City Planning Commission/Board of Zoning Appeals, May 7, 2019

June 4th, 2019  |  Published in Uncategorized

Members Present: Mayor and Chair David Weiss; Council Member Ron Zimmerman; Citizen Members John J. Boyle, Kevin Dreyfus-Wells, and Joanna Ganning

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

The agenda for this meeting may be found here:

The meeting was recorded and the audio is available here:

The meeting Mayor Weiss called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

The minutes of the April 2, 2019 meeting were approved without comment and are available here:

Since there were many new faces among the visitors, Mayor Weiss told the assembled group the format for these meetings: the hearings start with a report from staff, applicants then typically provide more information, board asks questions of both applicant and staff, then the hearing is opened for public content. He assured the group that there would be plenty of time for their comments.

Board of Zoning Appeals

Mendell Residence, 2676 Cranlyn Road:

Public Hearing on the request of Stuart Mendel, 2676 Cranlyn Road, for a variance to the fence location and height regulations on a corner lot. The applicant proposes to install a 4-foot-tall black aluminum ornamental fence that will connect to an existing wire fence on the Calverton side of this corner lot at Cranlyn and Calverton Roads, but Code allows only a 3-foot-tall fence on a corner side yard. Code requires that fences located in corner side yards not extend in front of the setback line of the principle building on the adjacent lot. The fence is proposed to be located 36 feet off the Calverton Road sidewalk, but the adjacent house on Calverton Road is set back 48 feet. The area around the fence is a mature garden planted with a variety of existing shrubs and trees, which will remain to screen the fence from street view. Additional evergreen bushes are proposed to further screen the fence and rear yard. Staff supports the fence location and height variances.

The applicant, Mr. Mendel, said he and his wife had moved to the house in 2016 and discovered that the neighborhood had lots of dogs. The fence is meant to contain the family’s two dogs and keep other dogs out of the yard. There is a temporary fence there now that you cannot see, and plantings (six burning bush plants spaces with others) are planned to keep the permanent fence hidden. Mr. Zimmerman comments that he lives in the neighborhood. that there are many dogs, and that he understands the need for a barrier for their dogs to not get out of the yard. There are other corner lot fences similar to this one that provide precedent in the neighborhood.

There were no comments during the public hearing. The board had no further questions and a vote was taken. The panel unanimously approved the fence location and height variances with the condition that a final landscape plan be approved by staff.

Supporting documents are here:

Choi Residence, 3554 Riedam Road:

Public Hearing on the request of Connie Choi, 3554 Riedham Road, for a variance to the location and setback requirements for air-conditioning condenser units. The applicant proposes to locate two such units in the side yard (the property is a 2-family residence), located 2 feet from the side property line. The existing side yard is 5 feet wide. Code requires that air-conditioning condenser units in a side yard be located only in side yards measuring a minimum of 25 feet wide and be screened by a solid wood fence or evergreen vegetation. Rather than using evergreen shrubs to screen the units from the street, the applicant proposes a solid wood gate, which goes with the other treatments there; the back of the neighbor’s garage screens the area from the side. The units meet the maximum 76-decibel sound limit. Staff supports the location of the 2 air-conditioning condenser units and setback variances.

There were no comments during the public hearing. The panel unanimously approved the location and setback variances for the air-conditioning condenser units with the obligation of continuing to meet the city’s noise ordinance.

Supporting documents are here:

Hathaway Brown School, 19600 North Park Boulevard:

Public Hearing on the request of Craig Cawrse, CT Consultants, representing Hathaway Brown School, 19600 North Park Boulevard, for variances to the parking lot location, landscape setback, parking space width, and the accessory structure location requirements. The applicant proposes to construct a new soccer field and parking lot along South Park Boulevard, additional parking in the Courtland parking lot, and a new maintenance structure. In addition, 3 tennis courts will be relocated. The new South Park Boulevard parking lot will be located 5 feet 3 inches off the sidewalk, and the extended Courtland parking lot will be set back 14 feet from the sidewalk; Code, however, requires a 25-foot landscape setback around an institutional property. Evergreen shrubs, trees, and mounding are proposed to screen the parking lots. The spaces in the new parking lots are proposed to be 8 feet 6 inches in width, but Code requires a minimum 9-foot-wide parking space. A new maintenance structure is proposed adjacent to the dumpster loading area on the Courtland side of the building, which is in the front yard and set back 40 feet from the property line, but Code allows an accessory structure only in the rear yard. All the land surrounding Hathaway Brown school is considered front yard. Evergreen trees and shrubs are proposed to screen the structure from the street view. Staff supports the parking lot location, landscape setback, parking space width, and accessory structure location variances, with several conditions and review by the architectural board.

The head of school, Dr. Fran Bisselle, related a bit of Hathaway Brown’s history in Shaker Heights (here since 1927) and that students currently number 380 and faculty/staff 200. She pointed out that students, faculty/staff, board members, parents, and neighbors were all in attendance at this hearing. This is the first part of a master plan that is intended to address some issues of an aging structure as well as developing institution, although there are no plans to grow. The school wants to athletic fields for lacrosse, field hockey, and soccer so children do not have to be bussed to Ursuline College for practices. They would like to create an additional 93 safe parking spaces to accommodate students; students and faculty/staff do not park in the same places—where you park partially depends on the entrance you use. The school wants to be a good neighbor, steward of its land, and a safe school. In maximizing its footprint, it understands the limitations. They have had an open house for neighbors to see plan and raise concerns/problems and have addressed some of those concerns.

During the public hearing five neighbors who live on North Park or Sherbrook Road objected to the loss of green space in both proposed parking lots, but especially replacing the public land at the Sherbrooke and North Park triangle with an unsightly parking lot proposed; the closeness of that parking area to Doan Brook; and the possibility that property values will decrease as a result. There was discussion of underground parking and/or a parking structure, both of which Dr. Bisselle said were prohibitively expensive. The architects said construction would take place over a two-year period so as not to interfere unduly with school activities.

After a good deal of back and forth between the panel members and the architects and head of school about elements of the master plan, the panel unanimously approved the parking lot location, landscape setback, parking space width, and accessory structure location variances with the following conditions: the South Park parking lot be revised to be no closer to the South Park Boulevard sidewalk than the proposed parking space adjacent to the east side of the driveway; the loop pick-up entry to the natatorium parking lot be eliminated; staff review and approval of a revised landscape plan and tree survey, the parking lot light fixture (to ensure a shielded fixture), and the parking lot lighting in the South Park Boulevard lot turn off at the end of school activities; the Architectural Board of Review approve the storage structure design.

Supporting documents are here:

City Planning Commission

Shaker Heights Country Club, Parkland Drive:

Continuation of a Public Hearing on the request of Rob Myers, Myers homes, representing Shaker Heights Country Club, Parkland Drive, for a subdivision of land and an amendment to the zoning map to create two single-family lots. The case was continued at the July 11, 2018 meeting to review the impact of regulations regarding the Doan Brook watershed, including the location of the flood plain and other environmental conditions on the property. The two proposed single-family parcels are each more than one acre in size at the western end of their property on the north side of Parkland Drive, at the intersection with Attleboro Road. The new parcels are proposed to be rezoned from the PR Parks and Recreation zoning district to SF-1 Single Family Residential zoning district. The club intends to sell the two new lots for individual single-family construction. This request requires Council action. Staff supports the rezoning and subdivision of land, with several conditions including no on-site organic material storage, a maintenance and access agreement for Doan Brook, and a conservation easement held by a third party and recorded on the plats.

The president of Shaker Heights Country Club, Lee Weingart, said the plan has three benefits: the city will gain income tax and the schools property tax; the contaminated soil on-site will be removed and replaced; the storage tanks for gas on-site will be removed. It is privately held land that is available to be used. The Country Club provides a public service. Unlike any other golf clubs in the area, it does not ask visitors to leave, and runners, walkers, and dog walkers are on the golf course year-round and skiers when there is snow. The Shaker Heights Country Club is a community asset and also a friend and partner of the community.

The panel asked questions and learned that, like any other infill home proposed within the city, the design will be reviewed by the Architectural Board of Review and site plan and any variances will be reviewed by the Board of Zoning Appeals and City Planning Commission. Mr. Gruber clarified that a conservation easement on the property, required by Code, will preclude development anywhere close to the stream or in the flood plain; that the Country Club would need to acquire all environmental approvals and disposal permits that are required by state and federal law; that codified ordinances require review of any such removal and/or land disturbance on this site before any work commences; that the Van Sweringen brothers, developers of Shaker Heights, gave the land to the Country Club—it was never owned by the city—and any deed restrictions on that property have expired and are no longer enforceable. Later Mayor Weiss, citing his real estate experience, said the owner of the property is clearly responsible for any environmental or health studies and removal analysis, as well as also for any of the environmental clean-up. There are clear environmental laws at the state and federal levels with which the Country Club will need to comply. Mr. Weingart said Partner’s Environmental completed the Phase 1 and Phase 2 environmental studies requested by the City Planning Commission and that a document has been submitted that shows the extent of any environmental issues on the site. Mr. Meyers said there are different levels of contamination, and the type at this site is not considered to be a hazardous controlled substance; it will be removed, but it is not the worst of contamination levels in any way. He related that they have contacted several excavation companies that are familiar with how to remove this type of contaminant and will follow all environmental regulations with the removal and disposal of the contaminated material.

During the public hearing, five neighbors spoke. One, who lives across the street on Parkland, is a cancer epidemiologist and employed by the Cleveland Clinic. He said that the benzo(a)pyrene in the contaminated soil that had been dumped at the site is six times what is permitted in a residential development and that he is concerned about how the removal will affect residences nearby and the public at large. He also indicated that the gates to the area had been left open lately, as if the Country Club wanted neighbors to see the area as an eyesore. He also wanted to know if there is conflict of interest with any of the panel being members of the Country Club. Mayor Weiss responded later that the city does have conflict of interest policies and that no one on the panel was a member of the club. Other residents wanted to keep the area as green space but to abate the infill in any case—to clean up the dump regardless.

Dr. Ganning was concerned that there is a carcinogen in the soil that could be an ongoing issue. She insisted on additional testing after any remediation and removal of soil to make sure nothing dangerous has seeped into the soil or gone farther than what is indicated in the studies by Partners’ Environmental. Mr. Dreyfuss-Wells said he does not think that the development is worth the loss of the green space.

A motion was made to recommend approval. Mr. Boyle, Mayor Weiss, and Councilman Zimmerman voted aye; Mr. Dreyfus-Wells voted nay; Dr. Ganning abstained. The motion passed with the following conditions: that a permanent conservation easement be recorded with each parcel that includes the boundaries of the 75-foot riparian setback and the 100-year flood plain, whenever it exceeds the riparian setback; that the conservation easement be assigned to an appropriate third party as described in Section III D 2 h of the riparian and wetland setback regulations; that riparian setbacks be clearly delineated on site before any land-disturbing activity; that a maintenance access easement agreement is created between the Country Club and the city that includes access to both banks of Doan Brook and is recorded with the plats of each new lot; that Shaker Heights Country Club not be allowed to establish on-site storage of organic material at another location on the property and that organic material must be removed from the property; that final subdivision plat needs to be submitted to the city and filed with the county.

Supporting documents are here:

The mayor adjourned the meeting at 10:15 pm.

The next meeting is June 4, 2019, 7:00 pm.

Barbara Bradley

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