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FirstEnergy announced plans to shut down its coal-fired Eastlake Power Plant in Lake County and Lake Shore Power Plant in Cleveland this September, nearly a year ahead of schedule. In Lorain County, NRG Energy revealed plans last year to convert its Avon Lake Generating Station from coal to natural gas.

Cuyahoga County is again considering runway expansion plans for County Airport. Seven alternatives are being examined. The County Airport environmental assessment project will hold its first public open house on February 27.

Update: unlike earlier plans, the current proposal has generated little controversy.

The U.S. EPA awarded Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants for two Greater Cleveland projects, giving $996,902 to the Ohio EPA and $770,250 to the Chagrin River Watershed Partners. The Ohio EPA will use its award to implement green stormwater control practices in Cuyahoga County, and the Chagrin River Watershed Partners will use its for green infrastructure projects in Lake County. Meanwhile, the Healing Our Waters - Great Lakes Coalition issued a report that highlights successful environmental restoration projects in Greater Cleveland.

The company that manages the electrical grid from Ohio to the East Coast determined that FirstEnergy's plans to shut down three area coal-fired power plants in September would create reliability problems and that the plants will remain open until April 2015. FirstEnergy's revised plans include the installation of combustion turbines at its Eastlake plant.

New maps from the Ohio Geological Survey illustrate the portions of the state where Utica shale deposits are expected to yield the most oil and gas. Previous maps included Cuyahoga, Lake, and Lorain counties in this area, but they are mostly excluded in the revised maps.

FirstEnergy announced that it is reconsidering its plans to close its Eastlake power plant. The company is studying the possibility of replacing the plant's coal-fired turbines with combustion turbines that would be fueled by natural gas or oil. It would continue to operate as a peaking plant, providing up to 800 megawatts.

FirstEnergy announced that it will close six older coal-fired power plants this year, including the Lake Shore Power Plant in Cleveland and the Eastlake Plant in Lake County. The company attributed the decision to new federal mercury pollution standards. Most of the plants that will be closed have been operated as peaking plants.

A Plain Dealer editorial said the closures represented "a punch in the gut for communities already battling sour unemployment numbers," while an editorial in Toledo's Blade said that "no single policy is responsible for the closures." an Akron Beacon Journal editorial provided some perspective. The Natural Resources Defense Council called it "good news for human health and a clean energy economy."

Update: The Atlantic Cities considered how the decision may affect the City of Eastlake.

Last week, the U.S. EPA issued the first national standards for mercury and other toxic air emissions from power plants. Under the new rules, which will become effective in 2014 and 2015, operators will have to install pollution controls or shut down older coal-fired power plants. The regulations could impact several local power plants, including FirstEnergy's Lake Shore Power Plant in Cleveland and Eastlake Power Plant in Lake County, and Genon's Avon Lake Generating Station in Lorain County.

On Friday, NOACA awarded $845,000 in Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative grants to 13 transportation projects (PDF) in Cuyahoga, Lake, and Lorain counties. Eight of the selected planning studies are in the City of Cleveland, and the others are in Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, Euclid, Eastlake, and Elyria. Eastlake City Council refused its grant.

Update: the Sun Press described the projects in Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights.

Local wind turbine initiatives have been highlighted in the media:

The Ohio EPA is reviewing the Village of Kirtland Hills' final plans for restoring an 8,700-foot stretch of the Chagrin River's east branch. The Village has begun work on related stream bank improvements.

Officials in Northeast Ohio and Ontario continue to discuss plans for a Lake Erie ferry. Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority CEO William Friedman is interested, as are leaders in Lake County and Ashtabula.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial backs the idea.

Update 2: the London Free Press presents a Canadian perspective.

Citing reduced demand and proposed federal regulations, FirstEnergy announced plans to reduce operations at four of its smaller coal-fired power plants in Ohio. The changes include plans (PDF) to temporarily idle the Lake Shore Plant in Cleveland and to operate the Eastlake Plant only during the summer and winter.

Cuyahoga County Airport officials dropped their plans to extend a runway and reroute surrounding roads. The alternative recently approved by the Cuyahoga County Commissioners instead calls for modifications within the airport's existing footprint.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more information. The Sun Messenger also published details about the plans.

Mark Salling and Ellen Cyran of the Levin College of Urban Affairs expect that the 2010 Census will report that the City of Cleveland's population remains over 400,000. Lake and Geauga county officials anticipate modest population increases.

A group of Brooklyn Centre residents objects to the Ohio Department of Transportation's plans to install noise walls along I-71. They prefer plant-based noise barriers. Meanwhile, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners adopted a voluntary noise abatement procedure for Cuyahoga County Airport.

More than 150 sites were selected to participate in a two-year pilot program for the Sustainable Sites Initiative. The interdisciplinary initiative is an effort to establish a national rating system for sustainable landscape design. The projects in Ohio are at the Cleveland Botanical Garden in Cleveland, the West Creek Reservation in Parma, and the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland.

Update: the Plain Dealer published more details about the Botanical Garden's participation.

Update 2: the Parma Sun Post described the project at the West Creek Reservation.

The Ohio EPA awarded grants for restoration of stretches of the Chagrin River and Little Cuyahoga River (PDFs). The Geauga Park District received $400,000 and the Lake Metroparks received $349,584 for projects along the Chagrin River, and the City of Akron received $400,000 for work along the Little Cuyahoga River.

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal published more information about the project in Summit County and WKSU has more details about the Geauga County work. The Ohio EPA also awarded a $394,000 grant (PDF) to the West Creek Preservation Committee.

The Ohio EPA approved plans by the Village of Kirtland Hills to restore an altered portion of the Chagrin River's east branch. Work is scheduled to begin in August.

Cleveland and Cuyahoga County officials are willing to discuss a possible merger of Burke Lakefront Airport and Cuyahoga County Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration wants both airports to remain open. Meanwhile, County Airport staff is considering alternatives to the airport's master plan.

Update: Cuyahoga County Economic Development Director Paul Oyaski does not support closing Cuyahoga County Airport.

Cleveland Director of Port Control Ricky Smith proposed closing Cuyahoga County Airport and consolidating service at Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport. Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones said he'd consider the idea.

Officials in Lake County hope to conduct a balanced growth plan for the eastern part of the county.

The Village of Kirtland Hills is finalizing its plans for the restoration of the altered 8,700-foot stretch of the Chagrin River.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority is no longer pursuing a proposed Lake Erie ferry from North Coast Harbor to Port Stanley, Ontario, at least partly due to issues on the Canadian side. However, planning continues for the initiation of ferry service between Lake County and Port Burwell, Ontario. Port Authority officials instead want to proceed with modifications to the Port of Cleveland and the development of cargo container shipping. The Port Authority will apply for federal stimulus funds to establish a containerized shipping line between Cleveland and Montreal.

The Lake County Mayors and City Managers Association has taken no action on the proposed 16-county Regional Prosperity Initiative since it was presented to members in April. Painesville City Manager Rita McMahon expects that building consensus will be difficult.

The Ohio EPA reached an agreement with the Village of Kirtland Hills regarding unauthorized alterations of the Chagrin River near property owned by developer Jerome Osborne. The Village will develop and implement a restoration plan. No agreement was reached with Osborne.

Update: a News-Herald editorial says that the "agreement is a good development".

The City of Eastlake recently adopted a new comprehensive plan. It was prepared by the City's Economic & Community Development Council, the Lake County Planning Commission, and the Chagrin River Watershed Partners.

Ohio EPA officials say that developer Jerome Osborne, Sr. has not cooperated in developing a plan to restore an 8,700-foot section of the Chagrin River's east branch in Kirtland Hills. The agency intends to refer the matter to the Ohio Attorney General's Office for enforcement action.

Willoughby Hills leaders urged the over 100 people who attended a public hearing to organize in opposition to the planned runway extension at Cuyahoga County Airport. A Euclid Sun Journal editorial also opposes the extension.

In addition to gathering municipal support for their balanced growth initiative, the Chagrin River Watershed Partners are also seeking an endorsement from the Lake County Commissioners.

Members of the Lake County Mayors and City Managers Association are skeptical about the Regional Prosperity Initiative, and question the need for regional revenue sharing. The Regional Prosperity Initiative will hold its first monthly webinar on May 1.

Willoughby Hills leaders are still opposed to the runway extension planned for Cuyahoga County Airport, and are examining their options.

Leaders of emergency and safety departments in Lake and Geauga counties have mixed reactions to regionalism initiatives.

The Ohio EPA, the Village of Kirtland Hills, and property owner Jerome Osborne, Sr. have been discussing plans for rehabilitating an 8,700-foot stretch of the Chagrin River. In 2007, 20,000 cubic yards of material was moved from the stream bed to an adjacent property without authorization.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners will revisit the Cuyahoga County Airport master plan at their meeting on Thursday. The plan was tabled last April following opposition to runway extension plans from residents and politicians in Highland Heights, Richmond Heights, and Willoughby Hills.

Update: the Commissioners unanimously voted to submit the development plan to the FAA.

Jason Boyd was selected to succeed the retiring Darrell Webster as director of the Lake County Planning Commission.

Darrell Webster, director of the Lake County Planning Commission, will retire on January 30 after 44 years of public service.

Laketran gave its inaugural Smart Growth Award to the City of Wickliffe for the way it has adopted transit-oriented development practices.

Population growth in North Ridgeville is straining the resources of the school district's bus fleet. Meanwhile, police departments in Geauga and Lake counties are struggling to deal with a crime rate that has increased along with their populations.

The 1,100 acre Lakeview Bluffs development in Fairport Harbor, Painesville, and Painesville Township could take 25 years and $1 billion to complete. Construction is expected to begin in 2010. CSU professor Robert Simons says it "could very well be the largest construction project Lake County sees in the next 100 years."

Next month, RTA and Laketran buses will begin driving on the shoulder of I-90 during traffic jams. If the test is successful, the concept could be applied to other local highways.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners are expected to vote on Cuyahoga County Airport runway extension plans at their meeting on Thursday morning. The cities of Highland Heights, Richmond Heights, and Willoughby Hills oppose the plan, but the Commissioners say they need to consider economic factors in addition to the opinions of the airport's neighbors.

Members of Richmond Heights City Council are trying to decide whether to support or oppose the planned Cuyahoga County Airport runway extension. Many residents are firmly opposed to the extension.

Cuyahoga County Airport officials have been holding public meetings and making presentations (PDF) to city councils about the latest runway extension plan for the airport. Additional community meetings will be held over the next several months.

The News-Herald looked at the role of NIMBYs in Lake County and eastern Cuyahoga County.

The Cuyahoga County Department of Development and its engineering consultant recommended an alternative for extending the runway at Cuyahoga County Airport. The alternative (PDF) calls for extending the runway at both ends and realigning Richmond and Bishop Roads. It does not require the acquisition of any residential properties. Willoughby Hills officials remain opposed to the extension.

Update: the Plain Dealer published more details and a diagram.

The recent train derailment in Painesville has Cleveland officials talking again about an ordinance to reroute trains with hazardous cargo away from the City's most densely populated areas.

Canadian officials budgeted $315,000 to study the proposed Lake Erie ferry that would link the Mentor Headlands Beach State Park area to Port Burwell, Ontario.

An 8,700 foot stretch of the Chagrin River in Kirtland Hills was rechanneled without authorization from state or federal officials. The Army Corps of Engineers says the work was a violation of the Clean Water Act, and Ohio EPA officials say that it did serious damage to the River's ecosystem and may increase downstream flooding and erosion.

(Update: The Plain Dealer has more details.)

A News-Herald editorial praises a new regional economic development strategy for Lake County. "The vision is a regional focus that puts the good of the county equal to individual cities, townships and villages."

(via Advance Northeast Ohio)

This week's Scene raises concerns about toxic waste at the former Diamond Shamrock site in Fairport Harbor, a Superfund site being remediated and redeveloped as part of the Lakeview Bluffs resort community.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency awarded grants to the Western Reserve Land Conservancy for the acquisition of conservation easements for 132 acres of riparian buffers along the East Branch of the Rocky River in Summit and Medina Counties, and to Grand River Partners for the restoration and protection of 300 acres of riparian buffers and wetlands in the lower Grand River watershed in Lake County.

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.)

Cathedral Worship Center, currently in Wickliffe, wants to build a 37,000 square foot facility at the former Sims Buick property on Euclid Avenue in Euclid. The proposal requires City Council approval.

Alternative expansion plans for the expansion of Cuyahoga County Airport are under consideration after the Cuyahoga and Lake County Commissioners rejected the initial option of expanding into Willoughby Hills.

Willoughby Hills residents and politicians are opposed to an expansion of the Cuyahoga County Airport that may be proposed in the master plan currently being conducted. Willoughby Hills City Council recently hired attorney David Zoll to help fight any expansion.

(Update: The News-Herald provides additional details.)

The Lake County Commissioners yesterday voted to create a port authority for the County. It will exclude the four Lake County communities that had previously established their own port authorities.

Mayor Lorenz of Willoughby Hills announced that "all facts and figures point towards" expansion of the Cuyahoga County Airport runway in Willoughby Hills by 900 feet, but Cuyahoga County Department of Development Director Paul Oyaski said that "No decision has been made about runway expansion."

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