(Approved Jan 27, 2020)
TO THE HONORABLE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ELYRIA, OHIO:
The COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE held a meeting on MONDAY, JANUARY 13TH, 2020 at 6:00 P.M. in Council Chambers.
CD PRESENT: Chair Callahan, Co-Chair Mitchell, Jessie, Madison, Cerra
FINANCE PRESENT: Chair Stewart, Madison, Davis, Baird, Jessie, Tollett
OTHERS PRESENT: Assistant Law Director Breunig, Mayor Whitfield, Assistant Safety Service Dir Brubaker, Building Official Farkas, Finance Director Pileski, Assistant Finance Director Farrell, Engineer Schneider, Councilperson Keys
1. Approval of the DECEMBER 9TH, 2019 Community Development Meeting Minutes.
Mrs. Mitchell moved and Mr. Cerra seconded to approve the said meeting minutes.
2. The matter of a rezoning request to rezone the northwest corner of Abbe Road & Hilliard Road for a Circle K Convenience Store, Gas Station and Car Wash.
[This matter was denied by Planning Commission on Dec. 2nd]
REFERRED BY: Wellert Corporation TABLED TO FEB 10TH
Rick Schmitt of Circle K Corp. Mr. Schmitt gave some background on Circle K. It was founded in 1951 in El Paso, TX and is now based out of Toronto, Canada with US Headquarters in Tempe, AZ. There are 15,000 stores world-wide with 10,000 in the US. There are 233 locations in Ohio with 3 in Elyria. They are asking to rezone the property at 550 Abbe Rd. to B-AO (Business – Automotive Oriented) District and properties located at 648, 652, 656 Hilliard and 550 Abbe from R-MD to B-AO. The zoning changes are to facilitate the site plan for a convenience store/fuel facility on 1.87 acres.
Circle K is proposing to build the latest proto type C store with 5200 sq. ft with 29 customer parking spaces in the front and on the side and 2 will be handicapped spaces. It will include a 24 X 154 canopy with 6 fueling pumps and 12 pumping stations. Landscaping will be provided per City code requirements. There are existing sidewalks along the perimeter of the site to allow pedestrian safety. There will be a dedicated path to the building from the sidewalks. The location will have full access ingress on Abbe Rd and full access ingress from Hilliard. It was recently brought to the attention of the applicant that they would like to make some changes per developments with the school. Mr. Schmitt stated that their engineer will work with Elyria’s code officials to ensure all codes are met to include safety, water retention, community screening and lighting requirements. This location will employ 20 to 25 employees and 6 being full time and hours of operation will be what is allowed, preferably 24 hours. Currently Circle K leases the existing store and currently sells alcohol and tobacco products. Apparently, that is a concern with this proposed location, especially with the new school being built. He spoke with Circle K Safety & Loss Prevention Manager and he has a letter from him stating that there is no record of having alcohol or tobacco violations at the Abbe Rd. location in the past 5 years.
Mr. Schmitt said that there is an issue with additional traffic being drawn into this area. He said it would enhance C-Store offerings while adding fuel service and carwash for the neighborhood. The selection for this property was based on these realities.
The intention is not to bring new customers to this area but rather to enhance the current customer base. Circle K would rather become an owner rather than a tenant.
They will invest upwards of six million dollars developing this property within this community.
At this time Mr. Schmitt went thru slides of renderings of the proposed layout. Currently the driveway is full access and can be changed to also have right in and right out and have full access on Hilliard. They are open to any and all suggestions for screening and landscaping. The building materials will be stone, brick, ethers on the front facing Abbe Road. The side and back will be brick and stone. The canopy is brick on the columns with 12 gas stations.
The question and answers began with the 1st question from Mr. Madison. He asked if the entry way off Abbe information was shared with PC? Mr. Schmitt said that information is new and Planning Commission did not hear that new part of the entry way. When they work with their engineers any and all options are considered. They are willing to make that entry way option work. Mrs. Mitchell said that her concern is the traffic coming off Abbe coming out of the gas station going back onto Abbe and onto Hilliard, the fact that there is a school right there, that would be the main concern. She asked if there was a traffic study done, Mr. Schmitt said they ODOT counted 21,000 cars and Circle K counted 22,000 cars. (That amount is averaged throughout the day). Mrs. Mitchell said that is before the school traffic has been counted.
Mr. Jessie asked about the dental office and asked if Circle K is buying that property, Mr. Schmitt said yes, they are buying that property.
The owner of that property, Dr. Sean McNeeley, 550 Abbe Rd., Elyria came to the microphone to speak to the committee. First, he welcomed Mayor Whitfield. Dr. McNeeley introduced himself and said he and his wife and daughter have a dental practice here in Elyria for the last 21 years located at 550 Abbe Rd. He said there was concern with neighbors when he was building his building but it ended up being all good and the neighbors have all appreciated having his business there.
Dr. McNeeley said that people from the neighborhood drive to Sheffield to go to Sam’s Club and Speedway and other places. The new school will bring a thousand kids next to his office which could be good business for them. They like their location. They also bought another dilapidated house because they didn’t want the City to look bad. Then they were approached by Circle K. They are looking to build a building that will be 10 times more expensive which will pay property taxes and maybe spur development in that neighborhood. There will be a thousand parents going by to take their kids to school and people are still going to still get gas and it will be good to keep the income local.
Mrs. Mitchell asked where they will move their practice to? Dr. McNeeley said that he doesn’t want to leave the area, but they were approached because this builder wants to develop the area with a much larger building that would potentially bring more money in. Dr. McNeeley said that he would look for another place for his practice but he can’t now because everything is up in the air. Mrs. Mitchell asked why the Planning Commission denied this?
Building Official Farkas introduced himself, Darryl Farkas, Chief Building Official and Zoning Administrator. He said the PC denied the rezoning request only, which was the only thing before the commission. It was a request for a rezoning of the residential lots and current dental office. In order for the proposed use to go there it had to be rezoned to a Business-Auto Oriented which is conducive for corner lots and high frequency freeways. The PC considered the traffic which was a key factor in their decision. But from a zoning aspect, if it is rezoned from the information that he had from a month ago, it would work from the zoning aspect.
But the information that he sees here this evening is new and it now shows a different access point, they show parking spaces. This information was not supplied a month ago. His report a month ago indicated that it would be a separate review once resubmitted if it got to that point.
Mr. Callahan asked for clarification regarding a separate review.
Mr. Farkas said if the board approved the rezoning, they would have to resubmit their information indicating showing the specific location of the building, the specific parking spaces and handicap spaces, location of the dumpsters, all these things roll in partially to design review and zoning.
Mrs. Mitchell asked if it would be safe to say, that with this new information, that it should go back to Planning Commission? Mr. Farkas said in his opinion, no, the issue is zoning. Is it permitted or is it not. Mr. Madison clarified that the question is how it relates to the zoning.
The zoning is one piece and the other piece is traffic and what this establishment will do to that environment. Is that what is before us? Mr. Farkas said in order for them to move forward on anything, this property would have to be approved for rezoning. Then it opens a box of all the other aspects and questions. Mr. Madison reiterated that one of the pieces was the traffic. He would be interested in the input or advice of the departments, since there are so many pieces and parts. Mr. Farkas said, from a zoning aspect, if these parcels were rezoned they would fit the definition of a business automotive district. Strictly from a zoning aspect the location of consolidating these different parcels into a business automotive district fits with that zoning description. Mayor Whitfield said based on the new information that his team hasn’t had a chance to see it, he would ask Council for the opportunity for this to go back through the process and have the applicant resubmit and come before the committees again.
Mr. Schmitt of Circle K said in reference to traffic, and referred to the school traffic and asked if the committee thought that maybe they move the drive down further or not. There are pros and cons to that and that it may be too close to the intersections. Mayor Whitfield said that would be things that would need to be discussed and worked through.
Mrs. Mitchell asked Mr. Farkas that the only item that is being considered this evening is the rezoning, that was answered yes by Mr. Farkas as well as Law Dir Breunig. So, Mrs. Mitchell agrees with the Mayor that they go back and have this conversation again. Mrs. Mitchell asked if this matter can be tabled? Mr. Callahan said yes, they will table this matter, but would like to continue with the discussion since everyone in attendance this time.
Mr. Tollett said that on the traffic study, currently there are 21,000 cars a day and if every parent for the school brought their child to school every day that would increase the traffic by 5%. He said that what Circle K is trying to do is capture part of that 21,000. They would be pulling any additional traffic. So, he asks where there would be a traffic problem?
Engineer Schneider said that the traffic issue is the fact that there are 22,000 cars going up and down Abbe Road. The current dental office already has issues with getting in and out because it does back up at the light at the driveway which is about the same location of where the proposed driveway will be for the Circle K. He said they discussed access management with Circle K and said they would require a traffic study because Circle K will have more cars than the dental office has had. Odds are it will have to be a right in and right out only because crossing the two lanes of traffic will make it even harder. So that was his discussion as far as traffic control and traffic flowing. The last thing is for someone turning left and blocking the road up to the light. Those are traffic issues that have to be dealt with. Mr. Schneider said that it would have to be right in and right out onto Abbe Road. He would also require an island in. Because 22,000 cars and you have rush hour and you have the school time it will definitely back up onto Abbe Road.
Mr. Oswald brought up that the Schools still haven’t decided what they were going to do as far a entrance and exit for both cars and buses onto Rosealee. Because that would help to decide with the traffic issue onto Abbe Road.
Elyria School Superintendent, Ann Schloss, 42101 Griswold Rd., came to the microphone to speak to the committee. She started by saying the safety of children is first and foremost. The school had a traffic study done as part of the school project and because of that traffic study, they moved their entrance on Abbe and made it a right in and right out only. Also, the Fire Department is across the street. That was with the data at that time. There will be 1,200 students attending the new school, not 1,000. They do have a plan for how the cars and bus accessibility will work. Both entrances will be used, some for buses and cars. Mainly because they separate the buses from the cars. They also have walkers and there is a sidewalk that goes down Abbe Road to the corner to Hilliard. That’s probably a bigger fear is the students walking and cars zip in and out of the gas station. So, the traffic study changed the schools whole plan and made the entrance be moved, they even have to move telephone poles. She said there were very tight constraints as far as the traffic went. Not only do you have the arrival and dismissal but there will also be athletics and hoping to use as a community center. So, there are a lot of things to consider. Mr. Jessie revisited the traffic issue, you can say 22,000 cars a day but then the traffic that is going in and out of the schools isn’t filtered over a 12 -24-hour period. There will be hot times of the day which is where the traffic issues will be.
Law Dir Breunig wanted to remind the committee that when they’re looking at zoning changes like this, you’re really regulating the uses that can be utilized in that area. A plan was presented and this is a company that will be purchasing the property and developing it. When it’s rezoned, it becomes a permanent change in the use classification that can be performed on that property. So, if this doesn’t work out for the company they can sell it and move on and any other uses that are appropriate in B-AO District are able to be utilized from that point forward. Which includes car dealerships, fast food restaurants, convenient stores, etc. Even though it’s being looked at as a single use situation, it’s not. We need to look into the future which is where this traffic component comes into play and to look at it as part of the character of the neighborhood as part of a zoning classification change.
Mr. Cerra asked about the proposed driveway on Abbe Road and stated that isn’t that where the traffic backs up to right now? Mr. Schneider said yes, during rush hour. So, Mr. Cerra said it would be tough to get out even on a right turn during those busy times. Mr. Schneider said that there is a sign that says ‘do not block driveway’ but people block it anyway. And from Abbe down Hilliard to the driveway gets backed up as well. Mr. Schneider said that the traffic light at Abbe and Hilliard is already planned to be replaced and already went out for bid. The new traffic flow will help move traffic through the intersection but he doesn’t have data as far as how the driveway would be on Hilliard.
Mr. Stewart asked if there is an option that with the traffic concern on Abbe Road to have one entrance in and one entrance out on Hilliard, would that alleviate anything? Mr. Schmitt said typically when it comes down to one entrance they aren’t willing to do that because there will be a lot going on with 12 fueling stations and the car wash.
Mrs. Mitchell had a suggestion, she said that there is plenty open space on the west side of Elyria and they would be happy to have it there, Murray Ridge, West Ridge, plenty of open space. Mr. Schmitt said that the company has looked into other properties and there is a lot that goes into making a property viable for a station and also a location is to serve that particular area, so those things get factored in.
Mr. Baird said that it seems that the matter probably should go back to the Planning Commission to be re-evaluated based on the new info. He thinks it’s not a problem for the zoning, but that’s Planning Commission’s decision and it’s the final decision of Council and taking all the other parts into account.
Chair Callahan asked if there is anyone in the audience to speak on the topic.
- Janet Diewald, 220 Gates Ave. – she doesn’t know why another gas station and car wash is needed in that area, there is already a gas station across Abbe Rd. and also a car wash across Hilliard. She has a problem with liquor being so close to the new school. She said there is currently a problem with liquor licenses on Middle Ave. that are too close to the high school and the new grade school.
- Ken Smith, 644 Hilliard Rd. – it’s at the end of the property that they want to rezone. He feels this appeal to rezone is a blight on that part of town. Right now, the area is in good shape and he doesn’t see any reason for another gas station, there are other gas stations. The current Circle K is answering their needs and the buildings are in good shape and there is a car wash. He understands that the company wants to establish a new business, but this is not the place to do it. Not in this neighborhood. Mr. Smith said that he’s known Dr. McNeeley a long time and with his base of customers and patients and to have the thought that they might have to move and the thought that he might have to move, no way, he’s totally against it.
- Theresa Shea, 519 East Ave. – she said that she drives thru that intersection to go to Westlake and that intersection will be ruined if you have all that added traffic. She lives one block from the high school and said that the roads are totally blocked up during school traffic. She feels it will cause traffic tie ups at that intersection as well as Rt. 57 intersection. She agrees that there are other properties where Circle K could build.
- Timothy Scott Werling, 12700 Cissell Lane, LaGrange – he said that he owns the apartment complex across the way on Hilliard and behind the current car wash. He went on to say that he has long term tenants and the traffic is very difficult for them to get in and out on the driveway. He feels that the extra traffic will be a problem. Also, if Circle K will operate 24 hours there will be continuous noise. He also brought up a point that the current location where Circle K is in, that building is up for sale, maybe that would be an option for Circle K to tear the building down and build there?
Committee Chair Callahan said that the committee will take the recommendation of the Mayor and Table to Matter of this rezoning request to Monday, February 10th at 6:00 PM in Council Chambers to look at the request again.
3. The matter of a request for a NEW liquor license as submitted by 7 Star, LLC,
824 Middle Ave., Elyria (Permit Class: C1 and C2).
REFERRED BY: Ohio Division of Liquor Control TABLED TO JAN 27TH
Committee Chair stated that the Clerk’s office received a response from the Police Department that there were no issues with the applicant of this permit request.
Mrs. Mitchell asked where this 824 Middle Ave. is located? The answer is the old Gas USA, the corner of 8th Street and Middle Ave. Mr. Madison asked if there were any recommendations coming from the Police Department? No there were no issues on the background of the new owner of this business. Mr. Cerra asked if it will be another gas station? Mr. Callahan stated that nothing was indicated on the application. All they know is that it’s a business that will sell liquor, probably a convenience store.
Law Dir Breunig said that it’s a C1 and C2, D6 permit for carry out on beer and wine and including Sunday sales. Mr. Madison stated that he has concerns with this and he felt that the residents will have concerns as well, he asked for the matter to be tabled.
Chair Callahan stated this is tabled to Monday, January 27th and then it will move onto Council on Feb. 3rd and then the matter needs to go back to the State by February 6th.
Mr. Cerra asked if anyone was in the audience representing this matter? Answer is no.
Mrs. Mitchell said that she would agree with Mr. Madison that the fact that it is the old Gas USA and we don’t know if it’s a gas station or a convenience store, so she would second Mr. Madison’s request to table the matter.
Mr. Callahan said they will table this to the January 27th Committee Meeting at 6:00 P.M. in Council Chambers.
4. The matter of an Annexation Agreement with Carlisle Township.
REFERRED BY: Assistant Law Director Breunig
Law Dir Breunig said that the previous administration brought to the Law Department a residential development project on Middle Ave. south of Colonial Oaks. There is a parcel of about 35 acres of land that is still in the township but surrounded on 3 sides by the City. The owner wanted to approach the City and the township about an annexation agreement to have it annexed into the City prior to the development. They worked through the minor details and they came up with an agreement. The City is not giving much up, basically just real property taxes, which if we were doing an expeditated annexation procedure, we would give up anyways. They would keep the real property taxes and we capture income taxes and sanitary sewer fees. There really is no good reason not to do this. Mr. Breunig doesn’t have the total scope of the housing development is. The developer is Rich Barron and he is present in case anyone has questions.
From the City’s standpoint there is no reason not to enter into this agreement.
Mr. Cerra moved, second by Mrs. Mitchell to recommend an ordinance authorizing the ‘said’ annexation agreement.
MOTION MADE COMMITTEE REPORT WRITTEN
5. The matter of entering into an Agreement with Elyria Township in which Elyria will receive proceeds from jobs created in parcels removed from the JEDD.
REFERRED BY: Assistant Law Director Breunig
Law Dir Breunig began by explaining that the City amended the JEDD Agreement with Elyria Township to remove several parcels which was negotiated with Elyria, Lorain and Elyria Township for a development that required Sanitary sewer access. We couldn’t provide sanitary sewer, but the City of Lorain was able to. So we removed those parcels from our JEDD with the understanding that we would enter into an agreement with Elyria Township where we would get a portion of the income taxes generated from the jobs there. Now, this is the 2nd part of that 2-part plan and Councils approval is needed so that the Mayor can sign off on the agreement.
Mr. Cerra moved, second by Mrs. Mitchell to recommend an ordinance authorizing the ‘said’ annexation agreement with Elyria Township.
MOTION MADE COMMITTEE REPORT WRITTEN
Mrs. Mitchell moved and Mr. Tollett seconded to adjourn the Community Development Committee’s portion this evening’s meetings at 7:00 P.M.
The evening’s meetings continued with the Finance Committee which began at 7:05 P.M.
Respectfully submitted by,
Colleen Rosado, Council Clerk Secretary