Plan discourages Oakwood rezoning
First Interstate Properties’ request before the South Euclid’s Planning Commission to rezone the Oakwood Club property from residential to commercial big-box use directly conflicts with the South Euclid Comprehensive Plan 2000 and Update 2010.
The South Euclid Comprehensive Plan specifically states that if Oakwood were to become available for redevelopment it should not be rezoned to accommodate commercial development. Citing a “plethora of retail choices outside the City to meet the needs of residents” and specifically discouraging commercial expansion along the Warrensville Road corridor, the plan was written when the city knew the land was for sale. Despite this, planners in 2010 reconfirmed the policy of having Oakwood remain zoned for residential use.
Now South Euclid City Council, as it works to move this legislation through quickly, is requesting the Planning Commission revise the wording of the plan to rescind the Oakwood residential zoning recommendations that were made in 2000 and 2010.
Fast tracking a major commercial big-box development on the Warrensville Road corridor now in 2011-–a development whose economic and quality-of-life impacts are largely unknown, due to a lack of independent study and citizen participation-–flies in the face of the Comprehensive Plan recommendations.
According to Institute for Self Reliance, “City officials are under no obligation to change established zoning policies to accommodate a developer. Indeed, doing so may be considered arbitrary ‘spot zoning’–the rezoning of a single parcel to benefit a property owner rather than carry out an objective of the comprehensive plan–which courts have deemed illegal.”
First Interstate Properties completed its purchase of the property in late 2010, taking a gamble on being able to sell a big-box development, an archaic retail model in the 21st century, to South Euclid. The Oakwood Commons project is not consistent with the stated development plans and objectives of the City of South Euclid. Is this spot zoning in action?
Sarah Wean is a 20-year resident of Cleveland Heights.