City Planning Commission/Board of Zoning Appeals, October 2018

October 24th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Zoning Appeals & City Planning Commission
Oct. 2, 2018

Members present: Council member Robert Zimmerman, Mayor David Weiss (chair); citizen members John J. Boyle III, Kevin Dreyfuss-Wells, Joanna Ganning
Also present: Senior Planner Dan Feinstein, Director of Planning Joyce Braverman Law Director William Gruber

The meeting was called to order by Mayor Weiss at 7 p.m. Minutes of the Sept. 6, 2018. meeting were approved.

Board of Zoning Appeals

Swerve Grille, 20126–28 Chagrin Boulevard

 Public hearing at the request of Sheldon Goodson, Swerve Grille, for a 20-space parking variance to expand the existing restaurant and variance to the fence requirements in order to install an ornamental metal fence around the outdoor dining area on Chagrin Boulevard.

Since Mayor Weiss has a business on the block, he left the meeting to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest, appointing Mr. Zimmerman chair.

There were a number of people in attendance, some of whom began speaking before the hearing began, so Mr. Zimmerman explained the process: presentation of appeal, rationales by applicant, discussion, public hearing, deliberation, and then vote.

Staff recommended approving the fence but not the parking variance for the following reasons, among others: 1) the existing parking is shared with another business and there is no available on-street parking or nearby public parking lot; 2) the rear parking lot is very close to single family residences; 3) numerous neighbors have complained about the loud noise during late night hours by calling the Shaker Heights Police Department; 4) there is also a history of nuisance, noise, and suspicious and criminal activity calls to the police; and 5) the parking variance would be detrimental to the public welfare and injurious to property in the neighborhood.

Mr. Zimmerman opened the public hearing.

A representative from the police department discussed the 37 calls for help regarding Swerve Grille in 2017 and 2018, as well as letters from residents and business owners regarding noise, garbage, and safety. The owners of the property related that it took days to learn of problems at the address and that they discussed them with the tenant, who has tried to solve them. The owners then explained the parking situation for the five contiguous buildings on the lot, each with a separate parking area, and spoke of their long-standing residence and commitment to the City of Shaker Heights. The tenant then apologized for the problems and stated that the restaurant is committed to resolving them. Four neighbors and a business owner spoke of the noise (especially after hours), crowded parking lot, garbage tossed over fences into backyards, and conversations/arguments that created issues of personal safety in the parking lot. The panel suggested that the Shaker Heights Development Corporation and Van Aken District could help the owners/tenant resolve the problems, and the owners/tenant agreed to cooperate with the neighbors and city offices.

Mr. Goodson then requested an indefinite continuation of the public hearing while he, his staff, and the building’s owners meet with neighbors and with SHDC and VAD to resolve the noise, parking, garbage, and safety issues.

Mr. Zimmerman announced the continuation of the public hearing.

Van Aken District, C-4 Market Hall building

Public hearing at the request of Jason Russell, RMS Development Corp., Van Aken District Market Hall building, for a variance to the number of primary signs in order to locate a wall sign on the Warrensville Center Road side of the C-4 Market Hall building in the Van Aken District.

Staff suggested approval with the condition that the Architectural Board of Review approves the final design.

The mayor opened the public hearing.

Mr. Russell stated that the Market Hall is a signature feature of the development, and that it has been redesigned inside and out. Code limits this building to three signs, and RMS proposed a fourth primary wall sign. RMS considered approaches other than signs to publicize the Market Hall, a new idea for the region, and discarded them. After studying the possibility of a mural for the east elevation, they determined signage would be less distracting. The applicant wants the sign to be legible from a distance for both pedestrians and motorists.

The Architectural Board of Review approved the sign design at their Sept. 17, 2018, meeting with the following conditions and recommendations:

  1. Investigate the possibility of the arrow heads being larger
  2. With the recommendation that lighting be added to increase the visibility of this sign
  3. With the recommendation that the language at the arrow be geared toward the function of the uses inside the building
  4. Submit a site plan and include the Brassica signage on the Warrensville elevation

The panel unanimously approved the additional sign, citing the Architectural Board’s conditions and recommendations.

City Planning Commission

Cleveland Clayworks, 3445 Warrensville Center Road

Public hearing at the request of Cynthia Warren of Cleveland Clayworks for a Conditional Use Permit to locate a specialized instructional school for a ceramic arts studio and class space in Christ Episcopal Church, and a parking variance.

Staff suggests approval of the Conditional Use Permit and parking variance.

The mayor opened the public hearing.

Cynthia Warren said they have been in business for 40 years. Previously located in the basement of the Coventry Library building, the school/studio must now move since the library needs that space. They have found a potential home for a school/studio at Christ Episcopal Church, in the space previously occupied by Verb Ballets. Code requires 33 parking spaces for such use, and Clayworks estimates using fewer than 20 spots at a time. Further, the school/studio will most likely not be busy at the times the church holds services and events. The potential for a fire because of the electric kiln was raised and then discussed by Cleveland Clayworks staff. The fire hazard issue was dismissed because the site will be inspected by city safety officials. The executive director of the church spoke in favor of the proposal.

The board approved both the Conditional Use Permit and parking variance, citing similar use of the building in the past by Verb Ballets and that the use will not interfere with surrounding development or cause traffic congestion because of the hours of operation and limited number of cars using the parking lot.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m. Because of the general election on Nov. 6, the next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 13, 2018.
Barbara Bradley

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