By Jeff Gallatin
City Council Monday approved placing a proposal for rezoning Cahoon Creek area land on the November ballot to allow for more development, but indicated it wasn’t interested in offering any tax abatements for it at this time.
With council’s approval, the measure now goes to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections for placement on the November ballot. For the rezoning to be approved voters both in Ward 2, where the 2.349 acres of property is located, and the city overall, must approve it. If the proposal fails in either voting group, it does not pass. Council stipulated in passing its rezoning legislation that it only goes into effect if voters approve the change in zoning.
Council also approved Finance Committee Chairman Mike Young’s guidelines as to when any tax abatements or other public incentives might be offered by the city. Young noted that members of the public and other council members have indicated that in both discussion before the meeting and during discussion Monday that they had reservations about offering abatement for the Cahoon Road properties. Young said he would work out a more detailed set of guidelines about tax incentives later, but said the overall guidelines would be that the council would offer abatements only if a property were either undeveloped, underutilized or in distress. The city also would only consider it after state or county incentive options had been explored. He also said the city likely would only consider incentives for commercial property and not residential. He also said council would have to consider whether it falls within the developmental goals of the city master plan.
Both council President Paul Koomar and Young indicated before the meeting that they wanted to make sure residents knew where council stood on the abatement and other incentives issue before they gave final consideration to placing an issue on the November ballot.
Young said afterward having the guidelines for considering incentives in place will benefit the city.
“I wanted to make sure that if we consider any issues like this in the future, we had the guidelines in place to refer (to) for any possible action on any development issues,” he said.
Mayor Debbie Sutherland said afterward she was satisfied with the guidelines Young was setting up.
“It’s a reasonable solution,” she said.
Sutherland said she has a commitment from county officials for up to $15,000 in funding for soil remediation testing if the city decides to move on any residential development of the property.
The legislation was prompted by developer Andrew Brickman and his development firm Abode Living’s proposal to build luxury apartments by Cahoon Creek and the old Shell gas station property. However, city officials have said the rezoning could be utilized by any developer, not just Brickman’s group.
Brickman has said he would not do the project without some form of tax abatement. The developer did not attend Monday’s special council meeting.
During discussion, some residents said they still would prefer a more exact definition of how attached housing is handled in the city before they consider approving any ballot issue.
Law Director Gary Ebert asked Koomar to make sure all the legislation was certified and ready for presentation to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. Ebert said he would be taking the legislation to county officials yesterday (Aug. 6), since the deadline for the issue to be placed on the November ballot is today.