By Jeff Gallatin
City Council President Paul Koomar wants to give residents a clearer view tax abatements.
At a special meeting Monday night, council amended and moved to second reading next week legislation that would allow attached housing on Cahoon Road properties on which developer Andrew Brickman has said he would like to place luxury apartments. The amendment added another parcel of land city officials described as a sliver of land located next to the properties that were already contained in the legislation that could provide a buffer area. If council approves the legislation on three readings and gets it to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections by Aug. 7, it would go on the November 2013 ballot for voter approval. Once there, it would have to be approved by both the residents of Ward 2, where the property is located, and city voters overall.
Both during the meeting and afterward, Koomar noted that many of the approximately 50 residents who attended and others are more concerned about whether the city will decide to grant a tax abatement to Brickman or any other person or group if they obtain the properties to develop them.
“We’ve heard from many people tonight and before the meeting expressing concern about abatement and whether we would grant it,” Koomar said.
“We’ve already done a little research on it as a council to see what other cities are doing and we’ve found that some do it, but we’ve found neighbors like Rocky River who aren’t granting any abatements and Westlake, which has granted abatements for commercial property, but not for residential.”
Koomar and other city officials noted that abatement is a separate issue from the rezoning proposal, but said he still wants council to give residents a better idea of how council stands on the issue by the time the rezoning legislation is decided.
“We need to have a discussion on that as a council,” he said, saying he’d like to have it if possible within the next two special council meetings, which were tentatively planned for July 22 and either July 29 or Aug. 5.
Mayor Debbie Sutherland was at a long-planned family gathering and was not at Monday’s meeting. When contacted Tuesday morning, she reiterated her view that public investment of some kind in any major development project is needed in the current economic climate.
During the meeting, residents brought up concerns to Brickman and city officials about the potential impact on traffic, the environment and the neighborhood.