CITY OF ROCKY RIVER
SEPTEMBER 20, 2004
The Committee-of-the-Whole was called to order by Mrs. Bobst, President of Council, at 8:00 p.m.
Council Members Present: Mr. Gollinger, Mr. Potterfield, Mr. Frost, Mrs. Bartolozzi,
Mr. Hagan, Mrs. Bobst
Absent: Mr. Hurtuk
Administration: Mayor Knoble, Mr. Linden, Mr. Thomas, Mr. Koran
Assistant Law Director: Mr. Hotz
Press: Mr. Kelley, Mrs. McKenzie
The meeting was opened with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Before regular Council business, Mrs. Bobst welcomed three former Council members, Mr. Ken Meisner, Mr. Robert Frost, and Mrs. Sue Butler who were present with fellow members of the Parks and Recreation Foundation Board, Mr. Dave Adams, Ms. Molly Stinn, Mr. Larry Gilbert, Mr. Jack McGreevey and Mr. Mike Patterson. She then turned the meeting over to Rick Squire, President of the Board, who introduced the Board and then thanked Huntington Bank, and particularly its representative present this evening, Debbie Burke, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations. Mr. Squire and members of the Board presented the Mayor with a check for $20,000, the proceeds of the second annual Hole-in-One Shootout. He thanked Huntington Bank, the title sponsors, and noted that the proceeds were earmarked to upgrade Rocky River Park. Both the Mayor and Mrs. Bobst thanked the Board and Huntington for its commitment to the City and its efforts on our behalf.
Mrs. Bobst then turned to Mr. Koran, the City's Economic and Community Development Director, for introductory remarks to the presentation of the proposed Master Plan. Mr. Koran commented that this was an exciting night both for him and for the residents, since it marked the presentation of a soon-to-be adopted Master Plan update, the culmination of 18 months of hard work. He introduced members of the Master Plan Working Group, Ms. Tricia Brown, Mr. John Selby, Mr. Craig Wright, Mr. Eric Pempus, Mr. Kevin Collins, Mr. Mike Fruchey, and Mr. Tom Long. He cited their professional achievements and added that this was a most outstanding group of volunteers who faithfully attended meetings of the group. He also thanked members of the Economic and Community Development Advisory Board who were invited to meetings and added their input: Ms. Joyce Gray, Ms. Kathleen Goepfert, Ms. Gloria Hardington, Mr. Mark Rantala, Mr. Tom Stafford and Mr. Paul Gallagher. In addition to these citizens, other residents contributed by their comments at public meetings. Mr. Koran asserted that this was a Master Plan prepared by residents. At a series of very well-attended focus meetings, residents voiced their opinions and asked questions about the plan. These comments were recorded and used to fine-tune the plan. Recommendations were taken seriously, e.g. mixed use and historic districts, parking lot solutions, special improvement districts, more code enforcement, and addressing of the City's 29% rental housing units. Recommendations include enforcement of the Code and of architectural guidelines, redevelopment ideas and elimination of the Marion ramp. An overall theme of increased pedestrian friendly areas and encouragement of landscaping which would create a more walkable community came from residents.
Mr. Paul Volpe of City Architecture, then made a power point presentation summarizing some of the highlights from the Master Plan. Mr. Volpe, too, stressed that the plan was based upon discussions and comments from residents. The function of the consultant was to encourage comment, and to organize and record, but he emphasized that this plan was the result of collaboration with people who care about the City.
His first point was "Why a city Master Plan?" He stated that this provides an illustrative guide and flexible tool with which Rocky River can identify its resources, strengths, challenges, and which can help the City to move forward in accordance with the values expressed by its residents.
After a brief review of the City's demographics, Mr. Volpe moved to a determination by the Task Force of the City's planning values. These would provide a general basis to set a course for future development.
He cited the following:
Next in the presentation was a consideration of nine focus areas: Detroit Road, Wooster Road, Hilliard Blvd, Center Ridge East and West, the Yacht Club Basin, and taken as a whole, Old Detroit, Middle Detroit and Linda Street. For each area, Mr. Volpe displayed discussion ideas and a listing of what needs to be done so that the area can reach its maximum potential.
Final points were city-wide recommendations. The plan should be used to help decide zoning issues and to help City boards to do their jobs better. The goal is to improve the quality of life in the community and it never ends.
Mrs. Bobst thanked the consultant and all the members of the community who helped in the process. She noted that this is on Council's legislative agenda and she encouraged public comment at the next legislative meeting. She then called upon Council members for comments.
Mr. Potterfield noted that he had submitted a list of comments to the Council President. He said that in the plan, areas of super density are recommended, which he compared to putting 10 pounds in a 5-pound sack. The plan concentrated on business areas, but this is a suburb made up of people who are trying to leave the main city. In the development of the business areas, he asked what happens to the side streets. He cited page 107 which shows Center Ridge Road with 3 lanes, which it has never had. He said there were some good ideas in the plan, but he would like homeowners in the area and on its perimeters to get involved and look at the drawings. He felt there was limited input and would like to see more participation by residents who live next to the nine focus areas.
Mr. Potterfield asked if any traffic studies had been done. Secondly, he noted that Astor Place is the only completed project. He said that the proposed Hamlet development would add a total of more than 35 units which replaces 9 single family homes currently on the properties. This is a large increase in density.
Mrs. Bobst commented that the plan is not done in isolation, but must be seen as part of the development of the region. She asked Mr. Volpe about page 111, in City-wide Recommendations,
where the plan "remains an enforceable document that informs how the city will deal with growth." She wondered about implementation of enforceability. "Enforceability" can be on many levels.
Mr. Frost said that he understands the consultant's points about the larger vision for the City, but he expressed concern for specific recommendations. For example, at the entrance to I-90 on Hilliard, commercial development in the form of offices is recommended for consideration. He wondered if the next step is for Council to rezone the area to office to encourage projects. When projects are proposed, changes can be made to make the project appropriate for the location. He cited Astor Place as an example where ingress and egress concerns of the residents were addressed and a compromise reached so that everyone's concerns were met. So if a rezoning is done to encourage a certain type of development, the City can then look at individual projects as they arise.
A more difficult option would be to rezone. Another would be for the City to show the plan to a developer so that a developer could see that the City is in favor of office use at this location, for example. Our current plan is one of laissez faire, but the Master Plan could be used as a tool to encourage the type of development the City would like to see.
Mr. Frost also asserted his interest in the Yacht Club Basin and the residents that he represents. He noted that there were few recommendations and those were to preserve what exists. He said he would like more public input from that area in particular. He asked about the proposed time-table and whether that would permit time to take the plan to neighborhoods as suggested by the Law Director. This would allow comments, positive and negative, to hone and refine the plan before adoption.
Mr. Gollinger indicated that there could be problems with office buildings on Hilliard and they may not have space to meet parking or other requirements.
Mr. Gollinger asked if there was realtor input for the 300-500 new units that could be created under the plan.
Mr. Gollinger asked if the pocket parks and access to the river are critical elements in the plan. He pointed out that the City has an excellent park system and it is adjacent to the Metroparks where there is ample access to the river.
Mr. Hagan asked if flexibility in the document is lost when Code changes are made, updating it to implement the plan.
Referring to Old Detroit, Middle Detroit and Linda, Mr. Volpe said, "This is not the plan." People see the drawings and say that is the plan. It is representative of what the plan aspires to do. There is a difference between envisioning and proposing, and the area does not have to be developed like this. That is a way of envisioning how it could be in accordance with values. The physical plan will evolve. It may be created by a developer; as a result of the planning effort, developers may get together and develop their own plan which looks different from what is in the document but if it is consistent with what we aspire to, then we have accomplished what we set out to do.
Mr. Hagan concluded that this insight changes Council's job, and scales it back. This plan is a concept of what can happen, rather than a blueprint of what we are going to do.
Mrs. Bartolozzi said that as she understands it, the task for Council in approving the Master Plan is not approval of specific projects, but conceptual ideas of the direction in which Council feels the City should move. This is a snapshot of where we want to go today, but five years from now, another snapshot may need to be taken. The ideas are important, but not the specifics. She also asked about the benefits of a mixed use zoning.
Mrs. Bartolozzi noted that the quantity of such development is important.
Mr. Frost said he had no problem with the plan, but was having difficulty with discussions with residents. We have a residential community. We have a plan that deals with commercial property, and residential is different. He wondered how to explain this and how it helps us to residents. Why would a focus on the 9 areas help residents?
Mr. Frost feels that people need to be reassured that this does not mean moving and expanding mixed use and multi-family zonings to residential areas. Core commercial areas are essential, however, for the tax base.
Mrs. Bobst noticed that in the Old Detroit-Linda area, there is a transition area proposed between the commercial and the residential which can make use of a mixed use zoning.
Mr. Hagan commented that in the recommendations, maintenance of housing stock is an important element. This requires enforcement of the Code.
Mrs. Bobst added that the average home age in Rocky River is 44 years.
Mr. Potterfield mentioned that he would like to hold ward meetings after the Planning Commission presentation of October 19, in keeping with the recommendations of the Law Director. He proposed that the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee hold a series of four meetings and volunteered to draft agendas for committee consideration of wards and focus areas. This will be held for comment by the Law Director regarding sequential tracks versus parallel tracks.
Mr. Koran reported on the dissemination of the report. The library has 3 copies. By the end of this week, the entire document will be on the website.
Before the Mayor's report, Mayor Knoble asked if any Council members had questions on the bond material distributed by the Finance Director. As there were none, the Mayor proceeded.
At next week's meeting of the Contracts Committee, held to discuss centralized fire dispatch, the Mayor has invited the Fire Chiefs of Rocky River and Westlake, Chief Flynn and Chief Pietrick, to help discuss the issue.
Rumors have been circulating about Dillard's since the consolidation of their two stores at Westgate. The Mayor said that he had no inside information, and that the move had been planned for some time.
Bids are being received for the Police Department's sidearm conversion from 9mm pistols to Glock 40 caliber handguns. The change will be done at minimal cost because the City owns two fully automatic assault weapons which each command $6500 in trade-in value. The Mayor favors this change to take advantage of increased technology.
Two separate meetings have been held with cellular phone companies about constructing a cell tower in the City's complex. This will help residents who reside in "dead spots" without good cell reception where many calls are dropped. Unfortunately, towers are the only answer. The drawback is their appearance. The Mayor feels they will be the least obtrusive in the City's complex. At the same time, the Police Department tower will be taken down. Before this can be pursued, the Law Director has stated that Council must amend the Code to permit a cell tower within a public facility.
The Mayor said that he is following the Law Director's instructions. The Mayor is interested because of enhanced reception for the residents and the Police Department and as a bonus, up to $30,000 in rental income. The base would measure about 6' in diameter.
It was decided that the Administration would pursue a variance, but if that proves unworkable, would still proceed.
The Mayor attended the very enjoyable 25th anniversary celebration of Meals on Wheels held at Our Savior's Church. The program serves 40 to 50 people per day. A professional cook prepares the meals and volunteers package and deliver them. The enthusiastic volunteers raised funds to rehabilitate the kitchen.
Mayor Knoble has also had a meeting with representatives of the Board of Elections relative to holding voting sites in schools. Further discussions will be necessary. The Mayor was also pleased to discover that Mr. Vu, the Director of the Board, will shortly move to Rocky River.
Along with Mr. Linden and Mr. Koran, the Mayor met with ODOT to review projects such as Center Ridge, Lake Road, I-90 sound barriers, the bridge on Wooster, and Marion ramp dismantling.
The Mayor attended the Community Challenge Open House at their new offices on Center Ridge. He thought they may be slightly less accessible, but the new offices are very functional.
On Friday, he attended a seminar on Quiet Zones.
Regarding the situation on Shoreland Avenue, Inspector Pat Nugent along with Commissioner Beirne have prepared documentation of things done and not done. This is a difficult situation.
Good construction weather has resulted in progress in the Bates/Orchard Park area. Curbs were being poured over the weekend.
The Mayor responded that there was a waterline break on Orchard Park. It happened in the old waterline which has not yet been disconnected.
His other comments concerned last week's situation on Shoreland Avenue. He has been involved from the beginning, having been called by both the Helleises and the Hickeys. He reserved his comments last week because the Hickeys were not present. He indicated that delays in construction projects by the Hickeys have been initiated by complaints made by Mr. and Mrs. Helleis. Those concerns were addressed by the BZA. When taken over by the Hickeys, the house had a cracked strip driveway and sidewalk. They chose to upgrade and replace both, but complaints by their neighbors delayed the project. Mr. Gollinger has seen Mr. Hickey's other properties and said that he is a good property owner and maintains his properties. He said that both neighbors are very strong willed, and he is willing to abide by what the Administration sees fit. He would like to see the work completed, and he hoped that these remarks tempered information from last week.
The Mayor said that ODOT's project is strictly mill and fill. Anything beyond that is the responsibility of the City.
Ordinances No. 84-05, 85-05, 86-05 and 87-05: These ordinances establish drive-through service businesses. They are currently on the agenda for tomorrow's meeting of the Planning Commission. Mr. Potterfield is hopeful that sufficient Council or public input will allow this to move.
Resolution No. 91-04: Mr. Hagan reported that this ordinance remains on hold with no additional information available.
Ordinances No. 115-04 and 116-04: These ordinance would rezone City property on Lake Road. No new information is yet available for these ordinances.
Resolution No. 133-04: This resolution adopts the Master Plan.
Ordinance No. 134-04: This issue, the central fire dispatch center, will be discussed at Mr. Hagan's committee meeting next week at 7:00 p.m. Fire Chiefs Flynn and Pietrick will be in attendance.
MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS: NONE
The Parks and Recreation Commission: Mrs. Bobst reported that the Commission met last Wednesday morning. Among topics discussed were the artificial turf use by City programs. We have 14 flag football teams using the turf for practice and for games.
Among other statistics, the City currently has 42 volleyball teams at the Rec Center. Dodgeball is also being played. Pool attendance was down about 3000, at 25,651. This may be attributable to the weather. Revenue is about the same as last year. Over 1000 students participated in summer swim lessons and over 500 in fall soccer. Finally 110 dogs attended the pool party and over $200 was raised.
Environmental Committee: Mr. Gollinger called a meeting of his committee for October 4 at 7:00 p.m. to finalize rental properties.
Safety Committee: Mr. Frost reported that the signs recommended by theWorking Group on Animal Control Laws will be up shortly. Mr. Frost will check in with Dr. Parraga, the Chair of the committee to bring some closure to the committee and work out a timeline for their recommendations to the Safety Committee. Updates will follow.
Ordinance No. 135-04: This ordinance will authorize the purchase of a loader backhoe. Mrs. Bartolozzi noted that there is a good trade-in amount, and the equipment is being purchased at a lower price through the State Cooperative Purchasing Act. Mr. Linden added that this piece of equipment is used daily by the sewer department and is 10 years old. It has been in need of replacement for some time, and has been included in the budget. Mrs. Bartolozzi asked that the ordinance be placed on the Consent Agenda.
Ordinance No. 136-04: This ordinance authorizes the sale of a pumper no longer usable by the Fire Department. This bid, though only $3000, is the best received. This ordinance, too, will be on the Consent Agenda.
COMMUNICATIONS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS: NONE
As there was no further business by members of Council, the meeting was adjourned at
Pamela E. Bobst Misao Kurokawa
President of Council Clerk of Council
Please note: This is a draft copy of the minutes of the Committee-of-the-Whole of September 20, 2004. These minutes may be amended or revised at the next Legislative Meeting.