TO THE HONORABLE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ELYRIA, OHIO:
The COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE held a meeting on MONDAY, JANUARY 27TH, 2020 starting at 6:20 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: Law Director Deery, Mayor Whitfield, Safety Service Dir Brubaker, Assistant Finance Director Farrell, Water Plant Superintendent Jacob, Fire Chief Mack, Building Official Farkas, CD Manager Almobayyed, Cemetery Div Superintendent Given, Councilperson Keys, Councilperson Oswald
1. Approval of the JANUARY 13, 2020 Community Development Meeting Minutes. Mr. Cerra moved and Mr. Madison seconded to approve the said meeting minutes.
2. 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).
(This matter was Tabled on January 13th)
REFERRED BY: Ohio Division of Liquor Control
The clerks office reported that there were no issues as far as the business owners were concerned. Mr. Madison said that Building Official Farkas will speak to the committee.
Darryl Farkas, Elyria Building and Zoning Administrator. He completed a review of the property and it’s currently zoned business automotive which does permit commercial sales of beverages. As to the existing status of the license, he doesn’t have that information. It could be a carry over. He was made aware that it was transferred to another address. As to what they are going to put in this business is unknown because nothing has been brought to the Building Dept.
Mr. Callahan stated that the liquor license is a request for a New License, not a transfer.
Mrs. Mitchell asked Mr. Farkas, that they are requesting a new liquor license but they have not approached his department as to what they are putting on the building. Mr. Farkas said that they have to approach his department as for the zoning of the area in case they want to use the are for something other than what it was. If they continue to use the structure for gas sales, convenient uses, it’s okay. If they want to change it they should approach the Building Dept. to make sure it suites the zoning code and building code. But no one has come forward to request anything.
Law Dir Deery said this is not a legal conclusion but maybe they aren’t going to move forward with any plans until they have a Liquor License in place. Mr. Baird asked if the property is the old Gas USA? Yes, it is! Mr. Madison said that the only 2 options are to request a hearing or not request a hearing. He said that the committee has to base the decision on information they don’t have. Mr. Madison said that he has spoken to some of the residents and from what he’s hearing as it relates to that location is that they don’t want liquor or alcohol sales to go back into that location especially as they look at developing that corridor on Middle Ave.
Mr. Cerra asked if anyone from that address is present at the meeting and no one was.
Mrs. Mitchell said that the committee shouldn’t not approve based on someone that used to be there. But because of the history of that location and the establishment.
And the residents don’t want that. She feels they need more information so they can make an informed decision. The only options the committee has is to request a hearing or not to request a hearing. But the committee should have more information.
Mr. Jessie said he would appreciate having someone in attendance to speak to the committee.
Mr. Cerra said that according to the LC Auditor’s Website, they are behind on taxes on the property. He said he would vote to request a hearing. Mr. Baird asked if we can legally ask for a hearing and then they have to have a hearing and at that point, hopefully the information that we don’t have now, will come out at that time. Law Dir Deery said Council has the right to ask for a hearing or decline the right to have a hearing. If we ask for a hearing, it’s our hearing and we will need to have a case and need to show why we are against this. It can be as simple as having council members there, letters written, testimony from residents. We will need to have ducks in a row. We’ve had hearing before and have been successful before. We are not dealing with a lot of information. She’s not certain that we would have any more information going into that hearing than what’s before us now. You would think that if they want to be good business people that they would want to provide information. The Division of Liquor Control will do there own background check before they grant this if we ask for a hearing and they still do their own background work even if we don’t ask for a hearing.
Mr. Cerra asked if we can keep tabling this? Ms. Deery said no, there is a deadline to reply to the Division of Liquor Control. If we move forward and don’t ask for a hearing at this time, if the license is granted it will come up regularly and we could challenge a renewal when that time would come.
Mr. Madison asked if the fact that there are 2 schools in the area play a factor in denying the request? Ms. Deery said that the Division of Liquor Control will take into account.
Mr. Madison had some suggestions, 1. We can work with the residents to get letters out. 2. If it does go through, he said he can’t support it.
Mr. Cerra asked where would that information and letters go. Ms. Deery said it would be presented as part of the hearing.
Mr. Callahan asked if the hearing would be held locally? Ms. Deery said that they would request for the hearing to be held in Lorain County.
Mrs. Mitchell asked if the City requests a hearing would the applicant be required to come to the hearing and explain who they are and what there plans are?
Ms. Deery said that the burden would be on the City to present the case. The owners may not even be questioned. As far as the ownership, it is in a different corporate name. There is nothing to believe that it’s the same ownership.
Mr. Stewart said if they request a hearing, there is strength in numbers as Mr. Madison said he would have the residents be a part of it and a lot of support.
Mr. Cerra asked if the residents would have a say at the hearing? Law Dir Deery said that the residents would not necessarily comment period but the Law Dir’s Office would present the case and would coordinate it through Mr. Madison since it is his ward. Whether it’s through letters, petitions. And it will depend on how much time is given to present the case.
Mr. Tollett said that he completely agrees with Mr. Stewart, more information the better. He asked in past cases have the applicants gone through the Building Official first or have they gotten their liquor license first? Mr. Farkas said, it depends. As the Law Dir indicated, they can get their license, chose to sit on the license until they have funding to remodel the structure. Nothing in the building code trigger to say they need to let the City know what they are doing. Sometime they can sit on the liquor license until they have funding to remodel the structure.
If they already have an existing establishment, they’re locked into whatever the zoning code is. They could come back and re-open like nothing has changed.
Mr. Tollett asked if there is any past precedence that dictates that? Mr. Farkas said that it depends, if a new establishment comes in wants to add isles to sell items and maybe put in a lottery machine, that would trigger a building code for multiple egress aspects, which would be a semi-change in the structure but not enough to where it wouldn’t be permitted under the zoning code. Mr. Oswald asked how much fight do we have to keep something from going in there if we see a lot of red flags? Mr. Farkas said from a zoning aspect, zero, from a building code aspect, the code allows them to reuse an old use, as long as they aren’t changing anything. There may be some out-dated things that could be ‘grand-fathered in’ by the building code. But if they’re altering it and bringing something in new, then it has to comply with current standards.
Mr. Madison asked if the building is currently up to code? Mr. Farkas said from a ‘building dept. stand-point, he has not pulled the files to see the status or past occupancies. There may have been past property maintenance complaints.
Theresa Shea, 519 East Ave. said that she was part of the ‘mess’ with Gas USA. She said that it’s very hard to revoke a liquor license. Even though someone was killed at that location, the liquor board asked if there were any other complaints at that location? And the City lost their appeal. They learned that the applicant can transfer the license to other family members.
Mr. Madison thanked Mrs. Shea and his recommendation is that he would like to request a hearing and he will work with the residents to coordinate a campaign to work together.
Mr. Callahan read the committee report.
Motion made by Mr. Madison and second by Mr. Cerra that the City DOES request a hearing on this matter.
MOTION MADE COMMITTEE REPORT WRITTEN
3. The matter of the Appointing a Council Member to the Elyria Economic Development Committee for the Job Creation Opportunity Incentive Program.
REFERRED BY: Mayor Whitfield
Mayor Whitfield said this is a committee that reviews things related to economic development, one being the ‘Downtown Facade Program’. He is recommending that the committee appoint Marcus Madison to replace Mike Lotko.
Law Dir Deery noted that in reviewing the ordinance 2018-63 it notes that the appointment of the other council member’s terms were commensurate with their respective council term and therefore with the start of a new council term those other members will need to be re-appointed; Jack Baird and Vic Stewart.
Mrs. Mitchell moved, second by Mr. Cerra to recommend appointing Marcus Madison to the Elyria Economic Development Committee and to re-appoint Jack Baird and Vic Stewart to the ‘said’ committee.
MOTION MADE COMMITTEE REPORT WRITTEN
4. The matter of entering into a contract for a Primary Plans Examiner and a Back-up Plans Examiner for the Building Department for 2020.
REFERRED BY: Assistant Safety Service Dir Brubaker
Building Official Farkas started by saying the 2017 Ohio Building Code requires mandates that all commercial plans are to be sent out to a licensed master plans examiner.
A certified master plans examiner has gone thru the rigors of education and passing exams. There is a limited pool of architects that are willing to assume the responsibility of taking on these projects. Since the adoption of the 2017 Building Code it enacts a 30-day window for plans to be reviewed and responded by the Building Official. That 30-day window means those plans need to get to the architect and he has a certain amount of time to respond back and in turn to grant time for a response. That time constraint can be overwhelming for departments and the architect. Some architects have a 10 – 15 day window which is pretty tight. The City put it out to bid and Clark & Post have come out as the winner. They’ve been a regular for many years and have been reliable and Sixmo Architects came in as the back-up and have been used in the past and have worked out when needed. Mr. Brubaker said that Sixmo has the capability of providing a ‘back-up’ Building Official when Mr. Farkas is out on vacation, because we are required to have a Building Official physically available.
Mr. Cerra moved, second by Mr. Madison to recommend an ordinance authorizing an agreement with said services for the Building Department.
MOTION MADE COMMITTEE REPORT WRITTEN
Mr. Callahan thanked everyone on the panel for the good discussions this evening.
The evening’s meetings continued with the Finance Committee which began at 7:05 P.M.
Mr. Jessie moved and Mr. Cerra seconded to adjourn the Community Development Committee’s portion the this evening’s meetings at 7:10 P.M.
Respectfully submitted by,
Colleen Rosado, Council Clerk Secretary