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.