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November 2007 Archives

Increasing suburban development in the Furnace Run watershed in Cuyahoga and Summit Counties has created additional runoff, which is causing more erosion and sedimentation downstream, according to a report from the Ohio EPA (PDF).

This year's Emerging Cleveland tours will be held on December 26 and 27. The tours "highlight the best of what's happening in the City -- from new development to off-the-beaten track gems."

(via GreenCityBlueLake)

The Bentleyville Planning and Zoning Commission tabled its review of the preliminary plat of the Wharton Woods subdivision on Holbrook Road. A special meeting will be held on December 12 to finish the review.

Ohio State University's Center for Farmland Policy Innovation developed a new model to help identify areas with the highest need for farmland protection programming. The model examined all Ohio counties, including urbanized areas traditionally overlooked by agricultural preservationists. It identified 15 counties, including Cuyahoga County, as having relatively high needs for action.

A new report (PDF) prepared for the U.S. Conference of Mayors enumerates the negative effects of the foreclosure crisis on cities' gross metropolitan products. The report's authors say that 2008 should be "no worse than 2007" for Cleveland. Meanwhile, figures from RealtyTrac show that there were 94% more foreclosure filings in Ohio in October 2007 than in October 2006.

Climate Change and Great Lakes Water Resources (PDF), a new report from the National Wildlife Federation, looks at threats to the Great Lakes from global warming and water diversion, and concludes that states need to approve the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.

(Update: a Plain Dealer editorial urges Ohio legislators to approve the compact.)

The City of Cleveland will withdraw millions of dollars in deposits from JP Morgan Chase, because the bank scored poorly on the City's review of community reinvestment practices. A Plain Dealer editorial says that Cleveland must continue to monitor banks and that City Council should also update the review process.

Neighborhood Progress Inc. is working with community development corporations in six Cleveland neighborhoods to improve areas in proximity to major new investments and create model blocks.

RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese appeared on Sunday's Behind the Lines on WKYC to discuss the Euclid Corridor Project and other transit issues.

The new Cedar-Lee parking garage in Cleveland Heights opened earlier this month. Its construction is in conjunction with the mixed-use The Terraces development.

Developers of the Ahek and LaPine properties at I-77 and Route 82 hope to have a development proposal ready early next year. The 40 acre site was recently rezoned by Broadview Heights voters.

Officials with Cabela's and the City of Brunswick are negotiating details about the company's proposed 125,000-150,000 square foot store at Center Road and I-71.

Chris Warren, the City of Cleveland's Chief of Regional Development, will speak at the City Club on December 4 about the Jackson administration's platform for development.

Urban planning consultant Kyle Ezell says that Ohioans need to learn how to live in cities for urban residential developments to succeed.

The City of Cleveland Heights will purchase a two-family house on East Derbyshire Road, renovate it, and sell it as condominiums. The work is part of the East Derbyshire Road Rehabilitation Project.

When the section of the Euclid Corridor between East 17th and East 55th Streets opens on Monday, drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and transit users will have to learn new traffic patterns.

(Update: a Plain Dealer graphic illustrates the changes.)

Yesterday, WCPN reported on the proposed West Shore Corridor commuter rail project, and then dedicated its Sound of Ideas program to a discussion of the idea.

IBC Solar AG, Germany's oldest solar power company, will establish its U.S. headquarters in Cleveland. The company also hopes to manufacture solar equipment in Cleveland if Ohio adopts a renewable portfolio standard.

The Plain Dealer looked at the popularity of neighborhood footpaths in older Cleveland suburbs.

The Saint Luke's Foundation awarded a $1 million grant to ParkWorks to create walking trails, an outdoor reading garden, public-art displays, and performance areas in Cleveland's Buckeye neighborhood. The former hospital building will be at the heart of a five-acre learning campus.

In a three-part series, the News-Herald examined the state of the Greater Cleveland housing market.

WKYC's Tom Beres interviewed attorney Fred Nance about his negotiations with Merchandise Mart Properties on the planned Cleveland Medical Mart. Nance is Cuyahoga County's chief negotiator in the talks.

The Ohio Department of Development awarded $30 million in historic tax credits to five downtown Cleveland renovation projects. The largest credit, valued at $16.4 million, went to the 668 Euclid building.

(Update: a Plain Dealer editorial is very positive about the program.)

The Solon planning department is preparing a new mixed-use zoning classification for the mixed-use developments proposed by the Coral Co. and Stark Enterprises. Planning Director Rob Frankland says that a 2008 start date for construction is "ambitious but not impossible."

City Council selected a firm to prepare an analysis of the developments' impacts on the City's sanitary sewers, and traffic engineering consultants reported that the Coral Co. plan will have have fewer traffic impacts than the Stark proposal. City Council and the Planning Commission will discuss the proposals at a November 29 meeting.

Developers in Brooklyn Heights will soon begin the petition process for getting a liquor referendum on the March ballot. The issue is seen as a key component of the proposed retail development at Granger Road and Tuxedo Avenue.

The City of Parma is working to redevelop vacant retail properties, including the planned construction of a new Giant Eagle on the site of former Tops and Circuit City stores on Day Drive.

The Maple Heights City Schools asked the state for $55.6 million for a school construction project. The funds require a match from the district. If approved, it will be the largest construction project ever in Maple Heights.

Shaker Heights officials say that the main role the City can play in the foreclosure crisis is to protect neighborhoods from the effects of foreclosure.

While voters in Berea and Brook Park approved the creation of the Tri-City Joint Recreation District, some councilmen in the two cities remain vocally opposed to a tax to support the Tri-City Senior Center.

Last week, CMHA celebrated the opening of 28 subsidized senior housing units at Riverside Park Estates in Bellaire-Puritas.

About 50 people attended a Master Plan Steering Committee meeting in Chester. The Committee hopes to make the town center area more pedestrian and bike-friendly.

The South Euclid-Lyndhurst Board of Education decided to not join the Hillcrest Heights Area Recreation Council "at this time", instead choosing to concentrate on passing an operating levy in March.

TransCon Builders would like the City of Solon to create a new senior housing zoning classification for its proposed development adjacent to Hawthorne Valley Country Club.

The Center for Global Development compiled government and industry statistics at CARMA, and determined that Ohio is the fifth-worst state for carbon emissions from power plants. Plants in Ohio released 133 million tons of CO2 in 2000. This afternoon, five Midwest governors the premier of Manitoba signed an accord to limit carbon emissions, reduce energy consumption, and encourage renewable energy. Governor Strickland also signed on as an observer.

(Update: The Plain Dealer presents more details about the pact.)

Data released yesterday by RealtyTrac says that the Cleveland metropolitan area experienced the nation's seventh-highest foreclosure rate during the third quarter of 2007. Meanwhile, a Plain Dealer editorial says that Governor Strickland's proposed foreclosure prevention plan is "moderate and responsible" and that the "state must act to slow this foreclosure crisis, which threatens to push Ohio's economy into a downward spiral."

Because Boston Heights voters rejected the retail development proposal for the site of the former Boston Hills County Club, the developer's $10 million lawsuit against the Village will continue. He says that the issue left the property without an economically viable use.

Earlier today, Mayor Jackson proposed new standards for housing construction and renovation. In order to obtain financial assistance from the City, builders and contractors would have to meet national green building standards. Some builders worry that it would raise their costs. If Cleveland City Council adopts the proposal, the new rules would start in 2009.

(Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says the proposal "isn't a bad idea. But it has to be done carefully.")

At a public forum in Midtown yesterday, Euclid Avenue business owners and patrons expressed their concerns and frustrations about Euclid Corridor Project construction. The segment from East 17th Street to East 55th Street is slated to open on November 26.

Michael Gill reviewed the Cleveland Artists Foundation's "Cleveland Goes Modern" exhibit in this week's Free Times. It "shows an architectural movement that was just a little too adventurous in its abandonment of nostalgia, a little too new for Northeast Ohio, and indeed most of the United States." It's on display at the Beck Center for the Arts through November 24.

(Update: Steven Litt also reviewed the show, calling it "the first word on the subject, and hopefully not the last.")

The Aurora Planning Commission will take a few months to refine the City's draft master plan. Municipal officials hope the Planning Commission will complete its work by February 1.

A projected budget shortfall led RTA to propose service cuts that would take effect on December 16. The RTA board is scheduled to vote on the proposal next week.

This morning's Sound of Ideas on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of the proposed countywide land bank. The show's guests were Genesee County, Michigan Treasurer Dan Kildee, Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, and Cleveland Councilman Tony Brancatelli. Bill Callahan shared his reactions.

With Enterprise Community Partners holding its annual conference in Cleveland this week, co-founder Patricia Rouse wrote about the importance of affordable housing, saying, "Permanent affordable housing is the life blood of any movement to end poverty."

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Bruce Katz and Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution identify some of the shortcomings of American urban policy, while Joe Frolik of the Plain Dealer examines why political candidates have been neglecting metropolitan issues. Both columns point to the Brookings Institution's new Blueprint for American Prosperity for answers.

A group of roller coaster enthusiasts hopes to preserve the historic Big Dipper at Geauga Lake as the centerpiece of a redevelopment of the former amusement park. The park's wooden roller coaters were recently listed for sale.

(Update: The Aurora Advocate has more details.)

At Friday's NOACA Governing Board meeting, officials from Lorain and Medina Counties reiterated their intention to leave the MPO unless it removes the weighed voting provision. Cuyahoga County officials have said that they're willing to negotiate, but Peter Lawson Jones said that any change must recognize that Cuyahoga County "is significantly larger than the other four" counties. The Governing Board decided to allow the Executive Committee until March to devise a solution to the controversy.

Several recent fires at empty warehouses have highlighted the the fire risk posed by abandoned warehouses, many of which hold unmarked cans and barrels of hazardous materials. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the City of Cleveland "needs to tackle the problem [of cataloging warehouse dangers] with more vigor than it's showing now."

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the region shares responsibility for protecting the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and that park officials have made a compelling case for cooperation.

Broadview Heights City Council rejected a $69,000 TLCI grant for planning a greenway connector trail along Chippewa Creek. It's the first time a city has refused a TLCI grant.

Lyndhurst City Council enacted a development moratorium on all non-residential parcels of one acre or larger for at least the next six months, while the City's master plan is being updated.

The Village of Brooklyn Heights will hold a public meeting about the proposed $25 million retail development along Granger Road, but the time and place have not yet been determined.

Supporters of Camp Cheerful in Strongsville are opposed to a proposed rezoning to permit construction of a hotel on an adjacent site. They say that it would destroy the natural buffer around the camp.

The City of Lakewood is planning to make the Detroit Avenue and Bunts Road area an eastern gateway to its central business district. The former Giant Eagle at the intersection's southwest corner will be demolished and replaced by new commercial and residential development, along with a parking deck. Preliminary recommendation in the Detroit Avenue Streetscape Study include making improvements to transit waiting environments.

Since no lenders signed on to Governor Strickland's proposed foreclosure prevention compact, yesterday he proposed tighter regulation of the mortgage industry. Attorney General Dann will file subpoenas (PDF) regarding possible violations of antitrust, civil rights, and consumer sales practice laws.

The Medina County Commissioners joined the Lorain County Commissioners in asking NOACA to consider eliminating weighted voting.

Garfield Heights City Council unanimously approved easements at Bridgeview Crossing for sewer and water lines and for signage.

The Levin College Forum at CSU will continue its Our Place in the Urban Age series with a forum titled "Creating and Sustaining Communities of Choice" on November 29 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. The speakers will include Mark McDermott of Enterprise Community Partners, Chris Warren of the City of Cleveland, and Ben Hecht of Living Cities.

Solon officials want input from residents on the competing proposals for mixed-use developments, and the Solon Chamber of Commerce formed a task force to review the proposals. Meanwhile, a Solon Park Apartments resident who initially opposed Bob Stark's plan has changed her mind.

(Update: the City is also looking to hire an engineering firm to perform a stormwater analysis, and will soon hold public meetings. Some residents feel that the process is being rushed.)

Election recap

Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority
Issue 14 (renewal levy): passed

Tri-City Joint Recreation District
Issue 19 (Berea): passed
Issue 27 (Brook Park): passed

Broadview Heights
Issue 26 (retail rezoning): passed

Highland Heights
Issue 61 (rezoning): passed

Seven Hills
Issue 76 (Rockside Terrace rezoning): passed

Westlake
Issue 80 (Lutheran Home rezoning): passed
Issue 81 (Crocker Park rezoning): passed

Avon
Issue 35 (rec center/stadium tax): passed

Brunswick
Charter Amendment 1 (eliminate planning director): passed

Streetsboro
Issue 23 (establish planning department): passed
Issue 25 (establish Master Plan Review Commission): passed

Boston Heights
Issue 51 (retail rezoning): failed
Issue 52 (permit big box retail): failed

Twinsburg
Issue 50 (zoning code changes): failed

For complete Cuyahoga County results, visit the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections or Cleveland.com.

Yesterday, the Brookings Institution rolled out the Blueprint for American Prosperity, the latest initiative from its Metropolitan Policy Program. It will "promote an economic agenda for the nation that builds on the assets" of America's metropolitan areas. Data presented (PDF) in conjunction with the introduction of the initiative says that the Cleveland metropolitan area generates 22.5% of Ohio's GDP with 18.5% of the state's population.

Cuyahoga County is preparing to accept bids on the Ameritrust complex at Euclid Avenue and East 9th Street. The County Commissioners will sell the property if they are able to recoup their $35 million investment. Last week, architect Jane Weinzapfel spoke in favor of preserving the Breuer Tower, and yesterday, Steven Litt mentioned that "the tower has been damaged irreparably" by workers performing asbestos abatement.

Keith Hamulak of CB Richard Ellis shared his retail outlook for 2008. If voters in several suburbs approve rezoning initiatives, Greater Cleveland "could experience more than one million square feet of new construction in 2008."

Plans for Hathaway Park in Garfield Heights will affect up to 0.21 acres of wetlands and 3,285 feet of stream. The Ohio EPA will hold a public meeting about the potential impacts on November 15 at the Garfield Heights Civic Center.

Recent and planned medical center construction by the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals has been exclusively in suburban and exurban communities, and not in the region's core cities. The Cleveland Clinic, meanwhile, continues to reshape its main campus in Cleveland. Steven Litt notes that "it's far too soon to judge how good a job the Clinic is doing architecturally," but "it is a good time to start gathering impressions and to hear about the Clinic's design goals."

A Plain Dealer editorial says that the proposed countywide land bank has the potential to "provide the heft needed to break the cycle of speculation, default and foreclosure".

John Debo, Superintendent of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, says that the biggest problems the park faces are "flooding, flooding, and flooding." Increased runoff from recent exurban development in communities surrounding the Park has worsened the problem. In response, the Park has begun working with the communities to improve their stormwater management techniques.

Lakewood Planning and Development Director Tom Jordan reassured residents that the future of Kauffman Park will be determined by a public process with due diligence.

Last week, local architects offered advice to Beck Center leaders on how the current facilities could be restored and modernized. Increasing the efficiency of the complex is a priority.

The BBC used Cleveland to illustrate the foreclosure crisis in the United States, devoting a detailed BBC News article and an episode of This World to the subject.

(via Foreclosing Cleveland and cleveoh)

Mayor Sutherland's Friday City Club talk about regionalism is available for download as a podcast (MP3, 26.2 MB).

The Cleveland City Planning Commission approved plans for the University Lofts project, a renovation of 2010 and 2020 Euclid Avenue and a new building at 2030 Euclid Avenue. The construction is part of the collegetown redevelopment.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that the Cleveland Institute of Art's planned expansion of the McCullough Center will be "a boon for the college and for the Triangle development nearby."

President Bush vetoed the Water Resources Development Act, but Congress is expected to override the veto.

(Update: The House overrode the veto on Tuesday, and the Senate followed suit on Thursday.)

Steven Litt critiqued the designs for the Center for Creative Arts, which is under construction at Tri-C's Metro Campus. He called it "repressed and dull, hard and utilitarian" and "one of the weaker efforts" he's seen in his 16 years in Cleveland.

Panelists at the City Club on Thursday said that Cleveland needs a regional approach to address its homelessness problem. Audio of the event (MP3, 26.7 MB) is available online.

While the pace of farmland loss has slowed in recent years, Ohio has lost almost 77,000 acres of farmland in the last seven years, mostly to residential development. Participants at the recent Farmland Preservation Summit see opportunities in the local food movement and in biofuel production.

AMATS published its 2030 Future Highway Congestion Study (PDF, 20.9 MB), which features traffic projections through 2030. It anticipates that traffic congestion in the Akron area will increase, but at a slower rate than the national average.

Solon officials say that alterations to the site plan for the proposed Southwoods cluster home development will require the project to begin the municipal approval process again. Meanwhile, residents are unhappy that they were not included in settlement talks earlier this year.

The City of Cleveland Heights supplied $18,750 to match a recent $75,000 TLCI grant for a study that will look at ways to improve traffic and pedestrian access in the Cedar-Fairmount neighborhood. The study will also examine the impact of the proposed redevelopment of the Top of the Hill site.

The Friends of Euclid Creek purchased a conservation easement to protect 12.5 acres of a 37 acre property owned by the Mayfield City School District. The pocket prairie in Highland Heights is home to 408 types of plants, including rare and endangered species. The purchase was funded by a Natural Resources Assistance Council grant.

Today's ballot in Berea (Issue 19) and Brook Park (Issue 27) includes a proposal to create a joint recreational taxing district to support the Tri-City Senior Center. Middleburg Heights City Council approved the district last year. Funding for the district is not included in this issue.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted approval to the City of North Royalton to build a retention basin in the Chesapeake Drive area. The basin was the main project identified by the Citizens Flooding Oversight Committee.

The rent subsidy program proposed for downtown Bedford received mixed reviews from downtown business owners.

The Bentleyville Planning and Zoning Commission did not approve the preliminary plat for the proposed 19.6 acre Wharton Woods subdivision, formerly known as Holbrook Estates.

The Lorain County Commissioners today asked NOACA to eliminate the weighted voting provision from the bylaws regulating its Governing Board. Meanwhile, Chris Thompson responded to yesterday's Morning Journal editorial, saying, "We need to fix our system, not break up the region."

(Update: The Chronicle-Telegram presents more details.)

The Bay Park Beach Association wants to build a 775 foot stone revetment and a timber pier off the Lake Erie coast of Bay Village. The Ohio EPA will hold a public meeting on November 14 to obtain public input on potential water quality impacts.

A series of events will be held this month about modernist architecture, its reuse and preservation, and the Breuer Tower.

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