Jun
15

Last night’s city council meeting

Here are my notes from last night’s city council meetings:

CAD system – City council unanimously approved a contract with Summit County and several other municipalities for the sharing of expenses on a $4 million piece of 911-dispatch software. This is a win for everyone involved. We are all getting state-of-the-art, high-tech capabilities, which will keep our officers safer and help them respond quicker and with more information.

The contractual relationships here are important, given that Stow is investing nearly a half-million into the software, and yet Stow won’t hold the software license. Rather, the software provider (Tyler) will be entering into a contract with Summit County. Summit County will then be entering into a sublicense agreement with Stow and several other cities.

I used skills developed in my day job (as a business lawyer) to identify a weakness in the sublicense. Because Summit County holds the license, Stow had no assurances it could keep the sublicense rights for the entire useful life of the software, in spite of Stow’s significant up-front investment. After 10 years, the contract gave Summit County the ultimate right to keep the license, reconstitute the sublicensee group, and wedge out any community (like Stow) for any reason. This, of course, is not Summit County’s present intention, but who knows who will be running Summit County in 10 years–or what that person’s relationship with Stow’s mayor will be?

Thankfully, Summit County and the other parties agreed to amend the draft contract at my request. The contract now allows any city to tag along with Summit County for the length that Summit County keeps the master license with the software provider.

Obviously, I won’t be on Stow City Council in 10 years. But we need to constantly be thinking long-term. Maybe it’s because of my relative youth, but it’s something I’ve preached since I was elected.

Arndale Road – We are hoping to re-open West Arndale Road by July 4.

Cone truck – A few months ago, City Council authorized the purchase of a cone truck, to assist our service employees in placing cones on Route 8. Previously, they hung off the back of a pickup truck to place cones on the freeway. Not efficient and not safe. That truck has now arrived, and you can watch it in action this Saturday night as the service department blocks off lanes to conduct repairs on Route 8.

Campaign update – I’m happy to report that we (again) outraised our opponent in this campaign finance cycle. More importantly, we now have three-times more cash on hand than the Democrat. Your generous donations have made the difference. Laura and I are very appreciative. We take nothing for granted, but a lot of experts (who once thought this could be a close race) are now saying it’s over before it began. You can pitch in at mikerasor.com/donate.

Next meeting – Council will meet next on June 28.

May
25

My notes from last night’s council meeting

Here are my notes from last night’s council meeting…

Storm water projects

Two years ago, City Council decided that enough was enough. We needed to set aside a big piece of money to prevent catastrophic flooding in certain neighborhoods. In 2018, you will see us begin to put that money to work — in what is the largest investment in storm-water infrastructure in Stow’s history. Here are some of the major 2018 projects:

Wetmore Park – We are creating a walking trail over a stream, which will create a great deal of additional rainwater storage.

Mohican – East of Mohican, near the City Center’s wellness trail, we will be increasing the capacity of a detention pond.

Marhofer – We are creating a new detention basin on the grounds where the city purchased three homes that were frequently flooding.

These projects may not seem like much, but they will result in water remaining where we want it, and not in people’s basements. And these projects also set the stage for others in 2019 and beyond.

Downtown Stow

The project took a couple of turns during yesterday’s meeting, but I believe we are on the right track.

First, Bob Adaska and Brian Lowdermilk expressed their desire to kill the project altogether. Despite voting to hire the consultant, and despite the consultant telling us we have the green light based on market conditions and community support, Bob and Brian are fearful of what the ultimate project will entail. I tried to explain that, at this stage, we are only seeking proposals — and while a “no” vote might eventually be required — we are still in the study phase. They weren’t hearing it. Fortunately, the rest of City Council decided to press on, and the motion to proceed passed by a 4-2 vote.

Next, the controversial CED legislation … This legislation would create a “Community Entertainment District,” which makes 15 additional liquor permits available. I’ll admit, we could have messaged this better. We have zero-point-zero interest in having stand-alone bars serving hard liquor, but that is the vision people saw with a CED. Rather, we want additional permits so that a high-end restaurant (that, like all restaurants, serves alcohol) would find it easier to locate in Downtown Stow. Because of the confusion that the CED caused — and in fact, the cloud it cast over the entire Downtown Stow project — I decided to remove it from consideration. The rest of council agreed. If our developer wants a CED, then the developer can obtain it on his/her own.

New Councilmember – Mayor Kline’s move to Cuyahoga Falls knocked over a couple other dominoes. First, it resulted in Jim Costello’s appointment as Mayor. Second, it resulted in a vacancy in Costello’s Ward 2 Council seat. Third, it resulted in the vacancy of Chairman of Finance Committee, held by Costello.

Council accepted applications and resumes to fill the Ward 2 seat, and interviewed the 8 candidates who met the parameters of the request. One person subsequently withdrew his name from consideration.

After much deliberation, Council decided that Doug Herchick would be the best person to fill the spot. The vote was unanimous, and Doug was sworn in effective at 12:01 AM today.

Doug ran against Costello last year. What impressed me was Doug’s willingness to knock on doors to hear what residents in his ward wanted. Doug stayed positive in his campaign, never attacking Jim. Although Doug was defeated in November, he continued to attend City Council meetings, which showed his true interest in service. Although I didn’t endorse Doug last fall, I did endorse him for this appointment process. His proven commitment got him over the edge, in my opinion.

The other applicants had great resumes. I have no doubt they would do a great job, and I hope they consider running for office in the future.

As for the third domino, Brian D’Antonio now chairs the important Finance Committee, and I think he’ll do a great job there.

Other Notes

  • The Fire Department received two grants for diesel reclamation systems, to assist in making a cleaner air environment at our fire stations. As you might have heard, firefighters have a higher rate of cancer than other careers, and these machines (which cost about $50K each) will help remove carcinogenic truck exhaust from the stations.
  • I offered a motion for Planning Committee to discuss a text amendment to our zoning code — to remove duplexes from R-2 and R-3 districts. … When people move into a neighborhood with single-family homes, they have a reasonable expectation that their neighbor isn’t going to sell to an investor, who will rip down the existing structure, and build a duplex. Unfortunately, that has been happening, and I want to stop it. My motion passed by a 6-0 vote. It’s now up to the Planning Commission to decide whether to move forward.
  • Council approved the rezoning on Hudson Drive for the Omni Senior Living facility. This isn’t going to get much press, but it’s a really nice win for the city and school district’s taxpayers. The facility will pay about $600,000 in local taxes annually, and provide $2 million in payroll. It’s an appropriate expansion of our mini medical corridor in that area.
  • Council will meet next on June 14.

Meeting Notes

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