City Planning Commission/ Board of Zoning Appeals, Jan. 7, 2020

January 22nd, 2020  |  Published in Observer Reports

Members Present: David Weiss, mayor and chair; Rob Zimmerman, council member; Joseph J. Boyle III, Kevin Dreyfus-Wells, and Joanna Ganning, citizen members

Others Present: Joyce Braverman, director of planning; Dan Feinstein, senior planner; William M. Gruber, law director.

The agenda and all supporting documents for this meeting may be found here:

Mayor Weiss called the meeting to order at 7 p.m. He announced that during its meeting the previous Monday evening (Jan. 6), City Council appointed newly re-elected Sean Malone as the council representative to the Board of Zoning Appeals/City Planning Commission effective Feb. 1. The mayor thanked Mr. Zimmerman for his eight years of service, and Mr. Zimmerman in turn thanked his colleagues for their work on the board.

The minutes of the Dec. 3, 2019, meeting were approved unanimously, with minor corrections.

Tapas Lounge/Bar – 16704 Chagrin Blvd. (across the street from Heinen’s)

Continuation of a Public Hearing on the request of Kenneth Gibson, Tapas Lounge/Bar, for a Conditional Use Permit for a lounge/bar and for a variance to the parking requirements since there is no onsite parking. In this former retail space, the applicant proposes to establish a lounge/bar, a similar use to the brewpub/wine bar conditional use category in the Commercial Mixed Use zoning district. This case was continued at the July 2019 meeting so the applicant could apply for the Conditional Use Permit.

Mr. Gibson presented the plans for the Tapas Lounge/Bar. He contends that the primary use is as a restaurant, that no permit is needed, that he received permits last year to begin renovation and began construction in January. Mr. Feinstein stated that a permit was erroneously issued by the Building Department for interior renovation without completing the zoning review and, further, that what has been built does not conform to the plans approved by the Building Department. Mr. Gibson believes that he has done what is required of him.

Staff suggested denying the Conditional Use Permit for the following reasons: the applicant has not submitted information about how the intended use is similar to a brewpub/wine bar, that none of the Conditional Use Permit standards have been addressed, and that there is no information on file relative to operational use, maximum number of patrons, or security. Further, the property is adjacent to single and two-family residences.

During the public hearing, a Kenyon Road resident who lives behind the proposed lounge/bar, spoke about the noise, gunshots, and nuisance problems from A Touch of Italy restaurant on Chagrin Boulevard to the east. She has been calling the police regularly for disturbances at that restaurant since the late 1990s. She likes living in Shaker but may be forced to relocate if similar problems occur at the Tapas Lounge/Bar. Ellory Smith, of Warrensville Heights, spoke in favor of the lounge/bar. Mr. Smith, a minority partner of Mr. Gibson in this enterprise, was concerned that the city allowed construction to begin and that a considerable amount of money had already been spent on renovations. He also stated that the Tapas Lounge/Bar should not be blamed for problems at other establishments. Mr. Gruber responded that Cleveland Heights had revoked Mr. Gibson’s permit to operate in that city because he did not comply with requirements issued for his establishments there. Mr. Gibson objected to that statement, saying it was not true, and Mr. Gruber replied that he was quoting from Cleveland Heights records. The mayor closed the public hearing and asked for a motion. Mr. Gibson and Mr. Smith left the room before the vote was taken.

The board voted unanimously to deny the Conditional Use Permit and that the parking variance was moot since the permit was denied.

Shaker Redo LLC – 3700-3704 Lee Road

Public Hearing on the request of Nick Fedor, Shaker Heights Development Corp., representing Shaker Redo LLC, for a Conditional Use Permit to establish a Local Sign District and variance to the sign regulations in order to install a sign projecting above a building cornice line. The applicant proposes to mount a blade sign, wall signs, and window signs to provide signage for the commercial buildings at the corner of Lee and Nicholas Roads. A Local Sign District is required in order to use blade or projecting signs. There is one blade sign proposed on the Lee Road side in order to identify businesses, and it is proposed to extend above the flat roof. Code does not allow a sign to extend above the cornice line of a building, but this site is two buildings. Council confirmation of a Conditional Use Permit is required.

Staff supported the request with the following conditions: no portable signs are allowed; projecting signs are limited to 12 square feet with a 3-foot projection; signage requirements will be included in tenant leases; all signage requires Architectural Board of Review design approval.

Elicia Gibbon, Gibbon Architecture, presented the signage plans for the buildings, which included gooseneck lighting and aluminum cutout letters, a wall sign on the Nicholas Road side, and a projecting sign on the rainscreen element. The signage will join the two buildings visually. The Architectural Board supports the blade sign design,

There were no comments or questions during the public hearing. The board voted unanimously to approve the Conditional Use Permit to establish a Local Sign District.

Nature Center at Shaker Lakes – 2600 South Park Blvd.

Public Hearing on the request of Jodi McCue, Environmental Design Group, on behalf of the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, for improvements to public land in order to replace the Stearns Trail. The Nature Center is reconstructing the trail with essentially the same layout, which includes sections of wood boardwalk, bridges, benches, platforms, and a treehouse. A new trail entry feature is proposed in the Nature Center parking lot as well as new entries at both South Park and West Park boulevards. The two West Park entries will be connected by a 3-foot-wide mulch path that extends to the Shaker Boulevard sidewalk. Council approval of improvements to public land is required.

Staff supported the request based on the following: the renovations match the new All People’s Trail; the trail is being replaced in essentially the same location; the amenities and access benefit the general health and welfare of residents; portions of the trail are ADA accessible; and the essential character of the neighborhood is not negatively affected.

Ms. McCue presented the plan and Kay Carlson, director of the Shaker Lakes Nature Center, provided further information.

During the public hearing, a neighbor across West Park asked about sight lines from street level, especially the proposed treehouse, which is not yet designed. Ms. McCue and Ms. Carlson assured him that the top of the treehouse would not project above street level; it is merely replacing the current structure, which is at the level of Doan Brook. They also assured him that the trailheads would be simple, comprising only an exposed concrete walk, cast sandstone bench, bike rack, and trash receptacles.

The board voted unanimously to approve the improvements to public land in order to replace the Stearns Trail at the Nature Center.

The next meeting is Feb. 4 at 7 p.m.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

Barbara Bradley, observer

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