South Euclid to hold public meeting on Oakwood rezoning March 10

The South Euclid Planning Commission will hold a public meeting on Thursday, March 10, to review the proposed rezoning of the portion of the former Oakwood Country Club property within South Euclid’s boundaries. The commission is considering changing the zoning of the property from one-family residential to general commercial.

The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. in the city council chambers at South Euclid City Hall, 1349 South Green Road. The Zoning Map Amendment is on file and available for public inspection at the city’s commissioner of building office at city hall.

The planning commission held several meetings in February and early March to discuss various aspects of the proposed project. At one meeting, Stephen Hovancsek and Associates, a traffic-engineering and planning consulting firm, recommended that the issue of traffic impact not be an impediment to rezoning. The firm agreed with a traffic study prepared by TMS Engineers for the developer, First Interstate, which found that the main traffic impact would be on Warrensville Center Road and that the increase in traffic volume would be minimal.

Regarding the issue of cut-through traffic in the area’s multiple side streets, the consultants recommended waiting until after the project is built to discover where the traffic problems are and then mitigate them. The firm stated that First Interstate had indicated a willingness to conduct additional traffic studies and had pledged to put $50,000 in escrow for mitigation. Additionally, the developer pledged to contribute up to an additional $50,000 for traffic calming improvements in the West Five neighborhood, the five streets that lie between Cedar Center North and the proposed Oakwood Commons development.

Planning consulting firm McKenna Associates of Northville, MI, recommended that a revision to the city’s comprehensive plan be made in conjunction with South Euclid City Council’s consideration of the planning commission’s recommendation. The firm found that the proposed rezoning is in conflict with both the 1999 plan and a 2010 update, but said, “We believe that the scale and unexpected nature of the Oakwood property becoming available for development constitutes a significant enough change in conditions to warrant a revision.”

McKenna Associates pointed out that South Euclid’s comprehensive plan states several times that the city lacks undeveloped land and commercial development opportunities within its boundaries. “We believe that, if rezoned, the proposed Oakwood site would provide sufficient, but not excessive, commercial property in South Euclid,” the firm said in its report.

McKenna Associates stated that the public opinion is important when considering rezoning and that the public appears to support the project, based on response to a mailing conducted by the developer. First Interstate sent 13,000 mailers to South Euclid and Cleveland Heights residents adjacent to the project site, asking them to mail in a postcard if they supported the project. 169 people responded positively, while only 19 people mailed in the postcard stating that they did not support the rezoning.

McKenna Associates recommended that the planning commission recommend approval of the proposed rezoning of the Oakwood site because they found that it would not harm adjacent property owners; it would be consistent with many of the city’s development plans and objectives; it would maintain the health, safety and general welfare of the community; it would serve as a natural extension of existing nonresidential uses in close proximity to the site; the city’s existing infrastructure and municipal services would be adequate to accommodate the new use; and the economic, environmental, and social benefits would outweigh any potential negative impacts.

On March 10, the planning commission will gather input from residents. The commission will then hold a work session on March 17 to discuss unresolved and new issues. At its regularly scheduled meeting on March 24, the commission will address the conflicting statements in the city’s comprehensive plan. The commission will then vote on whether or not to recommend the rezoning of the Oakwood property to city council at its April 17 meeting. If the commission were to recommend rezoning, South Euclid City Council must first hold a public meeting, for which it must give 30-days notice, before it could vote on the proposed change.

Meanwhile, First Interstate announced last week that it had exercised its option to purchase the Cleveland Heights portion of the Oakwood property. Officials from the City of Cleveland Heights said that they have not yet received plans from the developer. Earlier, city officials had said that they could not comment on the project until they had received such plans.

Deanna Bremer Fisher

Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.

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Volume 4, Issue 4, Posted 3:37 PM, 03.07.2011