An update on Downtown Stow

On Monday, Stow officials met with our consultants from OHM for more than three hours to discuss our plans for a Downtown Stow.

So far, so good.

The preliminary market study shows demand for retail/restaurants, which means we will proceed to the next stage: OHM will create a set of renderings to attract a developer and private investors to create a multi-use downtown district near City Hall.

We will meet again with OHM in October. We will receive OHM’s deliverables in December/January. We will then seek proposals from developers. Once we select a developer, we will negotiate a set of plans and a financial package.

I believe we are a long way off, but we are on the right track. Please be assured of one thing. Everyone in that room (me, John Pribonic, Mayor Kline and her administration) are dead-set on maximizing the value of this city asset — keeping in mind all of the positive and constructive feedback that you have given through Facebook, phone calls, emails and in-person meetings. We intend to do this without your taxpayer dollars. (Isn’t it great to see things get done in a bipartisan fashion?)

Again, the goal of this venture is to use YOUR input to create a genuine downtown Stow — an energetic, walkable, district where residents can enjoy themselves.

No question: there will be some hurdles. And this will not come together quickly. Probably not next year, or even 2019. However, I’m happy to report that all of the city officials are (presently) on the same page with this goal.

Below is a photo of the land that might be opened for a developer. It’s way too early to predict much more than what I’ve included in this post. The uses, designs, tenants — all way too early. But you know conceptually where we stand.

I’ll keep everyone updated as soon as there is news to provide.



Last night’s council meeting

Here are my notes from last night’s meetings:

New water line – You might be surprised to learn that a couple streets in Stow do not have a city water line; they rely on well water. Progress Park is one of those streets, but that could be changing. The city is going out to bid on a water line, which would be assessed to those homeowners’ property taxes. That would be a positive development for that neighborhood because of the fire hydrant access, if for no other reason.

Senior snow plowing program – Stow has a nice program for plowing the driveways of senior citizens who are economically disadvantaged. The city spends about $12,500 per year, and (on a first-come, first-served basis) we plow the driveways of about 70 homes in the winter. Stow-Munroe Falls High School students then volunteer to clear the sidewalks and walkways for these folks. It’s a nice program, and we have made tweaks to it over the years so that it only covers those residents who can’t do it for themselves.

Adell Durbin plans – We heard two different plans for a new structure at Adell Durbin Park. One is a fancy lodge that would cost between $600K and $800K. The other is an attractive outdoor shelter (i.e., no walls), which would cost about $100K. In either case, this is going to be a building that is used mostly by private functions, and not the public. For that reason, we must be able to justify the investment by looking solely at the economics. The revenue must pay for construction over a reasonable amount of years. That’s just my opinion, of course. I think there is some council support for building a Taj Mahal; I’m not voting to spend your tax dollars like that. We are going to continue reviewing options over the next few meetings.

Medical marijuana – The state legislature has determined that medical marijuana is legal; the cities can’t override that, but we can determine if and where marijuana is grown or sold. Last night, the mayor and law director proposed a ban on cultivation and retail sales of medical marijuana within Stow. Council did not take a vote on this proposal, but rather gave it a first reading.

Amber and Sara explained their rationale for the ban. Their reasons stem from the conflict between state and federal law on the legality of medical marijuana, which prohibits cannabis businesses from using the federal banking system and requires them to deal only in cash. This has two effects, according to the administration: (1) All-cash businesses attract a criminal element (our police chief agreed). (2) There is concern about income-tax evasion where cash is used exclusively. A lot of our similarly situated suburbs are coming to that same conclusion.

My take is this: God didn’t create cannabis for no reason. A lot of sick people have seen their pain and symptoms eliminated by using it. I’m not entirely in agreement with the administration’s rationale about the dangers of an all-cash business, particularly when it comes to cultivation. I see cultivation no differently than any other pharmaceutical company, which we would drool over coming to Stow.

With that said, we shouldn’t rush it. We should take our time and pass legislation only if it protects neighborhoods and ensures a secure, crime-free cultivation facility. For retail sales, meanwhile, I think the correct play is to be patient and see how it works in other communities before we enter the market.

Next meeting – Council will meet next on July 27.

Meeting Notes

Press Releases