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Friday, April 29, 2011

Zamiska Sharply Scrutinizes Cedar Center

Planning Commission member Tracie Zamiska to Peter Rubin, President of the Coral Company:

“…You sell something and now there’s not a delivery…”

“…There is not one resident in this city that believes in this plan. There is not one person who thinks that this is going to be successful…”

Video highlights below:  April 28, 2011 –HIGHLIGHTS- from the 19 minute video of Peter Rubin, President of the Coral Company discussing preliminary plans with the South Euclid Planning Commission. (Please see longer version below in this post) Despite claiming they intend to break ground this August, there are a number of pieces missing from the puzzle. Commission member Traci Zamiska delivered some harsh words for the Cedar Center project. 

  • time: 3 min. 19 sec.

Video below: A few items to note – as illustrated in the video highlights, Planning Commission member Tracie Zamiska contradicts all previous public statements put forth by any member of the Administration or Council regarding the Cedar Center project. This level of dissent has never before come from behind the walls of City Hall. Notice the reaction from Planning Commission Chairman, Art Goddard as Zamiska lambastes the plans presented for Cedar Center.

What is a Charrette?
A charrette is an intensive planning session where citizens, designers and others collaborate on a vision for development.

  • time: 19 min. 18 sec.

After the meeting ended, Peter Rubin was questioned about the residential component at Cedar Center. He disclosed there would be no housing at Cedar Center.

Some facts on why it is interesting there will be no residential component:

South Euclid received $1.8 million in funds from Cuyahoga County for the demolition and environmental abatement of Cedar Center. The amounts of funding assistance requested and received were: $1,000,000 from the Brownfield Redevelopment Fund and $800,000 from the Commercial Redevelopment Fund.
Funds are awarded by the County based on specific criteria outlined by the application process. Applications are reviewed and a scoring system is used to determine adherence and level of compliance for the various requirements of the program. The existence of housing in the project allowed South Euclid to receive a higher score on the rating scale used by the County. (Please see documents below)

Please click on images below to view full size. 

To gain insight into the revolving explanations of how, when and by who the $1.8 million will be repaid – or how much, if any, will be “forgiven” – please see the previous post, Irreconcilable Details.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for answers!

Another oddity is why South Euclid presented information on the application which wasn’t quite factual at the time of submission. For example, the supposed $13,000,000 Tax Increment Financing (TIF) proposal requested of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District has never been approved by CHUH to date. On the application South Euclid officials represented that financing arrangement as a done deal. 

In response to requests for public records, Scott Gainer, Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District provided the following information on
April 5, 2011:
"The district was first approached by South Euclid asking for a TIF at Cedar Center in November, 2005. 

The original proposal was 30 years, 100% exemption. Over the years these terms have changed many times (length, TIF vs. abatement, etc.) and are currently being negotiated through legal counsel.

The district’s position has always been that we would expect to receive no less than what we received from the old Cedar Center strip (approximately $320,000 annually). We have been willing to forego anything more being sensitive to economic conditions. The city has placed the property in a land bank and it is currently bringing us nothing.

The city had over $19 million in outstanding notes related to this property (purchase and other costs). The current auditor value of that property is $4.5 million."

For further information regarding Cedar Center, please see the previous SEOversight posts:

Lapsed Contract Kept Under Wraps

A Desperate Chase
Toxic Tango
Why Did Ordinance: 35-10 Go Away?
The Camera Doesn’t Lie

The following information was obtained from the  Cuyahoga County Department of Development  website at the time South Euclid submitted the following funding request applications. (links provided below)

Brownfield Community Assessment Initiative
The Cuyahoga County Brownfield Redevelopment Fund Community Assessment Initiative provides professional services to conduct Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessments on brownfields contaminated with hazardous substances and/or petroleum products in Cuyahoga County. The County contracts directly with experienced environmental consulting firms to conduct the assessment work. The most appropriate consultants will be assigned to a selected project. All Phase I environmental site assessments will meet the USEPA's "All Appropriate Inquiry" criteria; however, there is the option to complete all assessment activities under the standards of the Ohio EPA's Voluntary Action Program (VAP) and/or the State of Ohio's Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulations' (BUSTR) 3-Tier Evaluation process. Eligible applicants are public entities, non-profit organizations, businesses, and developers located in the County. Funds are not available to any parties that caused or contributed to the contamination of the site. Please complete and submit an application if you are interested in receiving environmental site assessments under this Initiative. The Department of Development's brownfields staff highly recommends contacting them before applying. A committee, consisting of the County's brownfields staff and local community organizations, will review and make recommendations for suitable sites to the Development Director on a first-come-first-served basis. The following criteria will be used to evaluate applications: Community and Economic Benefits - Has the Applicant demonstrated the community and economic benefits of assessing and, subsequently redeveloping the project property? Redevelopment Viability - Has the Applicant demonstrated that the redevelopment of the project property is viable in the near-term? Risk - Has the Applicant adequately indicated the possible existing risks to human health and the environment at the site and demonstrated the need for assessment? Leverage - Has the Applicant adequately attempted to leverage additional funds and/or will County assessment funds stimulate additional funding for assessment/cleanup from other sources? The Department of Development requires the local community to demonstrate their support by having the local government in which a selected brownfield is located approve a resolution of support for the project. For additional information, contact the Department of Development's brownfields staff .

 Commercial Redevelopment Fund
Due to the strong demand for this program, all funds are currently committed. Please check back to this site for updates. The Cuyahoga County Commercial Redevelopment Fund is specifically designed to overcome barriers to the full re-use of abandoned, idled or underutilized commercial, industrial and institutional properties within Cuyahoga County. The primary focus is directed toward urban and “first ring” suburban communities. Job creation and an increase in property values are expected outcomes of redevelopment. The Commercial Redevelopment Fund consists of three programs: the Municipal Redevelopment Program, the Private Redevelopment Program and the Local Parking Needs Program . The CRF can be utilized to redevelopment vacant buildings or demolish idled properties and make way for redevelopment. Eligible projects must include a significantly vacant (at least 40% vacancy for the last 2 or more years) building that is at least 20 years old. Eligible applicants are public entities, non-profit organizations, businesses, and developers located in the county. Funds are not available for projects with environmental contaminants other than asbestos and lead paint. Commercial Redevelopment Fund does not support big box, retail mall development, lifestyle centers or other large-scale retail projects. The Commercial Redevelopment Fund cannot be used for the development of for-sale housing. More detailed information can be found in the description of the Commercial Redevelopment Fund , Loan Subsidy and Forgiveness Schedule , our Green/Sustainable Building Incentives and the Community Benefit Calculator . The Department of Development requires the local community to demonstrate their support by having the local government in which a selected site is located approve a resolution of support for the project. Community Development extends a special thank you to Peggy Weil Dorfman of the City of Solon for her invaluable assistance Contact Information: Christine S. Nelson Community Development Manager Cuyahoga County Department of Development 112 Hamilton Ct., Fourth Floor Annex Bldg. Cleveland, Ohio 44114 Phone: (216) 443.8066 Fax: (216) 348.4479 Pequita L. Hansberry Development Finance Analyst Cuyahoga County Department of Development 112 Hamilton Ct., Fourth Floor Annex Bldg. Cleveland, OH 44114 Phone: (216) 443.8397 Fax: (216) 348.4479


Saturday, April 23, 2011

No More Free Lunch?

Video below: Service Director Ed Gallagher is an advocate for instituting a fee for garbage collection: “Everybody’s paying for rubbish.” He also makes the statement, “There’s no longer a free lunch.” The collection of brown yard waste bags has ceased. Mr. Gallagher explains that a brown bag full of grass clippings weighs 60 pounds. Interestingly, the city has recommended that residents may now dispose of those bags by bringing them to the service garage.

Council President David Miller makes reference to the tax credit rollback legislation uproar of 2010. “This conversation also germinated when the tax credit was rolled back and then put back on. That it was a more fair option regarding everybody having skin in the game.”

  • time: 3 min. 58 sec.

Please click on image below to view full size.

2 Videos below: 3 well informed citizens voice their concerns about rising salaries and the creation of new positions during a meeting on June 21, 2010. 
  • time: 7 min. 34 sec.

  • time: 6 min. 16 sec.

Please click on images to view full size.

Please also see the previous related SEO posts:

Cash For Trash
Snow Job
Pure Rubbish
One Or The Other

Friday, April 15, 2011

Forgone Formalities

Video below:  April 14, 2011 - Planning Commission members vote   5-0 in favor of clearing the way for big box retail development at the former site of Oakwood Country Club.

Ordinance 763.01: Circumstances justifying amendments; review of amendments. 

Planning commission member Tracie Zamiska makes a few elaborate statements justifying her decision on the Oakwood property. She quoted Ordinance 763.01 as being, “…what we use as our basis and guideline…” referring to the planning commission recommendation to approve the rezoning from R75-residential to C2-commercial. In part, Ordinance 763.01 states any zoning amendment, “…will not be detrimental to the adjacent property owners…”

Oakwood is partially located in an area of South Euclid which results in more abutting properties in Cleveland Heights. It appears any concerns of detriment from those adjacent property owners were not part of the decision making process.

Ms. Zamiska said,” When we were looking at opposition, it primarily did not come from people in our community.” Commission member Jennifer West echoed the same sentiment as part of her evaluation. “I know there’s been quite a bit of opposition, and I’ve also noticed that in that opposition in my estimate, probably 98% of it was from outside our city.”

This could be considered contrary to the objectives of 763.01. Despite claims of similar maneuvers being upheld in court, it could be construed as improper. It doesn’t seem to be in accordance with South Euclid’s “Good Neighbor” policies. 

It was also explained that “spot zoning” is not occurring, but rather, “spot planning” which is taking place in conjunction with the amendment of the city’s Master Plan.  Huh?  Is that to say the Master Plan favored the Oakwood property remaining residential, so they amended it for the developer because he wants it commercial?  Can anyone verify if that’s a fair assessment of what just happened? 

  • time: 12 min. 17 sec.

Please click on image below to view full size.

Video below:  March 10, 2011 – Planning Commission Meeting – A sampling of South Euclid citizens voicing their opposition to rezoning the Oakwood property C2-commercial. 

  • time: 13 min. 20 sec.

Please see the previous related posts:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cash For Trash

Please click on images below to view full size.

Click here to view the above meeting information
at the city website.

Please click to read the online version of the above article at the website, which includes their reader's comments.

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