Solon City Council held an emergency meeting on Monday morning to approve a nine-month moratorium on new leases and other development activity at the Uptown Solon Shopping Center.
The reasons to rush into emergency legislation are unclear.
Mustard Seed Market, one of the anchors, did close at the end of October (three months ago) after 20 years at the plaza due to a number of reasons, including local and online competition. But that has happened before at other plazas in Solon. Uptown still has thriving stores, including Ulta Beauty and Petco. Pier 1 Imports is closing half its stores nationwide, but Solon is not on the latest list from a national news outlet of locations to be shuttered.
Store closings are nothing new in Solon.
Earth Fare closed in 2014 after less than a year of operation at the Solon Square Shopping Center, and that space has been vacant ever since. The Sears at the SOM Center Road plaza closed in December of 2014 and stood empty until fall of 2019 when Hobby Lobby and Aldi moved in.
There are many examples of local stores moving out, leaving an empty space for months and sometimes years, with some storefronts getting new tenants and others not. There’s a Chick-fil-A in the spot that once stood empty after a Panini’s shut its doors. Rita’s Salon & Spa is now in the storefront where D&R Bagel operated before moving down the street.
All those moves, and no moratoriums.
Council is saying there are possible health and safety issues prompting the moratorium on Uptown plaza.
We just don’t understand the need for this emergency legislation.
Only Councilman Marc R. Kotora voted against the measure, saying council was overstepping its bounds and preventing a private property owner from conducting business and filling its vacancies. He has a point.
Even Solon Law Director Thomas G. Lobe said though legally permissible, a moratorium could be “a lightning rod for litigation.”
Let’s not forget property owners have legal rights.
We agree with Mr. Kotora who said the issue deserved more open discussion on all levels. Residents need to hear from police, fire, engineering, planning and other city experts about the need for this extreme step.
Officials said the length of the moratorium could be lifted at any time. It is in place until Nov. 3, the day of the general election. Could this be to promote or prevent a zoning change? Is someone considering a new use for this property that is now for sale?
We haven’t heard any talk from officials about this matter.
City Council and the administration, you have our attention. Now we need open discussion about the need for this curious move.