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Center Ridge, Hilliard among focus areas for 2017 master plan

By Sue Botos

Rocky River

Residents had their first chance to take a peek at the progress being made on an update of the city master plan during a public meeting April 19.

A project team, consisting of city and county officials and a working group of business owners, school district representatives and residents, has been meeting since February under the guidance of the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission to rework the “city road map” which had last been updated in 2005.

“Trends and shifting demographics mean an update was needed,” said Mayor Pam Bobst in her opening comments. “We view the master plan as a guiding document and framework which also attracts investment in the community.”

Glenn Coyne, executive director of the county planning commission, told the audience of about 100 at the Don Umerley Civic Center the commission has been
assisting communities throughout the Cleveland area in designing their guiding documents.

“In the long term, a master plan is about 10 years out, and covers how a community wants to grow and develop,” Coyne elaborated. Areas such as transportation, land use, housing, parks, economic development and business districts are included.

County planner Nicole Laird reviewed the 2005 master plan, noting several of the goals from that document, such as the establishment of a town center (Old River), housing diversity (Beachcliff Row, Brighton Chase) and connectivity (Safe Routes to School) had been met.

Senior planner Patrick Hewitt explained that a survey sent to 1,400 households throughout the city was the first step in a six-step process formulating the new master plan, which also includes examination of current conditions, establishment of a community vision, developing policies to achieve that vision, identification of priorities for improvements, and finalizing a draft.

Highlighting the survey results, Hewlitt said the quality school system was the most commonly cited reason residents chose to live in Rocky River, and maintenance of housing, as well as renovations of existing homes, was an important issue.

In addition, residents did not prioritize more apartment buildings or mixed-use structures, while street improvements were noted as the most important infrastructure need. Hewlitt added that more than half of the respondents cited Center Ridge Road as having the most critical need for improvement and development efforts despite the removal of several blighted structures over the past few years.

“We took this information and started to move into the visioning phase,” said Hewlitt, adding that five focus areas for the master plan were identified: Center Ridge, Downtown River, Detroit Road (to just west of the I-90 ramp intersection), Wooster Road and Hilliard Boulevard.

He noted that each of these areas would be evaluated in four areas: sociability, how well the area connects people; uses and activities, how structures promote activity; access and linkages, how well the space connects to surrounding areas; and comfort and image, the zone’s identification and inviting amenities.

Using Wooster Road as an example, Hewlitt said sociability could be improved with seating areas that took advantage of Rocky River Valley views and usage enhanced by support of neighborhood commercial nodes. He added that access and image could be magnified with improved walking and bike links to the Cleveland Metroparks, more decorative signage and trees.

After the presentation, residents were invited to review poster-sized maps of the focus areas, as well as one of the entire city, which were displayed around the room, and attach notes with their suggestions and concerns or mark trouble spots with stickers.
Coyne said residents can also visit the county’s planning commission website (www.countyplanning.us/projects/rocky-river-master-plan/) to view a PowerPoint of the evening’s presentation, survey results, and findings of the project team and work group so far.

He said both online and in-person feedback would be used to identify common themes which will be translated into policy suggestions and goals.

A public meeting is tentatively scheduled for July, where feedback will be sought for these proposed action steps.

 

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