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June 2007 Archives

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Bruce Katz and Jennifer Vey of the Brookings Institution offer a "practical idea for Ohio: Strive to attract at least 2 percent of each metropolitan area's population to live in traditional downtowns."

A Wall Street Journal exploration of the recent growth of urban parks in the United States includes a mention of the increase of parkland in Cleveland.

After being used for search and rescue training, the former Memphis School in Old Brooklyn is being demolished. The City of Cleveland will maintain the 2.4 acre site as greenspace while officials consider plans for its redevelopment.

Construction of the new West 117th Street rapid station is nearing completion, and the main entrance and parking lot reopened earlier this week. The new station will be called Highland Square at West 117th Street, and a reopening ceremony is scheduled for mid-September.

Several new residential subdivisions have been proposed for Cuyahoga County communities. Chagrin River Ridge, a 10 home development, was proposed for a 27.7 acre site off of Chagrin Road in Moreland Hills. Holbrook Estates is a proposed 14 home subdivision on 17 acres along Holbrook Road in Bentleyville. In Bedford Heights, the proposed Benedict Run subdivision would consist of 24 homes on six acres near Columbus Road.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District committed $3 million for the construction of the planned Watershed Stewardship Center at the Cleveland Metroparks West Creek Reservation in Parma. Meanwhile, the City of Independence purchased the former Seaman's Furniture Warehouse at the confluence of West Creek and the Cuyahoga River. The structures on the 10 acre property will be demolished and the site will be used for parkland, open space, riparian restoration, and flood control.

WKSU provides more details about the Chagrin Foundation for Arts & Culture and their plans to create an arts district in Chagrin Falls.

While the process has been slow, Brook Park officials continue to seek approval of the City's plans to establish railroad quiet zones.

Demolition of structures has resumed at the former Taylor Chair site in Bedford. It should be completed within the next 30 days.

This morning, the Cleveland City Planning Commission is again discussing Cuyahoga County's request to demolish the Cleveland Trust Tower. A Plain Dealer editorial once again urges the Planning Commission to approve the demolition, and Nathan C. Hoyt of Davis Brody Bond explains the architecture firm's proposal for reusing the tower.

(Update: the Planning Commission approved the demolition by a vote of 5-2, and Frank Jackson said they made the right decision. The Planning Commission did not authorize the demolition of the adjacent 1010 Euclid building.)

The US Census Bureau's annual subcounty population estimates show that the City of Cleveland continues to rapidly lose population. The estimates say that between 2000 and 2006, the city lost 33,15 people, 6.9% of its population. Between July 2005 and July 2006, the city lost 6,247 people, 1.4% of its population. Most Great Lakes cities, including Akron, also lost population. Cleveland.com and Ohio.com both offer forms for querying the estimates.

Yesterday, the Ohio House and Senate agreed on revisions to Senate Bill 7, which will permit the use of eminent domain only when 70% of the targeted properties are blighted. The proposed constitutional amendment that would have nullified local eminent domain laws will not appear on the November ballot, because it did not obtain the required three-fifths majority in the House.

(via Build on This)

Some residents of the Stonebridge apartments on the Flats west bank are opposed to the adult entertainment district proposed for a section of the Flats east bank. They say that it is hurting the neighborhood's image.

The Plain Dealer explored how the Merchandise Mart concept operates in Chicago, and asked if the proposed medical mart could work in Cleveland. Also, Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc.'s presentation about the proposed downtown Cleveland development is available online.

In this week's Cool Cleveland, Mansfield B. Frazier shares his thoughts about regionalism, the role of minorities, and the recent Presidents' Council report. "The question Blacks are asking is: Can regionalism be used to correct past injustices and imbalances in political power, or – similar to Louisville, KY where half of the Black elected officials lost their jobs due to government consolidation – will we again (as per usual) get the short end of the stick?"

The Aurora Master Plan Review Commission is seeking public input on the plan. The panel is scheduled to receive a first draft of the plan at their July 24 meeting.

The Ohio House passed House Bill 5, which would establish statewide blight standards for the exercise of eminent domain by local governments. The definitions are not as stringent as those called for by a similar Ohio Senate bill. The two bills will likely be reconciled in a conference committee, and an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that "House leaders should hold firm" and should not split the difference between the two bills. The House has not voted on the eminent domain constitutional amendment issue that was approved by the Senate.

(Update: Governor Strickland indicated that he would consider vetoing the bill because it is "hugely limiting" to cities.)

The State of Ohio offered a $16 million financial incentive package to Continental Airlines to attract a potential $50 million expansion of their Cleveland Hopkins hub.

A forum titled "Partnering to Preserve Farmland in Hiram Township with Transfer of Development Rights" will be held tomorrow at the Hiram College Kennedy Center Ballroom from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson supports the proposed sales tax increase to attract the proposed medical mart and build a corresponding new convention center, while a Plain Dealer editorial says that local leaders must persuade the public of the idea's value. This morning's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN was devoted to a debate about the proposal.

(Update: WCPN distilled the discussion into a short piece.)

Steven Litt of the Plain Dealer describes several catalytic redevelopment efforts underway in Cleveland's Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. "After decades of urban husbandry in housing and retail, the district is about to gain critical mass."

PCB contamination was discovered at the former Trinity Building site on Detroit Avenue, a brownfield property that is now in the City of Cleveland's industrial land bank. The situation may force City officials to change their plans for redeveloping the site.

Rich Cochran of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy said that Northeast Ohio needs to preserve an additional 200,000 acres of parks and greenspace, and called urban sprawl the biggest threat to the region and its quality of life.

Bentleyville officials will hold a public meeting where residents can share their thoughts about the Village's proposed master plan. It will be held on June 26 at 7:00 p.m. in Village Hall.

While Cuyahoga County has a legal opinion that states Cleveland's charter gives the County the right to overrule the Cleveland City Planning Commission and demolish the Cleveland Trust Tower, Commissioner Hagan said they "will not move ahead unless the mayor and council president assures us that under the charter we can move ahead without acquiescence of the planning commission." Plain Dealer architecture critic Steven Litt feels that bypassing the Planning Commission would place it at a disadvantage in the future.

At the June 8 Planning Commission meeting, former Cleveland Planning Director Hunter Morrison presented his Seven Decision-making Principles for Major Redevelopment Projects.

Yesterday, the US EPA proposed tightening ground-level ozone standards. Current standards permit up to 84 parts per billion of ozone, and the new proposal would lower that to 70 to 75 parts per billion. The local implications of the proposed change are not yet known. Meanwhile, the Ohio EPA recently submitted an interim plan to the US EPA for bringing Greater Cleveland into attainment with the current standards, and will hold a public hearing at their Northeast District Office on July 24.

(Update: the Akron Beacon Journal has more information about potential local impacts of the proposal.)

Governor Strickland says he will direct the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to develop a new coastal management policy. The revised policy will be friendlier to lakefront landowners who want property lines shifted from the high water mark to the low water mark.

The Village of Brooklyn Heights is soliciting bids for the construction of the Eagle Glen Connector Bridge and Hiking Trail over West Creek. It will connect the Village Park to Seven Hills and eventually with the Towpath Trail.

As part of wetlands remediation for the Carrington Court senior housing development in Solon, Gross Builders and the City reached an agreement that calls for the company to pay $100,000 for an environmental easement on 20.9 acres in the City's blue heron rookery. The agreement requires the approval of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The construction of the Shoppes of Solon North (PDF) at Miles and Brainard Road has led to disagreements between the developer and neighbors of the shopping center.

Homeowners in the Maple Heights portion of the Valley Ranch subdivision are also unhappy about work left unfinished by Ameri-Con Homes.

Brecksville City Council tabled the water main maintenance and no poaching agreement offered by the City of Cleveland, until they can determine if the VA Center consolidation would be covered by the agreement.

Berea City Council approved the purchase of the former Serpentini Chevrolet property on Front Street for the construction of a new Berea Municipal Court building. Mayor Biddlecombe expects that construction of the 25,000 square foot building will begin in the fall.

Three of the 13 trustees of the Clark-Metro Development Corporation resigned over a dispute about the date of the organization's annual meeting, and at the meeting, five people were named to the board in an uncontested election.

The newly formed Chagrin Foundation for Arts & Culture announced plans to establish an arts and entertainment district in downtown Chagrin Falls. They established a partnership with the Chautauqua Institution of New York, and proposed renovating the historic Township Hall as the centerpiece of the five-block district.

(Update: WCPN offers more details.)

RealtyTrac released foreclosure figures by ZIP code for a three month period ending June 15, and several Cuyahoga County areas were at or near the top of the list. The 44105 ZIP code (the Slavic Village area) had the highest number of foreclosure filings in the nation, 44112 (East Cleveland/Euclid-Green) was ranked 11th, 44108 (Glenville/Forest Hills) was ranked 20th, and 44120 (Buckeye-Shaker/Mt. Pleasant/Shaker Heights) was ranked 21st. ACORN published a series of reports titled "Home Insecurity" that present the data in more detail.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners are creating a $13 million commercial redevelopment loan fund to promote the redevelopment of vacant commercial buildings. The program will be targeted at development in the City of Cleveland and its inner-ring suburbs.

(Update: a Department of Development press release presents more information.)

The Ohio Lake Erie Commission awarded a $10,000 grant to Cleveland State University to study the nutrient structure of the Cuyahoga River, and a $9,999 grant to the Cuyahoga County Soil and Water Conservation District to establish riparian buffers on residential properties in the Rocky River watershed.

Bedford officials surveyed residents to gather input for an update of the City's master plan.

Cottage Living magazine named Ohio City as one of their Top 10 Cottage Communities for 2007, calling it a "comeback community".

The Presidents' Council, a group of local African American business leaders, will unveil "Regionalism: Growing Together to Expand Opportunity to All" this evening. The report offers recommendations for how regional cooperation can benefit the poor and minorities. Public forums will be held to gather input on the suggestions, and Cleveland officials will create a plan based on the study within 60 to 90 days.

(Update: The Plain Dealer and WCPN have more information about the report.)

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners presented a plan to raise the sales tax by a quarter percent to support a new convention center that would accompany the proposed medical mart. The increase to 7.75% would raise a projected additional $42 million per year, of which $20 million would be used to pay for the convention center. Voter approval is not needed for the tax increase, but public hearings are required, and they will be held on July 19 and July 26.

(Update: The Plain Dealer examined the reactions of suburban leaders, and WKSU also reported on the proposal.)

EcoCity Cleveland will merge with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and together will create the new Center for Regional Sustainability. The merger will begin next month, and should be completed in a year.

(Update: David Beach calls the merger "a fantastic opportunity to align the resources of two strong and respected organizations.")

On June 27, the City Club will host a panel discussion about plans to bring the Towpath Trail to downtown Cleveland. It will be held at the CanalWay Center in the Cleveland Metroparks Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation.

In the first article in a series, the Free Times looks at the nationwide foreclosure crisis and its detrimental impacts on Slavic Village, which is "perhaps the epicenter of a nationwide foreclosure epidemic."

In the second installment of their "A Region Uniting?" series, the Plain Dealer looked at the potential for merging suburban communities in Greater Cleveland. They used Cleveland Heights and University Heights as an example, and compared the demographics of their proposed mergers with existing cities.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission terminated Advanced Hydrosolutions' application for a hydroelectric project in the Gorge Metro Park because the company was unable to gain access to the park. Company President David Sinclair says they are reviewing the decision and are still pursuing the project.

The two members of the Ohio Senate who opposed the continuation of the E-Check program inserted an amendment into the state budget bill that "forces the governor to issue an executive order if he feels E-Check is necessary, but requires him to consider less-intrusive and less-costly alternatives to complying with the Federal Clean Air Act."

By a vote of 4-2, the Cleveland City Planning Commission refused to approve a demolition permit for the Cleveland Trust Tower. Today's New York Times includes an overview of the controversy surrounding the downtown skyscraper.

Preservation Ohio launched the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Resource Center, "a one-stop location for information on the newest financial incentive for renovation and restoration of historic buildings in Ohio." The presentation (PDF) from last month's Northeast Ohio Historic Tax Credit training seminar is also available online.

A free public screening of the Lincoln Institute documentary on Cleveland will be held at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Auditorium on June 27 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.

(Update: The Brooklyn Sun Journal has more details.)

The 50 unit Detroit-Superior Lofts condominium project proposed for the southwest corner of Detroit Avenue and West 28th Street in Ohio City has been enlarged to become a seven story building. The nonprofit A Place For Us is no longer a partner in the development.

(Update: The Plain Dealer offers more information on the withdrawal of A Place for Us from the project.)

Developer Scott Wolstein was able to reach purchase agreements with all but one property owner and end eminent domain proceedings for his Flats east bank development. The settlements call for him to pay $17 million for 11 properties, more than twice the Port Authority's appraised values. Wolstein has been unable to reach an accord with James Kassouf for a parking lot north of Front Street. The Port Authority appraised the site at $640,000, and Kassouf is asking for $3.55 million.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that Mayor Jackson's decision to create a nearby adult entertainment district "signals that Cleveland's mayor can help play the role of deal maker."

The US Census Bureau reports that the percentage of commuters driving alone has increased slightly since 2000. Half of the top ten cities in the nation for solo driving are in Ohio, with Canton at number one and Akron at number three. WKSU's Daniel Hockensmith interviewed AMATS transportation planner Jason Segedy about the report.

(Update: Another WKSU story has more details.)

Demolition of buildings at the Taylor Chair site in Bedford has halted. City leaders hope that delays in the construction of the Rysar Homes Bedford Falls condominium project are temporary.

By a vote of 7-1, Broadview Heights City Council reversed its earlier decision and placed a rezoning issue for the Ahek property on the November ballot. If approved by voters, 60% of the 57.5 acre site at the northwest corner of I-77 and Route 82 would be rezoned from office laboratory to retail.

Independence City Council is considering taking the Marycrest site on Brookside Road by eminent domain to prevent St. Maron's Church from moving to the property. The Planning Commission tabled the Church's request for a permit to build, and the Church's attorney says they will sue the City if it isn't granted.

As part of the North Royalton Town Center project, the City's downtown radio towers may be relocated to a 38 acre site on Abbey Road. The Coral Company also prepared a preliminary site plan for the development, which calls for 603,000 square feet of retail (including anchor stores of 206,100 and 102,900 square feet) and 197,000 square feet of office space.

Because the Ohio Housing Finance Agency plans to sell loans from its Opportunity Loan Refinance Program in the secondary market, it established very strict rules for applicants.

Strongsville's residential setback provision is the source of controversy among some residents, but City officials say they do not intend to change the zoning code.

RTA reports that the first two Euclid Corridor stations, one in Midtown and one in East Cleveland, will soon be complete.

On June 25, South Euclid City Council is expected to vote on a proposal to create a council of governments with Richmond Heights, University Heights, and the South Euclid-Lyndhurst Board of Education to study the feasibility of a regional recreation center. University Heights passed similar legislation on June 4, while Lyndhurst leaders reiterated that they were not interested in participating.

Demolition of the partially-constructed Cornerstone development is underway in Parma Heights. The McGill Property Group has not submitted final plans for the development of the site at Pearl Road and West 130th Street, but preliminary plans call for up to 150 residential units in single family homes and townhouses and a small amount of retail.

The Clark Metro Development Corporation on Cleveland's west side continues to be the focal point of a power struggle between Ward 14 Councilman Joe Santiago and his predecessor, Nelson Cintron Jr.

WKSU examines how the budget bills passed by the Ohio Legislature will affect the state's cities.

Westlake voters may be asked "for advisory purposes only" if the 42 acre undeveloped property on Bradley Road should be rezoned for recreational use only. The site is currently zoned residential, and the vote would advisory because the city's referendum zoning would not apply in this case. The president of the Westlake School Board says that it's an attempt to pressure them to sell the land to the City.

Construction of the new Cleveland Cavaliers practice facility in Independence is on schedule, and a grand opening is slated for the first week in August.

Steven Litt reviews the exhibit Open: New Designs for Public Space, an exhibit on the work of Foreign Office Architects, and the Uptown Launch Pad, all on display at MOCA. "The shows suggest that Cleveland -- a poor, shrinking city suffering from low self-esteem -- could become more lively and cosmopolitan if it emulates or surpasses the examples on view." He also notes that MOCA has started a new weblog.

A NOACA air quality task force approved a set of recommendations to help the region comply with federal particulate emissions standards. The recommendations include strategies for addressing pollution from mobile (PDF) and stationary (PDF) sources. NOACA's Governing Board may vote on the recommendations this fall, which would then be submitted to the Ohio EPA for inclusion in a statewide plan.

Bruce Katz's May 29 talk at the City Club about the Brookings Institution Restoring Prosperity report is available as audio (MP3, 19.4 MB) and as text.

Developer Paul Garofolo presented his plans for the proposed soccer stadium complex to Summit County Council on Monday. In addition to the retractable roof stadium, the plans call for a large retail component, a medical campus, and hotel development. He said the project could bring as much as $12 billion dollars to the county over the next 30 years.

Foreclosure filings in Ohio and the rest of the nation increased again last month. Ohio saw 13,214 foreclosure filings in May, an increase of 16% from April and of 150% from May 2006.

The Chatter column in this week's Free Times covers increased emissions from the Mittal Steel mill in Cleveland and the discussion about the proposed demolition of the Cleveland Trust Tower before the Cleveland City Planning Commission.The Planning Commission will take up the question again on Friday, and Plain Dealer architecture critic Steven Litt feels it's likely that the City will approve the demolition.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority hired John Martin Associates to conduct a 12 week, $75,000 study on potential container cargo traffic and the amount of land and investment it would require.

As part of the negotiations to end eminent domain proceedings for the Flats east bank development, Mayor Jackson proposed the creation of an adult entertainment district in the Flats that would house up to three strip clubs. Developer Scott Wolstein has reached "agreements in principle" with three of the four property owners in the suspended eminent domain trial.

The Cuyahoga County Community Mental Health Board plans to build a $10-16 million headquarters building on Euclid Avenue in Midtown. The agency intends to move from their rented space on West 25th Street to the new 45,000 square foot building by fall 2008.

The State of Poverty in Ohio 2007 (PDF), a new report from the Center for Community Solutions, says that as the national economy was improving, poverty and job losses went up in Ohio.

The repaired Euclid Beach Park Gateway Arch was rededicated this morning.

Orange, Parma Heights, and University Heights are the only suburbs that have adopted the water main maintenance and no poaching agreement offered by the City of Cleveland, though 17 other municipalities have passed or introduced authorizing legislation.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is soliciting public input on the environmental assessment for proposed modifications to the Virginia Kendall Dam in northern Summit County. The deadline for feedback is June 30.

The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt interviewed architects Curt Fentress, Farshid Moussavi, and Winy Maas, each of whom is designing a major construction project for a University Circle institution.

A Plain Dealer editorial encourages the Strickland administration to follow the advice of the recent Brookings Institution report, and concludes, "The state must not forget its enormous role in Cleveland's economy."

The City of Cleveland is planning renovations to historic League Park in Hough that include restoring the ballfield, building a replica of the outfield wall, and renovating the ticket house, a tunnel, and the original brick wall. The project is expected to cost $8.5 million, of which the City will supply $5 million. Officials hope to raise the rest of the money through private donations.

The Cleveland City Planning Commission decided on Friday that they need more details before they decide on Cuyahoga County's request to demolish the Cleveland Trust Tower.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that the eminent domain bills passed by the Ohio Senate "essentially sway the balance so far toward the property owner that cities would have hardly any ability to influence their destinies," and urges the Ohio House to "bring reason to a realm too often ruled by emotion."

Judge Corrigan recessed the Flats east bank eminent domain trial yesterday after hearing testimony that at least one property owner was close to reaching an agreement with the Port Authority. Corrigan told a Port Authority official, "If I were you, I would settle this case just as fast as I can."

Organizers of the Cleveland Design Competition announced their winners last evening. The competition attracted 70 entries from nine countries, all offering design proposals for the Irishtown Bend area on the Cuyahoga River's west bank. First place went to a team led by Nicholas Sully of Vancouver for a proposal that called for creating terraced gardens and walkways. The entries will be exhibited at the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative from June 21 to July 30.

(Update: a gallery of the winning submissions is now online.)

Areas of Cuyahoga and Lakes Counties were awarded $543,000 by the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct flood damage reduction studies.

(Update: The Plain Dealer has more details.)

The Cleveland Economic Development Department hired Virginia Carlson as deputy director for research, outreach, and marketing.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial concludes that Summit County Council "must have a clear understanding of the net benefit before giving their approval" to a sin tax issue to support the proposed soccer stadium complex.

Yesterday, the US EPA and Environment Canada released the 2007 State of the Great Lakes Highlights Report at the International Joint Commission Great Lakes Biennial Meeting and Conference in Chicago. It offers good and bad news about the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes.

Shaker Heights City Council is discussing the water main maintenance and no poaching agreement offered by the City of Cleveland. Solon leaders are also examining the proposal, which one City Council member says is "a very onerous agreement."

The City of Seven Hills approved spending $75,000 and opening bids for the construction of a mile-long multipurpose trail that will eventually link to the West Creek Greenway. Construction of the $800,000 trail should be completed this summer. Meanwhile, Broadview Heights officials are applying for grants that would permit them to examine the feasibility of building trails.

The Independence Planning Commission recommended authorizing the creation of a senior housing district behind Concordia Lutheran Church, if the proposal is approved by voters. The land is currently owned by the church, and the proposal also requires the approval of church members.

At a public meeting last week, Shaker Heights residents offered their opinions about potential improvements to the rapid transit station at Van Aken Boulevard and Lee Road. The feedback will be incorporated into a plan for transit-oriented development around the station. The final meeting in the series will be held in July.

Construction of the first phase of the Kamm's Corners streetscape improvement project will start on June 18. The work is scheduled to conclude in November, with phase two beginning next spring.

Several former residents donated two undeveloped properties near Green Road to the City of South Euclid. City Council plans to place the properties in a land back.

Cabela's officials want to build at I-71 and Route 303 in Brunswick, calling it the company's "preferred site". If the 130,000 to 150,000 square foot store opens in 2009, Brunswick leaders expect it would draw at least three million visitors per year and stimulate additional nearby retail, restaurant, and hotel construction.

Summit County Council unanimously approved a tax increment financing agreement with a developer planning to build a road as part of a senior housing complex in Macedonia. City Council has not voted on the proposal.

St. Maron's Catholic Church's proposed move from downtown Cleveland to Independence is opposed by neighbors of the Independence site. St. Maron's wants to build a church, a youth activity center, and a social center at the 22 acre former Marycrest site on Brookside Road. Residents are concerned about possible flooding and traffic congestion.

By a vote of 2-1, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners decided to rescind $200,000 in funding for the Northeast Ohio Sourcing Office. The organization was recently awarded $335,000 by the Fund for Our Economic Future.

In what may mark the start of a major cutbacks to Cleveland's school construction project, district CEO Eugene Sanders announced that construction plans for three elementary schools have been put on hold.

The City of Cleveland and the Wendy Park Foundation are close to an agreement that would authorize repairs of the pier to the historic Whiskey Island Coast Guard station. The deteriorating station remains in need of repair.

Berea City Council is discussing legislation to fund the purchase of the former Serpentini Chevrolet property on Front Street and the construction of a new courthouse on the site. They hope to break ground late this year.

In anticipation of the National Solar Energy Conference that will be held in Cleveland next month, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will install a small wind turbine at its Westerly Wastewater Treatment Plant near Edgewater Park.

Mittal Steel donated $30,000 and close to an acre of land along the west bank of the Cuyahoga River for the development of green bulkheads. The land will also be used for the extension of the Towpath Trail through Cleveland.

This morning's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of Cleveland Magazine's annual rating of Greater Cleveland suburbs. The guests were magazine Editor Steve Gleydura and Managing Editor Jim Vickers.

The Cleveland Catholic Diocese may close about 20% of its parishes, not the 10% initially reported. Up to 48 churches could be closed, with up to 25 of them in Cleveland. The Plain Dealer explored the potential impacts on the Lakewood cluster, and prepared maps showing the cluster boundaries and population change by parish.

The nonprofit Fast Track Cycling is working to build a velodrome somewhere in Cuyahoga County, and is expected to select a site soon. The group hopes to raise $9-$14 million for a spring 2009 opening.

Yesterday, a resolution for a sin tax to support the proposed Summit County soccer stadium complex was introduced in Summit County Council. The 35-year tax on cigarettes, wine, and beer would be used to raise $100 million for the development of the 400 acre site in Macedonia and Northfield Center Township. The proposed tax will appear on the November ballot if it's approved by August 23.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial calls Ohio E-Check program the best available alternative for addressing air quality problems and that "killing the program would harm the air quality of Northeast Ohio, diminishing the quality of life of all residents."

Additional incentives beyond the approved $1.5 million sales tax rebate may be necessary to lure Bass Pro Shops to Akron. Other communities that have attracted stores offered infrastructure improvements, increased tax breaks, and site preparation work as incentives.

The Plain Dealer's Becky Gaylord reports that the regional economic revenue study recently funded by the the Fund for Our Economic Future will be conducted by Myron Orfield and researchers at Cleveland State University and Lorain County Community College. They will analyze property tax sharing models and identify potential legislative changes.

The latest County Business Patterns release from the US Census Bureau says that the number of businesses in the US grew by 6% between 2000 and 2005, but that Cuyahoga County lost 3.4% of its businesses over the same period. Some local economic development experts assert that the report would look rosier if it included more recent data. Cleveland.com illustrates the numbers with an infographic and an interactive map.

On Friday, the Cleveland City Planning Commission heard from architects who advocated an adaptive reuse of the Cleveland Trust Tower. On June 8, the Planning Commission will hear a presentation on the tower from Cuyahoga County officials and will take public comment.

The Ohio Senate passed two bills that would limit the use of eminent domain. One establishes a statewide definition of blight. The Ohio House has also taken up the issue, and is expected to vote on it next week, but there are significant differences between the bills. The other bill was for a proposed constitutional amendment that would appear on the November ballot and would eliminate home rule eminent domain provisions. Northeast Ohio officials oppose both measures.

If the Cleveland City Planning Commission refuses to grant a demolition permit for the Cleveland Trust Tower, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners may be able to demolish it under a clause in Cleveland's charter that gives them the power to overrule the Planning Commission.

Also, an architecture competition titled "What Would you do with the Breuer Building?" (PDF) is being held as part of this year's Ingenuity Festival.

The Independence Homeowners Association, formed last year, continues to meet and advocate for quality of life issues. Their next meeting will be on September 26.

Developer Dennis Oransky purchased three acres on Maplepark Drive in Maple Heights, and hopes to build single or multi-family housing on the site.

A Garfield Heights Municipal Court judge ordered Sandy Krulak and Jeff Simler of Ameri-Con Homes to plant grass, install fencing around two unfinished foundations, and form a homeowners association at their unfinished Valley Ranch subdivision by June 30.

Macedonia City Council is considering a proposed tax increment financing package for public improvements in a new senior housing complex.

Chester residents met last week to discuss a proposal for creating a pedestrian-friendly mixed-use town center.

Brian Cummins, the only Cleveland councilperson to vote against the residential tax abatement extension, says that the ordinance does not do enough to promote green building. "The bottom line is that we could have had a much stronger energy-efficiency component much quicker."

The State Role in Guiding Land Use Change in the Ohio Lake Erie Basin, a new report, identified "which land planning and management policies and mechanisms have been used to effectively shape land development processes to achieve a more sustainable or balanced outcome, and what policy and program changes and incentives would likely prove most effective in changing land development and conservation patterns".

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