Citizens for Oakwood seeks referendum on South Euclid zoning change

To the Editor:       

As many readers know, the Oakwood Country Club property (60 acres in South Euclid and 90 acres in Cleveland Heights) is threatened with big-box development. On June 27, South Euclid City Council unanimously voted to rezone the South Euclid portion from residential to commercial use to accommodate development by Mitchell Schneider of First Interstate.  

Only two weeks later, Citizens for Oakwood achieved a major goal by collecting twice as many South Euclid voter signatures as are required to put the rezoning ordinance on the November ballot. By law, we had 40 days to accomplish this task, and we did it in less than 14. This demonstrates significant opposition to "value-oriented" big-box retail development at Oakwood.  

As our petition circulators stood outside the South Euclid branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, asking those coming and going, "Do you live in South Euclid? Are you a registered voter in South Euclid?" many library patrons asked about the issue and then said, "Oh, I'm sorry, I live in Lyndhurst (or Shaker or University Heights or Cleveland Heights). I would love to sign that petition. Thank you so much for what you're doing."  

The great majority of South Euclid voters we encountered were eager to sign the petition. They said things like: "We definitely don't need more shopping!" "What about Cedar Center? Will it ever be done?" "How can they do this with so many empty storefronts?" and "Let the people decide!"  

It seems that South Euclid voters are getting the message: If First Interstate is allowed to develop, they're not going to get a "lifestyle center" like Legacy Village. Mr. Schneider has said all along it will be big-box "value-oriented" retail. People know what that means, and it is not what most South Euclideans want.  

Having gathered more than enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, Citizens for Oakwood is now launching a major campaign to reverse South Euclid Ordinance 05-11 with a loud and clear citizens' veto in November. Although only South Euclid citizens can vote on this, many in surrounding communities grasp that Oakwood is a regional treasure, and should be a regional resource.  

The 150 acres of Oakwood are graced with majestic trees that have been there for more than a century, a sweeping meadowland, Nine-Mile Creek flowing to Lake Erie, and, on the Cleveland Heights acreage, an historic clubhouse. Building a strip mall and parking lots on this unique parcel of land would be an irrevocable and mistaken move, focused on short-term profits, but denying the imperatives of the future.

Citizens for Oakwood is proud and grateful to have the support of the Sierra Club and the Shaker Heights Nature Center, as well as many local businesses and area residents. If you would like to help with time, money or talent, please email us at info@citizensforoakwood.com or call 216-694-8304 to volunteer.  

Carla Rautenberg

Carla Rautenberg
Berkshire Road
Cleveland Heights

Read More on Letters To The Editor
Volume 4, Issue 8, Posted 12:13 PM, 08.02.2011