In late 2015, the Ohio Supreme Court sided with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and re-instated its Stormwater Management Program. NEORSD will soon start charging fees to property owners based on how much hard or paved surface they build.
Stormwater can make pollution and damage from water flooding off pavement and rooftops into rivers, streams and Lake Erie worse.
The Court acknowledged the District’s transparency in digitizing every property in its territory, NEORSD Deputy Director of Watershed Programs, Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells noted at the recent Water Resilient Cities conference.
The digital map is online, and shows how much—before any dispensation or credits such as rain gardens—of the fees that will flow into the District’s coffers.
Curious, we looked at some of the properties—the kind that you can easily pick out from a satellite image—and snooped at what they’ll have to shell out on a quarterly basis for their profligate parking lots and acres of operation centers.
The Malls—As expected, shopping malls and big box centers will take a big hit for paving for the 100-year shopping event. Beachwood Place Mall is scheduled to pay $5,222 a quarter. Severance Town Center in Cleveland Heights, already in bankruptcy, is expected to cough up $10,895 every three months! How about wealthy and thriving SouthPark Mall in Strongsville? Wait for it...$0. Wha? The City of Strongsville is inside the NEORSD territory, but its twenty year old mall with 1.2 million square feet of retail and a parking lot that is breathtaking to behold is not.
Strongsville is a member of the Sewer District but not all of the community is in our service area, Dreyfuss-Wells confirms. The portion of the City containing the Mall is not in our service area and thus will not have a stormwater fee.
Corporate campuses—What about the Fortune 500 companies who built their drive-only campuses? Progressive Insurance will pay $2,726 for its main campus alone. Eaton Corporation should pay $6,852 every three months for their new campus in the Chagrin Highlands. By contrast, their former headquarters, the office tower at E. 12th and Superior Avenue, will pay $216.
Hospitals—The Cleveland Clinic: it’s hard to even begin calculating the stormwater fee here, but just the block it owns from E. 100th to E. 105th and Carnegie and Euclid will cost The Clinic $2,926. The hospitals’ suburban campuses will balloon that tally. The Clinic’s office park at Rockside Road in Independence will add another $3,854. University Hospitals will pay $3,290 a quarter for the privilege of building its Ahuja campus at Harvard and I-271.
Industrial sites—The big eye opener is Arcelor Mittal Steel’s operation along the east bank of the Cuyahoga River. The company is expected to pay $21,560 a quarter. Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s big rail yard at E. 55th Street will cost the agency $4,706 to manage the stormwater.
Parking craters—The fee doesn’t take into account the strategic importance or the underlying land value, just the size. The dreaded surface lot between Public Square and the Warehouse District will only pay $448. But, Cleveland State University should be pleased it got a jump on redeveloping surface lots with apartments and mixed-use buildings. The university might wish it hadn't been so hasty in ripping out the green roof on its recreation center - it would have reduced its fee. Also, the huge surface lot CSU owns between Payne and Chester at E. 23rd (which is the future site of a charter school) will be charged $1,857.
The Sewer District is trying to help property owners get out in front of their stormwater run off—and it offers credits for installing green infrastructure.
Also, most shopping malls and parking lots have existing stormwater control measures such as detention or retention ponds, Dreyfuss-Wells says. They can get credit for these practices against their fee through the District stormwater fee credits.
The best move, though, to avoid a lifetime of fees would be to minimize the footprint of a property, build up and in greater density, and then add green infrastructure such as green roofs and rain gardens.
Severance, Randall Park, Euclid Square, Parmatown and other struggling malls might start taking apart unused asphalt parking lots and plant rain gardens.
Finally, an incentive to not pave and use up more property than needed—to build up not out.