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Cleveland to hire climate action plan consultant; plus, highlights from Cleveland Heights green zoning

Marc Lefkowitz  |  04/10/12 @ 2:00pm  |  Posted in Climate

· After nudging from GCBL to set aside the silver bullet solution and draw a clear roadmap, the City of Cleveland's Department of Public Utilities and Office of Sustainability are soliciting proposals from qualified firms interested in providing preparation of a Climate Action Plan for the City of Cleveland. Proposals submitted in response to the RFP must be received on or before noon on Tuesday May 1, 2012. There is a pre-proposal conference on Thursday, April 19th at 2:30 p.m. at Sustainable Cleveland Center in Tower City. Attendance at this session is optional. Contact Simon Mastroianni for information simon_mastroianni@clevelandwater.com

· Keeping stuff out of the landfill is an important part of your being a good steward of the environment. We just got our copy of "Pass it on" the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District's guide to donating usable stuff. It lists 140 community service organizations and the specific stuff they're looking for, like toys, art supplies, clothes, books, office equipment, furniture and more. The next time your spring cleaning, check it out here.

· Earth Day is April 22-there are many ways to celebrate it in Northeast Ohio. The biggest is EarthFest at the Zoo. This year's theme is "Local and Sustainable Food" which is in line with Sustainable Cleveland 2019 year of local food celebration. Or you could help clean up a river near you like this event for Doan Brook.

· The following are some of the highlights in the City of Cleveland Heights' updating of its zoning code to promote more food security and sustainable development. For example, the city will allow community gardens and greenhouses on vacant lots in single-family residential districts. Farmers markets and community gardens are OK in multi-family districts.

Rain barrels (rear and side), cisterns, rain gardens, compost bins and clotheslines in residential areas are good. If designed nicely, the city will even allow vegetable gardens in the front or side yard (deer net fencing is fine; use of insecticides made from synthetic chemical materials is prohibited.).

While the city encourages more density already by allowing accessory units, such as garden apartments, they cannot cover more than 20% of back yard.

The city is still stubbornly opposing the use of well-designed gravel drives, but it will allow more expensive and harder to find permeable drive products like gravelcrete, grasscrete, porous concrete and permeable pavers.

Keeping four chickens for eggs will be permitted (no roosters), with coops and runs in rear yards only

New commercial uses, such as greenhouses and live/work spaces, could happen in existing commercial zones.

Design standards will promote walk and bike vibrant districts: All buildings will have a public entrance from the sidewalk along the primary street frontage. Outlot buildings must define the street frontage by placement near the street with showcase windows and entrances orientated toward the street. In the more watered down "encouraged" category are parking structures wrapped with ground floor uses.

Cleveland Heights already has a mixed use district zoning classification. Much is made about off-street parking minimums and how they encourage or prevent more walkable districts that can be served by transit.

Recent thinking regarding off-street parking requirements recommends that communities look at their own individual parking needs rather than copy those of other jurisdictions or use published standards. Newer off-street parking ordinances recognize both the necessity of parking and the need to reduce dependence on the automobile by encouraging transit and other alternative transportation modes. Some communities establish standards that specify the maximum number of off-street parking spaces that may be provided associated with specific uses.

Cleveland Heights acknowledges this in writing: "The off-street parking regulations also work to minimize the negative impacts that result from large expanses of paved parking areas and encourage alternate modes of transportation, including walking, biking and public transportation."

So, how does Cleveland Heights do when it comes to updates to off-street parking?

The city follows a fairly standard playbook by assigning 1 space per 250 sq. ft in shopping centers. While the city does introduce shared parking requirements, it might also require in mixed use districts a mixed use minimum parking requirement that is a calculated based on the combined leasible area for each shop or business (minus atriums, foyers, hallways, courts, maintenance areas, etc.).

It is encouraging to see Cleveland Heights join more progressive cities by requiring bike parking at shopping centers, schools, places of worship, hospitals, offices, recreation and community facilities. The city spells out the details of what to include and how to design bike parking.

Cleveland Heights hosts a public information session on its green zoning update on Wednesday, April 11.

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David Beach
4 years ago

I'm not sure what meeting Kulwant is talking about, but I can say that it's tempting to be cynical about public meetings that invite comments about planning processes, as many of these meetings are conducted as part of some bureaucratic requirement and happen only when plans are almost complete.

However, I have also been part of meetings that are sincere efforts to learn from public comments. The recent (2013) rounds of workshops conducted by the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium were examples of meetings where public comment really influenced the regional planning outcomes.

Kulwant
4 years ago

I'll be interested to atentd this meeting. I went to one of the state sponsored, statewide planning meetings to solicit citizen input months ago (back in October, I think). They had people vote with sticky dots on posterboards about what they would like to see happen in their communities. I noted many children voting with these stickers too. Is there any way at all to track on a state or city level whether or not any of these forums for citizen input ever amount to actual citizen input being taken into account and implemented on some level?

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