by Sue Serdinak
May 2 village council meeting
Planning and Zoning Director Brian Franz presented photos and data about trucks parking in unauthorized locations and storage containers being used for cheap storage throughout the village.
Police Chief Michael Swanson said there are many incidents involving transient truckers parking in Richfield and nefarious activities that occur around the parked vehicles. “We literally have fist fights over the parking spots,” he said, adding that the litter is terrible in areas where they park.
Federal regulations require that over-the-road truckers must rest for 10 hours after 11 hours of driving. Truck drivers search for places to park when their 11-hour limit approaches.
Frantz said property owners are renting parking spaces, and a cottage industry of truck parking has cropped up, mostly in the north end of town. He said the village does not permit semi-truck parking on any property. “We have never issued a conditional zoning certificate for a commercial parking permit.”
In addition to truck cabs and trailers parking in the village, Frantz showed photos of trailers that have been dropped from rigs and left in the village. Often the trailers remain for several days.
Councilperson Jeff Stoppenhagen said the Pilot gas station is obviously a truck stop and asked if its permit allows truck parking.
“We don’t know that we approved extended parking for Pilot,” said Frantz. “They have lots of parking and logistical problems on that property. This type of land use requires a lot of demand on our services. … We aren’t seeing any tax dollars in return. If we had an outright prohibition it would be easier. … It is bad now but is only going to get worse, if we don’t address the matter.”
“We need direction,’’ Frantz said. “Is it an outright prohibition – who enforces it? … Once we involve the law director there is a cost involved.”
Law director Ben Chojnacki said there are provisions in the code to address the issues and that the administration is asking council how it wants the administration to proceed.
Some rigs and trailers have refrigeration units that require truck engines to idle while parked. The noise is constant, according to Berkley Drive resident Marty Kruszynski, who has complained about this for years.
“We have to roll up our sleeves for the residents on this,” he said.
Kruszynski recommended installing signs in the village directing truck drivers to rest areas.
Another resident, Denise Ready, said there is potential for someone to acquire property and open it as a parking lot in an appropriate district.
Frantz reported that an increasing number of rented storage and shipping containers are being used throughout the village in residential and commercial zones. He said they are often rusted and deteriorated.
“What we think is happening is that they are being used as long-term storage,” said Frantz.
He acknowledged that containers are used for storage on the Brecksville Road property the village recently purchased. “We should be a good stewards,” he said.
Councilperson Jeff Stoppenhagen asked, “What do you need from us?”
Said Mayor Mike Wheeler, “We will work with the law director and then planning and zoning on this.”
Maintenance on century buildings
The two century buildings in the center of Richfield have peeling paint and other issues related to age.
Scott Wallenhorst, an architect with Heart Design Group, evaluated the Fellowship Hall and the Historical Museum. He said that rather than scrape and repaint the buildings, covering them with James Hardie cement board siding would better protect the buildings and save money over time, although the initial cost would be higher. He added that siding adds to the insulation factor and provides a bit of a vapor barrier.
He recommended choosing a siding color that is pre-finished from the manufacturer and added the installation of siding would not affect the appearance of Fellowship Hall. However, the museum would lose some historical features if the siding were installed, because the detailed trim work would not be replicated.
Councilperson Ralph Waszak suggested the trim might be removed and re-attached after the siding is installed. Wallenhorst said he would look for sources of manufactured trim.
Service Director Scott Waldemarson said the windows in Fellowship Hall were installed in 1980 and should be replaced. He said the museum windows are aluminum, single-pane over the original windows.
“We likely won’t be able to match what is there,” he said.
Wheeler said windows should be replaced at the same time buildings are sided, and he named a Chicago-based company that specializes in custom-made windows. He asked about the condition of the roofs.
Wallenhorst said he did not evaluate the roofs. Waldemarson said the museum has a slate roof, and Fellowship Hall has a shingle roof in decent shape.
Council suspended readings and passed legislation to enter into an agreement with Summit County engineers to repave Revere and Everett roads.
They also passed a motion to accept a Summit County ReWorks grant for $3,779 for curbside recycling.
They unanimously approved a $44,300 bid from R.B. Stout Inc. for landscaping village-owned property around the future site of the Richfield Brewery. Additional landscaping was added to the south of the property to provide additional screening from residents.
There was first reading of a resolution to purchase playground equipment for Richfield Woods Park from Snider Recreation Inc. at a cost not to exceed $110,888. Councilperson Charles Boester questioned how much the company was charging for the design of the playground, noting that the playground area has not changed and the equipment replaces older equipment.
Wheeler said he would check on that before the legislation is brought before council again.
Fire Chief George Seifert reported another challenging extrication by the department on the Ohio Turnpike May 1. A man was pinned under the dash of his crashed van by two-1,000 pound rolls of aluminum. Fire fighters cut off the roof of the van to remove the heavy rolls from atop the victim.
The MedEvac helicopter could not fly to the scene because of poor weather, but the rescue squad drove him to the hospital in time to save his life.
Five members of the fire department and two from the police department will be licensed to fly the village drones, following recent training.
The police department lobby has a drop box for unused medicines. However, syringes cannot be disposed of in the box. The detective bureau will accept them. Residents are asked to call the department at 330-659-9500 before dropping them off. ∞