PEPPER PIKE — City Council last week granted a conditional use permit to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District to move forward with a $1.2 million project to decrease erosion along the banks of Pepper Creek. Located slightly east of the traffic circle with Shaker Boulevard and Gates Mills Boulevard, representatives from NEORSD said that erosion is damaging residential properties.
City Engineer Don Sheehy told council during a Jan. 16 meeting that the stream was constricted by manmade developments, including a gabion wall.
“They are now in the process of relocating and redefining the stream to restore it to its natural layout, improve the water quality and reduce erosion” he said. “This will make it more manageable over time.”
Mr. Sheehy said that NEORSD officials have spent a lot of time and funds on this project. The district is covering 100 percent of the costs, according to project manager Kristen Buccier. Pepper Pike has an ordinance against construction within 75 feet of the riparian zone, and this project would take place directly in the stream, Mr. Sheehy said.
Law Director Steve Byron said that a bank stabilization project is a conditional use, and officials from NEORSD, needed approval from council for the permit.
“In order to do the stabilization project, they need this action by council. The variance was granted by the Planning Commission, that was to allow work within the riparian setback,” Mr. Byron said. “So there are two aspects of this, they are the same activity but two regulatory impacts.”
Ivan Valentic of design firm GPD Group said that the project includes restoring 900 feet of the creek to give the water better access to a floodplain, which is low land near the stream. He said that the contractor River Reach Construction will plant 210 trees, 719 shrubs, and nearly 2,600 perennials in addition to other landscaping around the creek.
Councilman Jim Juliano asked if there is any danger for residents who live along the creek. Mr. Valentic said no, and pointed out that for one resident, the project will move the creek farther from their house. Ms. Buccier also said that when the contractor removes the 6-foot-tall gabion wall from one property, that will remove the risk of anyone falling or jumping from it and getting injured.
Councilman Bob Freed asked about the timeline of the project, and Patrick Rohr of RiverReach Construction said that the project will start in early spring and be complete in three to four months. He also asked if the project would affect traffic on Shaker Boulevard, and Mr. Rohr said there may be a minor disruption for one to two days.
“I would like to express our appreciation for engagement with the sewer district,” Mayor Richard Bain said. “We look forward to the completion of this project.”
In other action, council voted Mr. Freed vice mayor and named Mayor Richard Bain as director of public safety, a job that pays the mayor an additional salary.