Deny the petition to rezone Vandemar Street homes
At its Jan. 15 meeting, Cleveland Heights City Council acknowledged receipt of a petition to rezone the two occupied residences on Vandemar Street closest to the Center Mayfield Theater, from residential to commercial (C-2). The rezoning is so that they can be demolished, along with the Center Mayfield Theater and Mayfield Noble Building, to make room for a 16-pump Circle K gas station/convenience store.
The planned gas station is destructive. It would turn two occupied homes; two buildings that, until last year, housed four businesses, including a day care; and a historic building into one large gas station. It would turn two backyards and a small playground into a “greenspace” between the convenience store and the neighboring house. (I do not expect this “greenspace” to be just as well-kept and family-friendly.)
The draft for the Community Vision section of the impending Cleveland Heights Master Plan (www.clevelandheights.com/master-plan) sets a course for development in our city. It says lots of good things. It says we want walkable business districts. It says we want to “continue to promote the preservation of historic homes and buildings.” It says cleaner and greener.
Gas stations prioritize driveability. This gas station proposal cheapens the character of our neighborhood and displaces existing historic homes and buildings. This gas station goes against almost every stated goal of the CH Master Plan.
We want to invest (to commit resources in hope of gain) and encourage others to invest in our city and in our neighborhoods. This gas station would do the opposite: We would be committing resources sure of a loss.
The tax base lost four businesses already and would lose two households and their property tax (two houses is 8.5 percent of Vandemar's total houses). Property values of the nearby area would take a hit.
The business this gas station would do will be lost to the BP station a block away and the nearby Shell and Get-Go stations. And nothing says “Cleveland Heights! Great place to move to!” like a 16-pump, 24-hour, mega interstate-style gas station. At least they haven't asked for a tax abatement and a liquor license. Yet.
Here's a fact: Gas stations pollute. Here's some of the ways: Fuel vapor and car exhaust pollute the air. Spilled gasoline, oil, hydraulic fluids, and antifreeze run off into our sewers (and neighboring yards). Leaking underground tanks leach gasoline into the surrounding soil. Gas stations have incredibly bright lights and loud noises 24 hours a day, and in this case one would be directly across the street from and adjacent to homes on Vandemar. Litter increases around gas stations. The proposed gas station would pollute our neighborhood in expensive and lasting ways.
The planned gas station is destructive. It goes against almost every stated goal of the CH Master Plan. We would be committing resources sure of a loss. The proposed gas station would pollute our neighborhood. Because of these reasons, there should not be a gas station at Vandemar Street and Mayfield Road. Because of these reasons, Cleveland Heights City Council should join hands with its citizens and do the right thing for everyone, safeguarding our neighborhoods and our character: Deny the petition to rezone the homes on Vandemar Street.
North Mayfield residents and other concerned citizens are organizing support to deny the petition to rezone. You can catch up with them at mayfield.nextdoor.com. Noble Neighbors has set up an action group for this issue as well. Information can be found at www.nobleneighbors.com.
Ian Griffith lives on Vandemar Street in Cleveland Heights. He is the office manager at the Lusty Wrench, and a Cleveland State University graduate.