By Michael Fitzpatrick
Recently re-elected North Ridgeville City Councilman Terrence Keenan has some ideas for City Council. The first is to have it look into creating an architecture review board. Second, he wants council to conduct what are known as “committee of the whole council meetings” so the body can brainstorm about how best to fund the city in 2016 prior to its budget meetings in February.
Keenan, who represents Ward 1, said several nearby cities have established architecture review boards. The argument in favor of them is that board members help a city develop an aesthetically pleasing look via the use of building, green space and landscaping.
Cleveland Heights and North Olmsted both have them as does the city of Kent.
According to the City of Cleveland Heights’ website, its Architecture Board of Review reviews preliminary submissions “for large, complex projects, unusual designs or site conditions, and any projects related to historically significant houses and buildings, whether or not they are officially designated.”
“It deals with the aesthetic, not just the planning. I think we are well overdue and lacking in that regard and I liked for council to think about (it) because I’ll be bringing it up,” Keenan told council at its Dec. 7 meeting.
Keenan is not the first council person to talk about the disjointed appearance of the layout of North Ridgeville. The hope is that developing an architecture review board could help the city improve its look as Center Ridge Road is reconstructed from three to five lanes and new businesses and development come to that area.
Keenan also said he would favor the council meet as an entire unit to plan for the coming year at what are technically called “council of the whole” meetings. At these meetings, council members would likely spend a good amount of time of prioritizing capital improvement projects so as to make sure the most important ones are funded during appropriations in February. Council held committee of the whole meetings in 2014 after a major flood. It was during that time council created a plan to fund improvements to the city’s sanitary and stormwater sewage systems, which are now underway.
“I thought it was one of the best things we accomplished,” Keenan said of earlier council of the whole meetings in which he participated.
“The public is involved and encouraged to attend these meetings and be active with us as we set the priorities in 2016,” Keenan said of what would unfold if the meetings go as he is proposing.
Longtime auditor’s assistant takes over as acting chief of office
The changing of the guard in the city auditor’s office was in full effect at the Dec. 7 council meeting. Long-time city Auditor Chris Costin, who had 30 years on the job, retired at the end of November. In his place at the council meeting was Teresa Machovina, who was filling the role of acting auditor. Machovina has been with the office for several years and was essentially Costin’s No. 1 assistant.
During the same meeting, council passed legislation creating the full-time position of city auditor. Costin, who owns a successful accounting firm, had worked the job on a part-time basis since taking over in the 1970s. As he readied to retire he told city administrators the job now required someone to serve as auditor on a full-time basis. It was not clear what the full-time auditor will earn.
Drivers going by the now-shuttered Buescher’s Hardware on Center Ridge Road might have noticed recently a deep hole in front of the abandoned store. It turns out crews doing work along Center Ridge Road in preparation for a major widening project discovered two giant petroleum tanks buried beneath the grounds. That big gap in the ground you might have seen was where were the tanks were buried.
City officials said the tanks held between 1,000 and 2,000 gallons each, and held some type of petroleum product. City officials knew about one of the tanks but not the other.
Further investigation determined the soil around the two tanks had become tainted by petroleum fumes, according to Mayor Dave Gillock. A state agency that monitors tanks in the state is working on the North Ridgeville case. The tainted soil was scheduled to be covered by tarps to keep fumes from spreading. Eventually the dirt will be trucked to a rural site, where it will it then be spread out and the petroleum fumes can evaporate, Gillock said.