Monday, February 14, 2011

Oakwood Update with Links

The saga at Oakwood continues. At this time, Oakwood Commons is pretty much a done deal in South Euclid. The city itself has relatively little power in relation to zoning: They can zone it residential or retail. (Currently, it is zoned as residential, which would be worse for South Euclid than retail.) But since the sale of Oakwood Club to First Interstate is a private transaction involving private property, the new owner can do what he wants with the land. The city has some jurisdiction to ensure certain standards are maintained in construction and landscaping. But South Euclid cannot arbitrarily zone it as greenspace, which is something many in the Citizens for Oakwood group fail to grasp. About seven years ago in Lakewood, city leaders tried to abuse eminent domain laws. The case wound up going to court, the city lost, and the mayor wound up getting tossed out of office. (It should be mentioned that in the Lakewood case, the city was trying to pave over existing residences for the creation of a shopping center - different than what is planned for South Euclid.)

The Cleveland Heights portion of the land has not yet been sold, but First Interstate has an option to buy the land. If FI does not buy by April, then it goes back on the open market. The Severance Neighborhood Association has a link for donations. No word on how much they've raised or what progress they've made.

I also recommend Jane Goodman's excellent, nuanced blog post about the situation at Oakwood, particularly in relation to how the current Oakwood Club is not greenspace, and how the city of South Euclid itself has relatively little retail space.

Idealism Vs. Reality

While some feel that these issues should be faced more regionally, the current reality is that there is no tax revenue sharing between local communities. The retail in Cleveland Heights, University Heights, etc., benefits those cities only. The relative lack of retail in South Euclid proper depletes its tax base, which places a strain on city finances - especially with plummeting housing values, foreclosures, and a huge surplus of empty houses. Last year, there was a brief attempt to raise taxes for those who live in South Euclid but work elsewhere. Given the lack of commercial space in South Euclid, that's an easy majority of people. After a huge backlash from citizens, the decision was reversed, and cutbacks were instituted.

I have tried, in this post, to include links to all sides of this story. If anyone has more, please include them in a comment. And remember, anonymous comments are generally not posted, so if you have a comment to go with your link, please include your name.

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