Planning/Zoning, January 2019

January 24th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Jan. 8, 2019

Members Present: David Weiss, mayor and chair; Councilman Rob Zimmerman; citizen members John Boyle, Kevin Dreyfuss-Wells, Joanna Ganning

Others Present: Joyce Braverman, Director of Planning; Dan Feinstein, Senior Planner; William Gruber, Director of Law

Mayor Weiss called the meeting to order at 7 p.m. The agenda for this meeting and supporting documents may be found here.

The minutes of the Dec. 4, 2018, meeting were approved. 

Supporting Documents: 17420 Fernway

The City Planning Commission reviewed a proposal to renovate the fire-damaged school, including replacing the roof, adding a two-story addition to include additional classroom space and an elevator; a one-story rear addition off the gymnasium for storage space; and a second-floor infill addition for a library and other resource rooms. Presented by Chris Dewey, Van Auken Akins Architects, on behalf of the Shaker Heights School District, the plan represents only the building, not all the planned site work as it may change due to fundraising efforts. The Phase 2 overview (full plan to be presented at a later date) includes a larger lawn area, additional parking, and a drop-off zone. There were no public comments. The plan was approved.

Supporting Documents: 2920 Drummond

Chris Kontur, CPK Construction, on behalf of Robert and Beth Gillespie, requested a rear-yard setback variance to add a two-car garage so the existing garage could be converted to living space. The new garage has a 26-foot 8-inch set-back, while code requires 40 feet. It was noted that many garages in the neighborhood already have set-back variances, and the homeowner’s affected neighbor has no objection. Staff supports the variance. There were no public comments. The variance was approved.

Supporting Documents: 20975 Claythorne

Michael Beightol, Exscape Designs, on behalf of Rick and Kate Blaszak, requested a variance to pool regulations. Regulations require 4 feet of decking on each side of the pool. The resident requests a variance to 30 inches on two of the sides, one with additional shrubs, one with pavers in the lawn. There were no public comments. The variance was approved.

Supporting Documents: 3396 Tuttle

Brian Meng, Bialosky Cleveland, representing RMS Investments, requested a variance in the commercial zoning design standards to change the entryway on the east end of the building to be accessible to but not facing Farnsleigh, per the original standards. The change is needed because the tenancy of the eastern half of the building has changed. The corner entry is now the primary customer entry of the second-floor tenant and does not access the first-floor tenant. The proposed door accesses only an elevator and stairway to the second floor. The primary entrance for the first-floor tenant (Green House Tavern) will remain on the façade facing into the District and will be easily accessible from both Farnsleigh and Tuttle roads. The representative also sought variance for a similar change to the west end of the building, anticipating a similar tenancy situation.


Mr. Boyle expressed considerable disappointment that the entry would not face the main street (Farnsleigh) which was counter to the zoning ideal of creating a welcoming face to the main street. Mr. Meng responded that the entryway would have a strong canopy and visual branding impact, and the positioning would also be more visible to people passing through the Van Aken District on Tuttle Road or shopping in other areas of the District. It was also noted that the doorway would serve patrons and wait staff using the patio seating of the first-floor restaurant tenant. There were no public comments.

The variance request for the east end of the building was approved. The request for the west end of the building was withdrawn.

Supporting Documents: 3663 Lee

This was a continuation of the hearing for Donqualla Hale-Peterson, Lee Road Learning Center, requesting a parking variance to open a child daycare center. It was continued for the applicant to address parking and playground issues. Code requires 10 parking spaces, and the applicant proposed sharing spaces with nearby businesses but didn’t have a written agreement. In addition, the facility has a dumpster with a 6-foot wooden enclosure, while code requires a brick fence. Another topic of discussion had been that the new center would not have an onsite playground, which is required by the state, though use of nearby playgrounds at other daycare centers owned by Ms. Hale-Peterson would meet the standards.

Ms. Hale-Peterson reviewed the situation, and also explained that a shared-parking agreement had been reached with the neighboring businesses, though they hadn’t yet signed the official agreement. It was noted that other businesses in the area have wooden dumpster enclosures.

Mr. Boyle expressed concern that the center may be in violation of state rules concerning the lack of an onsite outdoor play space. His interpretation of the statute is that if there isn’t outdoor space, the center may use nearby outdoor space but must also have an indoor space. When the required play-space footage is added to the minimum required per student space, the current building is not large enough. Mr. Gruber reviewed the rule during the session and tentatively agreed with Mr. Boyle’s interpretation. A representative of the Center responded that her understanding was that either access to a nearby play area or an indoor play area met state requirements. Mr. Gruber said he needed to do a closer reading of the rules and research.

The public hearing was opened. Nick Fedor of the Shaker Heights Development Corp. spoke against the variance because there is already a lack of parking in the Lee Road business zone. Lawrence Crump, who owns the barbershop next to the Center, confirmed that he had reached a verbal agreement to share parking because their customer busy times do not overlap and stays are of short duration. Craig Stout, who owns businesses on Lee Road, objected to the Center because the district already has a number of daycare centers and needs more diversity of businesses. Mayor Weiss read an email from Tommy Farmer, another Lee Road businessperson, who objected. Willie Peterson, wife of the owner, noted that there are a number of empty buildings on Lee Road and plenty of room for other kinds of businesses to move in.

The board decided to continue the hearing, allowing time to clarify state rules about onsite indoor play areas if there is no onsite outdoor play area and to create a written full parking plan.

Supporting Documents: 16720 Chagrin

James Marr, Master Marr’s Taekwon-do, 16720 Chagrin Blvd., requested a Conditional Use Permit for a specialized instructional school and a variance to parking requirements. The applicant wishes to relocate the existing studio to a retail space three buildings to the east. A parking variance is required since code requires 50 parking spaces.They currently have four on-street parking spaces plus a shared public parking lot of 123 spaces behind the building. 

During the public comment session, Nick Fedor, of the Shaker Heights Development Corp., spoke in favor of approval. The measure was approved.

Supporting Documents: 2600 South Park

Jodi McCue, Environmental Design Group, on behalf of the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, requested approval for improvements to the All People’s Trail. The new trail is essentially the same layout and includes the wood boardwalk and a trailhead feature, as well as a pergola and gazebo on the boardwalk platform. A height variance is required for the gazebo, which will be 16 feet tall, 1 foot above the code maximum of 15 foot. Staff approved the request.

Mr. Gruber asked what role Cleveland Heights has in the approval, since the Center is on the border of the two cities. Mr. Feinstein clarified that Cleveland Heights wants Shaker to approve the building; they will review signage. Mr. Boyle asked if the changes would improve access for those with disabilities; applicant responded yes. There were no public comments. The request was approved.

The meeting was adjourned. The next meeting will be Feb. 5.

Lynn Lilly

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