Some weeks, we are light on legislation. Not this week. Council met for a total of 6.5 hours this week to discuss various matters in our city. Here are my notes:
Meijer – Months ago, the owners of Stow-Kent Shopping Center presented Stow City Council with plans to redevelop the property with a mixed-use (i.e. residential/retail) plan. This week, the owners shifted, and requested instead that council permit a Meijer grocery store to be built on the property, along with a gas station and convenience store. Last night, council approved the plan by a 6-0 vote.
Originally developed in 1958, Stow-Kent Shopping Center has been an eyesore for many years. Council and the administration have put a lot of effort into getting the old replaced with new. Meijer is a well-respected chain and will invest $20 million in Stow, bringing 270 employees (many of which are well-paid union jobs).
I expressed concern on Monday, however, that Meijer’s arrival will cause the departure of one of the several grocery stores (Giant Eagle, Acme) or department stores (Target) when those stores’ leases expire–thus, leaving us with another hole to fill. After some thought, I concluded that it is not government’s role to limit competition or be a protectionist. Meijer is a good fit in that location, and its arrival is good for Stow’s income tax base and Stow’s shoppers. So I voted “yes.”
Lt. Snavely – A lot of people around town are praying for one of Stow’s finest officers, Lt. Brian Snavely, who was injured on Route 8 during last week’s snow storms. He is now recovering from serious, but not life-threatening injuries.
Cluster development – Council rejected, by a 3-4 vote, a cluster development at the corner of Leewood and Graham roads, which was fiercely opposed by neighbors. Cluster developments are allowed only with 3 acres, and this parcel had just under 2 acres. Also, density is limited to 2 houses per acre. The owner of this 2-acre property was seeking 5 houses. To me, the density variance of 25% was excessive. I offered an amendment to grant the owner one variance (to build a cluster development) but not the other (relating to density). That amendment didn’t carry.
Other items -
Our leaf pickup teams are about 4 days behind schedule because of the snow. With warmer temperatures coming, they likely will be able to catch up.
We approved the hiring of a 14th dispatcher. We currently have 13, and are authorized for 15.
Council approved the increase of fines for parking violations from $15 to $25. I was not satisfied with the justification for that increase, so I voted no, along with Brian Lowdermilk.
Council will meet next on December 8, with a meeting of the Finance Committee. On that date, we will analyze the 2015 budget.
Here are my notes from last night’s meetings, which were short and mainly uneventful:
Police cruiser maintenance – Council approved an increase in 2014 police cruiser maintenance, from $40k to $49k. In spite of this increase, the program instituted by the city in the past five years has been quite successful in keeping a safe and usable fleet of cruisers on the road. We are also saving money on maintenance. We strive to keep cruisers on the road for a maximum of 4-5 years, with a cap of 80k-100k miles.
Fox Den personnel – Council also approved the renewal of contracts for the head groundskeeper and head golf pro. I have made it no secret that Fox Den is the city’s most cumbersome albatross. But I will readily admit that the course has gotten on track the past few years operationally. It has cut salaries paid to managers almost in half. To be clear: I still want the city to sell Fox Den, but until that day comes, it needs to be consistently profitable (not considering the debt service).
Halloween – Trick-or-Treat in Stow will be Saturday, Nov. 1 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
News from the Service Department – Road repairs are being conducted on Hibbard, Darby and Fishcreek … The Graham Road project looks to be on schedule and under budget … A proposal by Councilman Adaska to have a sound wall construed on Route 8, adjacent to Treeside Drive, has been approved for for grant money, but the project will be on a waiting list for that funding … Leaf pickup begins on Monday. Check Stow’s Web site for details: http://stowohio.org/leaf-pickup/.
Next meeting – Council will meet next on November 20.