What will University Heights look like in 50 years?
For me the issues of McDonalds on Warrensville and Temple B'nai Torah on South Green are about three things: Just what is University Heights going to look like in 50 years? What do the residents affected by these projects think, and why can't the city make the developer address their concerns as individuals?
No one can answer the first question because no one has thought about it in a meaningful way. The answer to the second question is all too apparent.
I really wonder how allowing a McDonalds on Warrensville will improve University Heights property values. Other than a shallow gain to our tax base, I can't really see this as a good decision. Apparently neither does city council. And yet they approved the project anyway given the "narrowness" of the action they were requested to take. The explanations of city council are neither satisfying nor defensible. If the vice mayor thinks it is a poor use of the property, then vote no. The justification need go no further than the 10 neighbors who object to the project. What is their remediation? What is their recourse? Changing the traffic patterns does not address the smell, noise and commotion of a restaurant open 18 hours a day.
If University Heights council thinks it needs a McDonald's, put it somewhere in the University Square Complex. If they are restricted by the actions of the owner of the property, buy it from him and land bank it. It would be worth the debt incurred. Then build an office building or something else.
I had the chance to address a group of University Heights seniors a week or two ago about regional sustainability and collaboration. One of the participants mentioned that University Heights is too small to have a economic development staff person and had to take the opportunities with which it is presented. If this is the dynamic driving our decisions, then just what is University Heights going to look like in 50 years? I will tell you this: My house will be 125 years old, and I won't be upgrading it, because I won't be able to get my money back out of it. Thank you very much city council and Temple B'nai Torah.
There has to be a formal plan for the city. There is not. There has to be an attitude by city council to respect the wishes of existing residents and to protect the value of individual property. If these projects are going to continue because "that is what comes down the pike," then residents must be offered remuneration by the developers as part of the cost of doing their projects.