WOODMERE — Council members and village residents had many questions for the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission when the master plan draft was presented last week.
Some residents questioned why their views were not included in the planning process while other citizens frowned on the county commission’s recommendations.
In 2018, Woodmere received a grant for $50,000 of in-kind services from the county planning commission to draft a master plan. The commission held three public meetings in 2019 and completed the master plan draft this year in January. The master plan was on the first of three required readings at the July Village Council meeting and it was tabled due to residents’ concerns with the plan.
“Unfortunately, our residents have felt that they have not been heard and then if they were heard, their thoughts were not appropriately included in the plan,” Council President Jennifer Mitchell Earley said following the county’s presentation at the Woodmere Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on July 14.
County planner Rachel Novak said that there were five key takeaways from the master planning process. Woodmere residents value their community, they want to maintain the character of the single-family residential neighborhoods south of Chagrin Boulevard and they want outlets for recreation and connectivity throughout the community, she said.
Residents also shared in prior meetings that they want to be involved in community decisions and would like to see lighting improvements along Chagrin Boulevard for storefronts, wayfinding and landscaping, Ms. Novak said.
Former councilwoman and Irving Park Avenue resident Shelley Ross said that the master plan is geared toward businesses rather than residents. She asked how the village plans to improve traffic so residents can get out of their streets and care for senior citizens.
Ms. Novak said that the county recommended consolidating parking lots and driveways for businesses on Chagrin so there would not be so many driveways that cars can use. This way, it would be easier for cars to turn left onto Chagrin from the residential streets. The county also proposed a new combined Village Hall and community center, which could provide services for seniors, she said.
Councilwoman Glenda Todd-Miller asked about the location of the recommended trails in the village. The county commission showed three options for a recreational trail throughout the vacant properties and the cul-de-sacs on the residential streets.
“In talking to a lot of the residents, I know that they would love to have something like that but they don’t want it running through their streets, going through backyards at the end of the streets,” she said. “Have you considered that?”
Ms. Novak said that the paths were just recommendations based on easements and vacant land that already exists. If the village did pursue trails, she said that there would be a public process to engage residents and gather their feedback.
Councilwoman Lisa Brockwell brought up the section of the master plan draft that recommends the possibility of apartments in a mixed-use development district. She said that she has spoken to several families in the village who are strongly opposed to any kind of apartments.
“They don’t want any more encroachment on their park-like setting,” Ms. Brockwell said.
Belmont Road resident Gladimir Lobo said that residents have raised their voices to say that they did not get an opportunity to provide their input to the master plan. He asked how the village will incorporate the residents’ feedback into the master plan. Ms. Novak said that there were already three public meetings that were advertised so the residents could provide feedback. At this point in the process, she advised Mr. Lobo to share his thoughts with village officials at their meetings.
Village planning commission Chairman Seth Young concluded the meeting by reminding the residents that village officials have their best interests in mind.
“Most importantly from my perspective, I am not looking to go and change zoning that will affect our residents and the village we live in on a whim. It’s a thing that takes time,” he said. “This is a step. It is a turtle race, not a sprint.”
The master plan will remain tabled until council makes a motion to bring it back for further discussion.