“Last year was an exciting year for the village as businesses started opening at Pinecrest,” Orange Village Mayor Kathy Mulcahy said during the Muffins with the Mayors meeting last week with other leaders of valley communities.

Pinecrest occupancy rates are climbing, she said, with about 80 percent of retail spaces filled and two-thirds of apartments and offices occupied. So far traffic tie-ups have not been an issue at the $250 million mixed-use development on Harvard Road near the Interstate-271 interchange that opened last spring.

Nearly 25 residents from Chagrin Valley communities attended the March 12 Muffins with the Mayors at the Orange Senior Center in Pepper Pike expressing concerns about development, the environment and the Orange City School District.

Mayor Mulcahy said residents will see the benefit of a property tax assessment from Pinecrest resulting in $5 million for a recreational trails project slated to add a trail to one side of various main roads in the village.

“We opened a safety station at Pinecrest, which has decreased the emergency response time by nearly a full minute,” Mayor Mulcahy said. Many of the village emergency medical technicians also serve as police officers, and most service department employees are trained as firefighters, she added.

Woodmere Mayor Ben Holbert talked about the upcoming village celebration. “Woodmere is in its 75th year and we’re working hard to provide fun events.”

He also explained that the village is using a steering committee to develop a master plan since Woodmere received a grant for in-kind services from the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission.

Mayor Holbert noted the newest addition to Woodmere’s police department, the K-9 officer in training named Revan.

“[Revan] will be able to track personnel, and he will also be able to detect narcotics,” Mayor Holbert said. “We keep getting requests for him to make personal appearances. He’s a delightful dog.”

One attendee said that her children asked if Revan has a bulletproof vest. Mayor Holbert said no, but the village has received many offers for equipment for Revan.

The mayor also explained that Village Hall is going through a renovation. He said that the $650,000 project will move the police department further back in the building and offer better accommodations for the fire department.

Moreland Hills Mayor Susan Renda said that her village is different from Orange and Woodmere since her residents are not looking for any development in the village.

“We do our best to keep it a small residential gem in the valley,” Mayor Renda said.

The mayor also shared that the police department offers an additional layer of security at Moreland Hills Elementary School and Brady Middle School by providing daily police staffing.

One resident asked the mayors of Orange and Woodmere about their environmental concerns and how they promote recycling in their communities. Orange Mayor Mulcahy reminded the audience that the village passed a ban on plastic bags at the point of sale for businesses, which will go into effect on April 1.

Mayor Holbert said Woodmere council is considering amending the zoning code to allow for a community garden, which could be used to grow plants and food.

Although Mayor Richard Bain of Pepper Pike was not present at the gathering, attendees asked about when the Beech Brook property would be sold and a proposed traffic plan at Lander Circle would be implemented.

Orange Mayor Mulcahy said that the developers plan to have an issue on the fall 2019 ballot for rezoning the property, and said that a road may be built through the Beech Brook land to divert 15 percent of the traffic off Lander Circle.

A man also asked about taxes that go toward the Orange City School District, and questioned when taxes would get too high. Mayor Mulcahy said that the taxes will be whatever the voters choose to support.

“Nothing is more important than the school district,” she said. “All of our property values depend on that.”

Another attendee said that she is willing to pay more since schools are facing funding issues, and said that the children are the future for their communities.

The Orange public school district serves the villages of Orange, Woodmere, Moreland Hills and parts of Hunting Valley as well as the city of Pepper Pike and small sections of Warrensville Heights and Solon.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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