

Cleveland Municipal School District CFO James Fortlage told Cleveland City Council that the schools are "not opposed to some form of incentives," but would not indicate if district officials supported a renewal of the existing residential tax abatement policy.

Developers have submitted plans for retail development on the three acre site of the former vegetable packing plant on Bagley Road in Berea. The City may give an adjacent 60 by 100 foot piece of property to the developer in exchange for turning the site into a "viable retail location."

Officials from Lakewood and Rocky River are discussing alternatives for improving water quality by reducing combined sewer overflows. Prices for the options range between $1.3 million and $3.1 million.

Disabled Patriots of America Inc., a Florida-based group, has sued at least 29 Greater Cleveland businesses and the city of Shaker Heights in U.S. District Court, alleging that their facilities violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. Critics charge that the "cases are driven by attorneys' fees", and a Sun Courier editorial says that they they are a "disingenuous legal tactic".

Prompted by last summer's flooding, Brecksville officials identified 40 residential and 24 industrial retention basins in the city, and will notify owners of their maintenance responsibilities. The City of Broadview Heights recently took a similar action.

Historic concrete trusses in Bay Village's Cahoon Park are crumbling and unsafe, and need to be repaired or demolished, says Mayor Sutherland. The trusses formerly supported an abandoned interurban railway line.

The principals of Ameri-Con homes appeared in court last week and entered pleas of not guilty in the lawsuit brought against them by the City of Garfield Heights for failing to remove debris and complete common areas in their Valley Ranch subdivision. The case is scheduled to resume on April 10.

By a vote of 3-2, the Maple Heights Planning Commission recommended that the City should permit billboards on all city-owned land, regardless of zoning, unless the billboards would be "viewable by residential districts."

A group of Solon residents opposed to the senior housing rezoning proposal for 32 acres along Aurora Road have formed Solon Taxpayers Against Rezoning and registered as a political action committee.

Leaders of the City of Westlake and the Westlake City Schools continue to negotiate on the price for 42 acres of undeveloped land on Bradley Road, but have been unable to reach an agreement. City officials plan to hold a public meeting about the land next month.

The Ohio House approved Governor Strickland's $7.8 billion two year transportation budget, but made several changes, including earmarking revenues from the Commercial Activities Tax on gasoline sales for highway projects, and eliminating Strickland's proposal to prioritize road projects that promote economic development. The bill now moves to the Ohio Senate. Strickland vowed to use a line-item veto on the tax provision. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that House Republicans are trying to curry favor with the transportation industry.

Solon voters will have the opportunity to vote on a senior housing rezoning on May 8. After City Council rejected their request, developers of the proposed senior housing subdivision on Aurora Road were able to collect enough petition signatures to put the issue on the ballot.

Residents near Mittal Steel continue to call for stricter emissions controls at the Cleveland steel plant. Mittal representatives again countered that the mill complies with EPA regulations.

Metropolis magazine covers the likely demolition of Marcel Breuer's Cleveland Trust Tower, which would add Cleveland to the list of cities that have torn down buildings designed by the influential modernist. "Part of the problem is that while Breuer is hailed as a master, the public has not always had such a warm relationship with his work."

U.S. Representative Ralph Regula introduced a bill that would extend the authorization for the Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway for 15 years and provide an additional $10 million in federal funding. Legislation approved in 1996 authorizes federal support until 2012, but the $8 million made available since 1996 is near the federal maximum.

Two tenants in the north side of the Cedar Center shopping center are in court this week, challenging the City of South Euclid's plans for a mixed-use redevelopment of the site. Judge John Donnelly toured the property yesterday.

Today's Plain Dealer includes a profile of Holly Harlan and her sustainable business efforts with Entrepreneurs for Sustainability, and this week's Cool Cleveland features an interview with her. "This year we're encouraging people to set BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals). We want people to grasp the idea that energy efficiency is going to save them money and make them a more competitive business. In setting a BHAG, they'll be able to inspire more innovative ways to save more energy."

Reflecting the national housing slump, new housing starts dropped dramatically in Northeast Ohio in 2006. Nationally, new starts were off by 13%, and Northeast Ohio starts decreased by about 25%. Local builders and realtors are optimistic that 2007 will see more starts.

Roldo Bartimole again denounces Cleveland's tax abatement policy, calling it unjust, "the narcotic of developers", and "a plague upon the body politic", and questions the tax abatement study conducted by CSU.

Completion of the port study being conducted by URS Corp. for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority has been pushed back from February to this summer.

Plans in northern Summit County call for rerouting a one mile stretch of the Bike & Hike Trail in Northfield Center and Sagamore Hills Townships from Brandywine Road to an off-road route. Meanwhile, the City of Akron is planning a 7,000 foot extension of the Towpath Trail that includes a floating section.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority adopted a new disclosure policy, and board members will voluntarily disclose their sources of income and real estate holdings to the Ohio Ethics Commission. A Plain Dealer editorial says they did the right thing, "even if they were all but dragged into doing it."

On Friday, the NOACA Governing Board approved an RFP for an economic impact study of the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon. The study will investigate the interchange's effects on employment and wages, tax base, and public services.

The Cleveland.com Young Professionals weblog recaps the "10,000 Little (micro) Ideas to Keep You Believing In Cleveland" event held by the Cleveland Professionals 20/30 Club (PDF) last week. Follow-up discussions will be held throughout 2007.

The Army Corps of Engineers has proposed reopening Dike 12 near Burke Lakefront Airport as a confined disposal facility for Cuyahoga River dredge material. They mistakenly included Dike 14 in their application, upsetting supporters of a nature preserve there, but the Corps reassured them that Dike 14 is "off the table." A public meeting will be held on Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the Carnegie West Branch of the Cleveland Public Library.

American Stone said that it has formally terminated an agreement with developer Trans European Securities for the proposed 989 acre Cleveland Quarries mixed-use development and resort in South Amherst. Despite claims that "heavy hitters" were behind the project, Trans European was unable to obtain funding to purchase the property, and the development agreement expired nearly a year ago. Lorain County officials remain optimistic that the site will be developed.

NOACA staff will present plans for their study of the I-90 interchange proposal to the NOACA Governing Board for approval or modification this month. Traffic engineering consultants for the City of Avon say that traffic projections predict levels of service of D, E, and F by 2030 if the Nagel Road interchange is not built, and a level of service C if it is constructed.

Architect Christopher Diehl will be the new director of Kent State University's Urban Design Collaborative. He will begin work on May 1. In addition, Dean Steven Fong announced that the school's entire master's degree program in architecture will relocate to Cleveland by March 2009.

A group of Cleveland and Lakewood stakeholders have begun discussing the possibility of joint developments along the West 117th Street corridor. Kent State's Urban Design Center is helping to prepare a conceptual plan. Meanwhile, the fate of the former Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist on West 117th Street is again in question, because the option on the historic building held by Marous Brothers Construction will expire by the end of the month. Cleveland officials are meeting with Marous.

Construction of phase one of the long-delayed Kamm's Corners streetscape revitalization is scheduled to begin in April and end in September. The entire project should be completed by November 2008. The improvements will include burying power lines, new light poles and fixtures, replacing sidewalks and curbs, and new plantings.

Several state officials have raised questions about whether the buildings at Steelyard Commons are eligible for tax abatements. "The exemption only applies to the land and the existing buildings on the property, not to new buildings on the property. There are exceptions that apply to new buildings," explained an Ohio EPA attorney.

The Cities of Brooklyn and Westlake are not expected to approve the water main maintenance and no poaching agreements offered by the City of Cleveland.

Three cities may work together to upgrade traffic signals along an 11 mile stretch of Pearl Road. Middleburg Heights and Strongsville have approved the project, but Parma Heights is worried about funding its $42,000 portion of the project. 80% of the $1.9 million project was funded by federal CMAQ dollars.

North Royalton Mayor Cathy Luks says that plans for the Town Center District are "very promising". Developer The Coral Company has entered phase two of the project, which includes property acquisition and site planning.

The City of Garfield Heights' lawsuit against Ameri-Con Homes went to trial earlier this week. Company officials failed to appear at an pretrial hearing last month.

Bipartisan bills that call for over $20 billion to implement the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy were introduced in both houses of Congress yesterday. The bills are virtually identical to legislation introduced last year. Senators Carl Levin and George Voinovich introduced S. 791, and Representatives Vern Ehlers and Rahm Emanuel introduced H.R. 1350.

Broadview Heights City Council turned down a proposed settlement that would have put a rezoning issue for a 49.5 acre site at the northwest corner of I-77 and Route 82 on the May ballot. The property is currently zoned for offices, but property owners want to build big box retail on the site. The case is scheduled to go to trial on June 18.

The Plain Dealer provides more details about the proposed arts districts in Lakewood that will be the subject of a forum on Tuesday evening.

The State of Ohio will begin offering 30-year, fixed-rate refinancing deals to people who are unable to afford their current mortgages. The program aimed at reducing foreclosures will be administered by the newly-created Foreclosure Prevention Task Force. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the efforts are desperately needed.

At a land use law conference yesterday, speakers said that Greater Cleveland's tax structure and zoning policies turn the development process into an obstacle course.

Plain Dealer columnist Kevin O'Brien asserts that NOACA should allow construction of the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon, because a refusal would impinge on the rights of individuals to choose where they will live. If the interchange is rejected, "sprawl will continue along whatever turns out to be the path of least resistance, because sprawl offers choices that make people happy."

A Plain Dealer editorial says that Frank Jackson's plan to delay construction of the planned Collinwood Recreation Center and consider new locations looks like old-school politics.

At a recent meeting, Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan said that the Whiskey Island "marina is not going to be buried in. The mayor has already signed off on it. We're all done with that. The issue is over with." Activist Ed Hauser remains cautious. "I won't truly believe it until it's in writing and the Cleveland Metroparks takes ownership and operation of the property."

Cleveland officials acknowledged that there are errors in their initial ranking of banks. They will meet with bank executives over the next several weeks to discuss the rankings, and Cleveland City Council may revise the community reinvestment law. A Plain Dealer editorial calls the rankings stale, poorly designed, and inconsistent.

The High-Tech Sector in Northeast Ohio (PDF), a baseline report prepared for NorTech by Cleveland State's Center for Economic Development, found that between 2000 and 2005, high-tech employment in the 21 county region fell by 23,735 jobs, a 12.1% loss. At the same time, productivity increased by 7.5%. NorTech plans to have the report updated annually.

(Update: An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the region must "continue to embrace a high-tech economy.")

WCPN interviewed ODOT Director James Beasley (MP3) yesterday, which was his first day in his new position. The interview begins 3:52 into the podcast.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners created an Office of Sustainability "to review the environmental impact of current operations and coordinate 'green' development across the entire region." Joyce Burke-Jones will serve as the County's sustainability officer.

Philadelphia 2007: Prospects and Challenges, a new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts, compares Philadelphia's strengths and weaknesses with those of six other American cities, including Cleveland.

(via Brewed Fresh Daily)

Each year, thousands of seniors move from Florida to Ohio, most because they want to live near their families. Many of them have disabilities or other heath concerns. "A typical scenario sees retirees begin as part-time Florida residents - snowbirds - in their 60s and full-time Floridians in their 70s. Then, in their 80s, they return to be near family." This morning's installment of The Sound of Ideas on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of the trend.

North Ridgeville has become one of the fastest growing cities in Northeast Ohio. 2,741 houses were built in the City between 2000 and 2006, the most in the region. City officials say 400 homes could be built this year, with 4,000 more expected in the next 10 years.

A Plain Dealer editorial urges Cleveland City Council to extend the residential tax abatement program "without weakening it in any way."

Cleveland Councilwoman Nina Turner asked the FBI to investigate the defunct Amistad Development Corporation in order to account for $200,000 that had been given to the organization.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners created the Cuyahoga Innovation Zones program, based on a recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Economic Development Task Force. The program is intended to encourage economic innovation through building on the region's institutional and industrial strengths. Applications for the pilot program are due on March 30, 2007.

In his second State of the City address, Frank Jackson mentioned Cleveland's Citywide Plan, the City's economic development efforts, the capital plan, development projects, regionalism, lakefront planning and the fate of Burke Lakefront Airport, tax abatement, and the convention center. He also announced that the City will embark on a developing a citywide Wi-Fi network, and intends to invite companies to bid on the project. A Plain Dealer editorial declared that "Jackson so far has proved savvy about pushing the envelope without picking fights." The speech is available online as video, audio (MP3, 11.6 MB), and text (PDF).

The student leadership program Look Up To Cleveland is seeking planning, urban design, and community development experts to serve as technical advisors (MS Word) to student teams from high schools across Cuyahoga County. If you would like to volunteer, please fill out the interest form (MS Word).

By a vote of 4-3, Solon City Council rejected a request to rezone a site on Aurora Road near Hawthorne Valley Country Club from a residential classification with a one acre minimum lot size to senior housing. TransCon Builders wants to build 116 homes on the 32 acre site, and is circulating petitions to place the rezoning on the May ballot.

The 13 Garfield Heights landowners who are involved in eminent domain cases appear to be challenging the buyout figures offered by the developer, not the City's eminent domain power. The properties are on the site of the planned Bridgeview Crossing (PDFs) shopping center, and much of the neighborhood has already been demolished.

Indexco Properties will seek approval from the Independence Planning Commission to build a 12 house subdivision off of East Ash Road. The homes would be built (PDF) on lots ranging from 0.6 acres to 1.6 acres.

The city councils of Westlake and Cleveland passed resolutions in support of federal funding for a West Shore corridor alternatives analysis. The study would examine the proposed commuter rail line between Cleveland and Lorain and other potential transportation improvements.

Four developers have expressed an interest in redeveloping the South Euclid side of Cedar Center. The City should take ownership of the properties around March 12, and officials expect to choose a firm in two or three weeks.

A new report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says that there were 754,000 homeless people in the country in 2005. The one-night survey counted 2,208 homeless people (PDF) in Cuyahoga County, but advocates for the homeless feel that the actual number is higher.

Demolition of buildings in the Flats east bank may begin soon. A Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge dismissed a taxpayer's lawsuit against the Port Authority, and the City of Cleveland issued demolition permits for eight east bank buildings owned by developer Scott Wolstein.

(Update: workers have begun razing the buildings.)

A Plain Dealer editorial backs University Circle Incorporated's campaigns to transform the neighborhood, which include the Bring Back Euclid Avenue initiative and plans to build 1,000 new homes in the next five years.

A series half-day Best Local Land Use Workshops will be held around Greater Cleveland this month. The first training session will be held in Kirtland on March 8. Later workshops will be in Valley View on March 14 and in Medina on March 29. Registration is free, but space is limited.

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This is an archive of entries from March 2007. See the main index for recent content.

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