Time for resident participation in the Cleveland Heights Planning Commission strategic plan

The Cleveland Heights Planning Commission, with assistance from the city’s Department of Planning and Development, has released its Strategic Development Plan 2010: Planning Commission Recommendations to City Council June 25, 2010.

Richard Wong, director of the planning and development department describes the plan this way:  “This document provides perspective on how best to plan for, encourage and prioritize future development and community initiatives in conjunction with private investments."

As a management strategy, the plan is envisioned to:

                • Establish goals and tactics;

                • Identify community and development issues;

                • Prioritize these issues;

                • Provide a vehicle for progress measurement and process monitoring; and

                • Establish a timeline and initiatives to move the city forward.”

You can read a copy of the draft strategic plan online at the city’s website www.clevelandheights.com. This 41-page document has three parts provide a good overview for those who do not plan to attend the public hearing.

Pages 8-20 define the commission’s seven goals and the nitty-gritty suggestions for meeting those goals.

The last 20 pages provide a history of development in Cleveland Heights. Appendix A describes the goals and outcomes of the city’s last strategic development plan in 1993. (The new plan wisely requires review of the strategic development plan every year.) Appendix B was written in February 2009 and reports the city’s progress in relation to the strategic development plans of 1988 and 1993.

The planning commission consists of seven residents, appointed by council for six-year terms; their compensation is $90 a month. This commission makes recommendations about the physical development of the city to council and the city manager. Current members of the planning commission are Michael Ungar, chair; Leonard Horowitz, vice-chair; Ezekiel Burrows; Russell Baron; James Cull; Alexander Pesta and Diana Woodbridge.

Based on my reading of this report, the planning commission sees new and upscale housing as the city’s best new source of income. They correctly identify the Oakwood Country Club property as the largest piece of undeveloped land in the city, and discuss several options for its development. Severance Neighborhood Organization opposes plans to develop this beautiful greenspace for several reasons, and is working with the Trust for Public Land to preserve it. Our community has to have amenities that appeal to new residents of all kinds, including those who can afford new and upscale homes. Oakwood could be connected to other community greenspaces via biking and hiking trails and this would build on the planning commission’s proposal to reconfigure the retail areas nearby.

This strategic plan is a good working document with many exciting ideas. A few ideas are, of course, missing, such as a plan to work with other cities to build an indoor swimming facility, including a pool to accommodate the frail and disabled. And an aggressive, broad and comprehensive plan to improve the entire city’s aesthetics, particularly those of its 7,643 rental units.

How can you participate in Cleveland Heights’ planning process? Attend the public hearing on Sept. 13 or e-mail your questions and comments to devplan@clvhts.com. City council members have to approve the strategic plan before it is implemented, so it is important that they hear from you before they vote.

Fran Mentch is the president of the Severence Neighborhood Organization.

Box: Strategic Development Plan Public Hearing

7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 13

Cleveland Heights Community Center, 1 Monticello Boulevard

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Volume 3, Issue 8, Posted 11:26 PM, 07.27.2010