Townhome project to move forward following settlement agreement

by Dan Holland

April 19 city council meeting

Broadview Heights City Council passed legislation April 19 authorizing a final settlement agreement that releases the city from liability in a lawsuit filed by Triban Investments LLC regarding the proposed Ledges of Broadview townhome subdivision.

“The biggest issue was the water and nearby residents worrying about flooding,” law director Vince Ruffa said. “They satisfied all of our original water control rules and regulations. After all of this happened, council passed more stringent water control ordinances. We have negotiated with them, and even though they were not required to abide by the new rules, they have agreed to abide by the more stringent water control regulations.”

As part of the agreement, the city’s engineering department is permitted to install storm water flow monitoring devices on the property and Triban would agree to drop the lawsuit against the city. Drees Homes will now be able to move forward with plans to build 36 townhomes on 13 acres spread across three parcels along the north side of West Royalton Road, just west of Weeping Cherry Village apartments.

In May 2019, residents approved a rezoning of the area from a single-family district that prohibits townhomes to a Town Center Special Planning District Zone B, which allows them. The planning commission granted preliminary approval in January 2020, however, council unanimously rejected the plan in October and placed a six-month moratorium on residential subdivisions at that time.

New storm water regulations enacted by the city earlier this year require new housing subdivisions and businesses to install infrastructure, including culverts, manholes and sewers, that can handle a 100-year storm event. Developers also are required to reduce the total amount of storm water coming from a site by an additional 20 percent.

A contentious vote

The issue drew strong opinions from some members of city council as the final vote was taken following an executive session. The ordinance passed with the necessary five affirmative votes from council. Council member Joe Price voted no against the matter and council member Glenn Goodwin abstained after electing not to participate in the executive session.

Goodwin said he abstained because a client had recently approached him with an interest in the development.

“Once I had an interest in that development, I immediately felt that that was an ethics issue, and I asked for guidance from the Ohio Ethics Commission,” he said. “They confirmed what I had thought. They said specifically that I was to abstain from any sort of discussions on this issue. So, I did not go into the executive session.”

Price said he voted no as he was opposed to the project from the beginning.

“I didn’t like the zoning change, and I didn’t like the idea of shoving a lot of homes on a small parcel, especially right next door to people who have had flooding problems,” he said.

Council president Robert Boldt said he was disappointed in Goodwin’s abstention.

 “I think some people voted as if it were an election year, and that’s the problem – when we stop being leaders and start counting votes,” Boldt said. “The easy vote is to vote ‘no’ or not voting. The hard part is to look my constituents in the face and tell them, ‘This is the best deal I can get you.’”

Mahnic questioned what kind of precedent the move would set moving forward.

“When does this end – this abstention?” she said by phone. “If you’re using the fact that you are a real estate agent, and this could be a potential client profit for you, then a lot of the things we do [on council] could be deemed in that same way.” ∞