Comprehensive plan audit won’t serve as addendum to 2015 plan

by Chris Studor

Sept. 6 township trustees meeting

By a 2-1 vote, trustees approved a motion making the update/audit of the 2015 township comprehensive plan and community survey a standalone document to be used for reference purposes.

Trustees Jack Swedyk and Monique Ascherl voted in favor of the motion with trustee chairperson, Melissa Augustine, voting against the motion.

 Augustine said the update/audit and accompanying community survey should be designated an addendum to the 2015 comprehensive plan, not just a standalone reference document.

“A citizens steering committee worked for months gathering input on how residents envision the future of Hinckley Township, as well as helped, form the community survey residents took earlier this year,” said Augustine. “We also spent thousands of dollars to hire OHM Planners to assist the steering committee and trustees,” said Augustine. “OHM was directed to write a memorandum, summarizing the results. I think making the OHM memorandum and survey result an addendum to the comprehensive plan, versus just a standalone reference, carries much more weight from a legal standpoint when a developer comes before the zoning commission and the commission has to make decisions.

Trustee Jack Swedyk disagreed.

“At the end of the process, OHM provided a report to the township stating that overall, the 2015 Comprehensive Plan components, goals and objectives remain relevant,” said Swedyk. “The only changes that were recommended by OHM were to policy documents that are not part of the comprehensive plan. OHM recommended adding the audit survey results as an addendum to the existing comprehensive plan. However, Trustee Ascherl, discussed the addition with the Medina County Prosecutor’s office and it is my understanding that [the prosecutor’s office] advised that doing so could create a conflict with information currently in the 2015 comprehensive plan, leading to legal complications. Also, it is my opinion that the request [by Augustine] to modify the initial OHM memorandum interferes with the original intent and integrity of the project.”

Augustine said the information left out of the first OHM memorandum and which she requested be included in the second OHM memorandum, states that the most recent community survey shows residents do not favor more conservation developments or adding more senior housing/assisted living.

It also showed the 57% of residents favor bringing water to town center. Trustees are currently discussing how to spend about $900,000 in American Rescue Plan federal funds which Augustine said could be used to bring a water line down Ridge Road, at least to the fire station and town hall. The line also could be brought in from several other directions in order to bring water to the town center.

“Currently our firefighters, when coming from a fire, are taking showers in brown-tinged water,” said Augustine. “Our merchants complain that only having well water costs them hundreds of dollars a month in county health department inspection fees and damages their plumbing. Not a single business in the town center has a fire suppression system. In addition, some residents living near the intersection of Rt. 303 and Ridge complain of a lack of water pressure.”

Ascherl said she wants to look at all possible uses for the ARP funds, not just at bringing water to the downtown area.

“I think we need to look at all the possibilities, including some that would benefit all of the people in the township not just a group of people,” she said. “For instance, we could use the funds for a number of smaller projects such as making some of the township buildings solar powered which would reduce operational costs for the township. We could use some of the money to improve the former fire station bay area which so many of the township community groups use. We are going to have to put in a lot more study on how to use these funds.”

Township fiscal officer, Martha Catherwood, said trustees have until December of 2024 to indicate how they would use the funds and until 2026 to implement use of the funds.

In other business:

Ascherl announced that the updated township website is scheduled to go on line the week of Sept. 12. Among the highlights of the new website is a common question-and-answer section addressing familiar questions.

Ascherl said the township will notify all businesses that have opted out of the Kimble trash collection program that they must file a yearly opt-out form.

Ascherl presented a new Community Reinvestment Area (tax abatement) schedule, which includes tax abatement for small business as well as large businesses. Recently, by a 2-1 vote, trustees turned down a request from Drug Mart for tax abatement for a new building on the corner of Rt. 303 and West 130th, which would have given Drug Mart 50% tax abatement for 15 years. Swedyk was the only trustee to vote in favor of the Drug Mart tax abatement saying that if turned down, Drug Mart might pursue an annexation to Brunswick.  Ascherl’s new proposal provides a sliding scale of tax abatement based on the value of the initial investment with decreasing abatement over time. She has asked fellow trustees for their input prior to meeting with Medina County Economic Development Corporation. She said while the idea of providing tax abatement to smaller business is new “the people of the township have expressed a desire to have more mom and pop businesses in the township versus larger development.” She said businesses like Drug Mart could still get tax abatement but it would be for 50% the first five years sliding down to 30 percent the final five years but not 50% for the entire 15 year period. Smaller businesses, with a $1 million value could apply for tax abatement with a proposed abatement of 50% the first five years and 40% abatement years 6-15

Augustine announced that the township is hosting a public information meeting on land donations for conservation purposes with officials from Cleveland Metroparks and the Medina County Park System. The meeting will be held Wednesday, Oct. 19, 6:30 p.m. at the township hall. ∞