By Jeff Gallatin
A controversial proposal for rezoning Cahoon Road property remained on the November ballot after City Council members made a verbal promise Monday to place a moratorium on developing the property.
Council voted 4-2 to leave the rezoning measure for five parcels of land on the November ballot after considering a proposal that would have pulled it off the ballot until the City Planning Commission sorted out the issue of attached housing pertaining to the property. A key component of the vote was City Council members indicating when verbally polled by council Vice President Mike Young they would put together legislation that would place a moratorium on developing the parcels until the Planning Commission and council sort out the attached housing issue.
Bay Village law director Gary Ebert said Tuesday that he was in the initial stages of gathering the information needed to put together the legislation needed for a moratorium on developing the property. During discussion at Monday’s meeting, council did not indicate what length of time it has in mind for any moratorium, but Young indicated Tuesday he would like to have the legislation ready for the next council meeting.
The issue initially came about in late spring when developer Andrew Brickman made a presentation to City Council and Mayor Debbie Sutherland’s administration indicating he would like to place eco-friendly luxury apartments on the Cahoon Road property. For that to take place, the property would have to be changed from residential to allow for attached housing, an issue that has been discussed for several years in the city.
Council then held several special meetings in July during its normal summer recess to consider whether the rezoning should be placed on the ballot with many residents and council members indicating they were not in favor of granting any tax abatements or other incentives, which Brickman indicated he wanted before he would proceed with any development project. Council ultimately voted to place the rezoning issue on the ballot while also setting up specific guidelines as to when any tax abatements could even be considered by the city. For the rezoning to pass, it will have to be approved by both the residents of Ward 2, where the property is located, and city voters overall.
Since it was placed on the ballot, Planning Commission member Richard Majewski has contended that the rezoning matter was not properly handled and that the city charter indicates it should have been sent first to the Planning Commission. Ebert in turn has said that the matter was dealt with properly and that the Planning Commission has had the necessary input on the issue for it to be placed on the ballot. He added that other charter provisions show the electorate has the decision on any rezoning.
Council President Paul Koomar was absent, so Young ran the meeting. Those voting to keep the issue on the ballot included Dwight Clark, Steve Lee, Clete Miller and Young. Karen Lieske and Dave Tadych voted to take it off the ballot.
Afterwards, both Tadych and Lieske both said they respected Ebert’s opinion, but felt the issue should have been sent to the planning commission. But, Miller, himself a former planning commission member, indicated he believes Ebert is right and that the matter has been handled properly. Young said the compromise is a key and that he will be looking to see what the planning commission and Lee, who is chairman of council’s planning and zoning committee, say about the issue after it is given further consideration. Young said he expects further discussion about what the attached housing will entail and said he would like whatever stipulations are set up to work within the guidelines of a city master plan.
During public comment, Dino Lustri, who owns much of the property involved in the rezoning, asked council to consider the impact upon him and his family. He indicated that if the rezoning was taken off the ballot, it would be at least another year before there is any resolution of the issue, which affects what he can do with the property. Susan Fink said that the matter has become more and more convoluted to the public when seeing how council has been dealing with the issue.
Mayor Debbie Sutherland said nothing on the issue during the discussion, but reiterated before the meeting her concerns about placing the issue on the ballot, while indicating her belief that no major development in current economic conditions can proceed without some sort of public investment, be it a tax abatement, paying for related soil testing or some sort of assistance from the public sector.