Female fire medic sworn in; councilperson argues for his tenant

by Sue Serdinak

Sept. 6 village council meeting

For the first time, Richfield Village has a full-time female fire medic on staff.

Following the recommendation of Fire Chief George Seifert, Mayor Michael Wheeler swore in Daytona Stiegelmeyer. Her parents attended the ceremony, and her father pinned on her badge.

Stiegelmeyer has an Associate Degree in Applied Science in fire and an EMS certificate from Cuyahoga Community College. She is fluent in American Sign Language and has her paramedic and fire fighter 2 certificates. 

The village hired Stiegelmeyer as a part-time paramedic in April 2022. Seifert said the fire department team is eager to have her full time.

Zoning issue

A zoning issue involving a councilperson took up most of the village council meeting. Rick and Kevan Hudak purchased property adjacent to their home and business at 3941 Brecksville Road. The Kunde insurance company had operated from the location for many years.

Rick Hudak, a member of council, planned to rent the space to Stitches & Stowaways as a manufacturing, processing, assembly, servicing and testing facility. Hudak said the owner planned to sell items on the internet. The business had been operating as a resale/home décor retail shop in the Stagecoach building on West Streetsboro Road until it recently closed.

By a 3-1 vote, the planning and zoning commission approved the location for the business as long as no retail sales were conducted and there was no outdoor storage. The property is located in the office and limited industrial zoning district.

Council had the option to add additional stipulations, deny the conditional certificate or waive its review.

Councilperson Jeff Stoppenhagen moved that council review the conditional permit to stipulate that retail sales would be prohibited. He also suggested that council address parking in front of the building.

Stoppenhagen said several businesses along Brecksville Road are not in compliance with village zoning. He also said it is expensive to take non-compliance zoning issues to court.

Planning and Zoning Director Brian Frantz agreed that it is easier to enforce the zoning code when additional requirements are added to a zoning certificate.

Hudak left the council dais and took a seat at a conference table, indicating he would not vote. However, he spoke for several minutes, averring that council should not add additional restrictions. He asserted that every business engages in sales, directly or indirectly.

Councilperson Ralph Waszak countered, “I don’t think it is going to be harmful to the owner of the property and the business to address [Stoppenhagen’s] concerns. … Limit this use only to the applicant. Any similar use would have to come to the village. No outdoor storage would be appropriate [to restrict].”

Council voted to add to the zoning certificate. However, Councilperson Pat Norris said he would not vote on the issues because Rick Hudak is his friend.

Council approved the restriction that the certificate apply only to this applicant and that there be no outdoor storage. Council members, including Norris, voted not to prohibit retail sales.

Sidewalks and paving

Service Director Scott Waldemarson reported that the construction of a sidewalk along Broadview Road from Emerald Boulevard to Giant Eagle would begin soon. A crosswalk beacon will be installed at the Richfield Heritage Preserve entrance, where the sidewalk switches from the east to the west side of the road.

A flashing beacon will also be installed in front of Town Hall at the intersection of Humphrey Road.

Waldemarson added that the sidewalk from Olesia’s Taverne to Richfield Woods would not be constructed until next year, after the water line work is complete, but other village sidewalks would be repaired this fall.

Road paving continues with some roads being repaved using the traditional method and some using a recycled method.  Southern Road will be the last road to be paved, and the work will be done using the recycled method.

Traffic confusion

Council discussed the confusion drivers are having trying to enter the True North gas station on Wheatley Road. True North installed westbound entrances and exits, but eastbound traffic must enter and exit from Kinross Boulevard. Frequently, drivers are not following the signage.

“We would have been better off to not have entrances and exits onto Wheatley Road. I think we should consider eliminating that entrance,” said Waszak.

Wage increase

A resolution was added to the agenda, readings were suspended, and council unanimously approved a 3% wage increase for members of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 66, effective Jan. 1, 2023. 

In 2021 the village and FOP entered into an agreement that provided a 2.5% wage increase for 2021 and a 2% wage increase for 2022. The agreement required that negotiations could be reopened prior to 2023.

Trash contract

Council adopted legislation to contract with Rumpke of Northern Ohio for trash and recycling services from 2023-2025. The village pays Rumpke for each home served.  The charge will be $16.75 per house in 2023; $17.42 in 2024 and $18.12 in 2025.

Rumpke also serves Richfield Township. The village and township worked together to get the lowest cost.

Development agreement

Council adopted a resolution to approve a development agreement with Brecksville Road Associates. The group owns property at 5145 Brecksville Rd. Five buildings are located on the property. The developer requested and council approved that two buildings could be sold separately, despite not being located on a dedicated roadway and not meeting zoning requirements for front and back setbacks.

At an earlier meeting, Frantz said in exchange for granting the property division, Brecksville Road Associates would help improve traffic flow into and out of the property, using the new Allega Way for left turns onto Brecksville Road.

Waszak voted against the resolution, saying the lot split results in no required setback on the front of the parcels. ∞