December 9, 2021

The meeting of the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission (County Planning) was called to order by Councilperson Simon at 2:00 p.m. and the roll call showed a quorum was present.

Councilperson Simon chaired the meeting.

On a motion by Mayor Sellers, seconded by Mayor Byrne, the minutes for the November 18, 2021, meeting were duly adopted by unanimous vote with Mayor Bobst and Councilperson Conwell abstaining.

Councilperson Simon announced and welcomed the newest member of the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission – Councilperson Yvonne Conwell – who replaced Councilperson Shontel Brown as a Governing Board member and whose Council wards represents two-thirds of the City of Cleveland and the University Circle area.

Executive Director Cierebiej also welcomed and thanked Councilperson Conwell for serving on the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission and noted that Mr.  Joe Nanni was named as her appointed alternate.  Director Cierebiej also recognized outgoing Board members Mayor Gammella and Mayor Byrne, who is retiring from public service; and alternate Kahil Seren who is Mayor-elect in the City of Cleveland Heights.


Resolution No. 211209-A requesting the approval of the City of Parma Targeted Parking & Transportation Analysis.
Director Cierebiej was made aware that the board packet did not include information regarding Resolution number 211209-A. Director Cierebiej apologized for the oversight and requested a staff member to print copies for the board. While copies of the Resolution and background memo were being produced, Ms. Meghan Chaney, Senior Planner of the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission (County Planning) introduced and presented an overview of the Parma Targeted Parking and Transportation Analysis.  It was noted that parking is viewed as a challenge in most communities in Cuyahoga County and so County Planning is considering conducting a County-wide Parking Study sometime in 2022, but Ms. Chaney explained that the City of Parma approached the County Planning for a more immediate need of a targeted parking analysis.

Ms. Chaney presented an overview of the Parma Targeted Parking and Transportation Analysis.  She explained that the focus is on three main corridors – State Road, Pearl Road, and Ridge Road – and to improve patronage of businesses located there.  The Analysis would include a digital inventory of all on- and off-street parking in proximity to each of these three main street corridors.  The Analysis will also include a utilization study which looks at patterns of where the on- and off-street parking is occurring and the time-of-day usage of parking within these main three corridors. Staff will supplement the digital data with conducting walk-throughs of these corridors to observe these patterns during both weekdays and a weekend.  A review of the City of Parma’s Zoning Code and Parking regulations will be conducted as well as a review of neighboring cities’ zoning regulations on parking.

Deliverables of the Parma Targeted Parking and Transportation Analysis include creation of a comprehensive strategy for an effective use of land; creative and attractive parking solutions; as well as transit-oriented strategies.  A series of zoning code recommendations will follow as another deliverable of the Parma Study.

Ms. Chaney noted that the Study is valued at an estimated total cost of $45,000 with the understanding that County Planning will provide $10,000 in in-kind professional services as part of the Study and the City of Parma will provide $35,000 to County Planning for this project.  An end date of July, 2022 is an estimated for its completion.

There was no additional discussion but there were several questions.  Mayor Bobst confirmed that the cost of the contract with the City of Parma will be $35,000 to be paid by the City and asked about how many staff individuals will assist in this project.  Ms. Chaney responded that it will be a team effort with herself leading the effort and another participating planner in the office as well as the assistance of County Planning’s GIS Team.  Councilperson Simon acknowledged and welcomed Ms. Chaney who recently returned to a full-time position with County Planning after a hiatus as a consultant.  Councilperson Simon also asked about how this Study may relate to the TOD Zoning Study that was introduced at the November, 2021 Board meeting.  Ms. Chaney responded that there are similar elements between the two projects and their recommendations will inform the other.  Councilperson Simon asked and Ms. Chaney agreed that permeable pavement and other environmental considerations will be looked at as part of this parking study.  Lastly Mayor Bobst inquired about “shared” parking arrangements and noted shared parking agreements that exist in Rocky River between businesses have worked well.  Ms. Chaney confirmed that shared parking solutions will be included in the Parma Study and recognized how “green” solutions also improve the pedestrian experience.

Board members received the Resolution, Contract and Briefing Memo for the Parma Parking Study during Ms. Chaney’s presentation. On a motion by Councilperson Simon, seconded by Mayor Brennan, Resolution No. 211209-A requesting the approval of the City of Parma Targeted Parking & Transportation Analysis, was duly adopted by unanimous vote.

First Suburbs Single Family Zoning Analysis Update & Next Steps
Mr. Patrick Hewitt opened by explaining that this multi-phase project is being conducted on behalf of the Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium and in partnership with the Cuyahoga County Land Bank.  Phase 1 of the project looked at Single Family Zoning in the first ring suburbs of Cuyahoga County.  It was noted that the Study was in response to the recent recession within the last decade where foreclosed homes in the area were demolished and left a hole in the neighborhood often referenced to as “missing teeth” in the neighborhood.  While the goal after demolition is to replace and rebuild a house on these vacant lots, many municipal zoning codes do not allow in-fill housing that matches the physical dimensions of the surrounding homes in that neighborhood on that now vacant lot. A review of zoning codes of first-ring suburbs revealed that current zoning requirements stand in the way of rebuilding homes that resemble the neighboring houses and neighborhood character.

Mr. Hewitt shared slides and graphics showing the existing structures and parcels of land that surround the vacant lot and demonstrated that current zoning code requirements do not allow the width, depth, and size for new construction that matches the neighboring houses. Coupled with other zoning requirements including height limitations and front, rear and side yard setbacks, the remaining buildable area of the lot cannot support in-fill housing in scale with neighboring houses. Ultimately, these zoning problems create barriers for new development where lots take longer to be developed and are often more expensive because of these challenges and delays.

The goal of Phase 1 was to identify issues within zoning regulations that make redevelopment difficult and/or not cost effective. Future phases of this project will include best practices to improve zoning regulations in order to make infill housing easier, updating codes and tracking infill housing over time. The project includes five tasks: 1.) Project Initiation which was an overview of infill housing in the First Suburbs including trends; 2.) Identify Single-Family Zoning Districts and gathering regulations in a chart form; 3.) Compare regulations to existing lots and structures to identify where “points of conflict” exist; and lastly 4.) Identify potential lots and locations for new infill housing.

Mr. Hewitt reported that they surveyed member communities of the First Suburbs Consortium. County Planning asked several questions about the effectiveness of the community’s existing zoning regulations to allow infill development which many rated as only somewhat or average effective. County Planning also inquired about specific areas that member communities found problematic and learned that primary structure setbacks were the biggest barrier, but minimum lot size requirements, accessory structure setbacks for garages or sheds, maximum lot coverage, approval processes, and design requirements as other issues to address. First Ring member communities surveyed also reported that they consider infill housing development as a middle to high priority.

County Planning then analyzed and compiled the survey results with its research of the nineteen member communities and organized data into comparable charts by topic. For instance, minimum lot size was analyzed among 55 zoning districts – primarily single-family districts – in the First Suburbs member communities. In total, thirteen different topics were categorized and analyzed in chart form comparing existing requirements. Mapping was completed for five of these topics to show the spatial distributions of that topic within the First Suburbs and pinpoint those issues. Mapping also allowed for identification of all the available infill lots within the First Suburbs Consortium communities. County Planning estimates that there are more than 5,300 potential parcels that qualify for new infill development, which translates into 11,000 potential new residents n those infill lots given the average household size of 2.1 persons per household. County Planning also reviewed current incentives that member communities are providing and found that sixteen of the nineteen First Suburbs provide some sort of incentive for new infill housing development.

 These findings, analysis and maps are being compiled in a report which will inform the next phase and ultimately demonstrate several conclusions:

  • That many current zoning regulations are not geared towards supporting desired infill development;
  • That many existing houses are non-conforming under current regulations;
  • That community’s zoning codes and regulations have been updated at different times at different stages or not at all;
  • That community regulations vary greatly among communities.
  • That not all communities regulate everything which is okay;
  • That many communities’ zoning maps are out-of-date or non-existent.

Although County Planning found widespread differences and discrepancies among the nineteen zoning codes examined for the First Suburbs member communities, the comprehensive review and analysis from Phase 1 could answer questions and help inform a community where they may need to tighten their codified language from other communities that had better regulations to support infill development. The analysis also revealed that some communities have the more infill opportunities than others, with the mapping data showing clusters on the eastside of Cuyahoga County and thirteen of the nineteen member communities had more than 100 vacant infill lots available.

The next Phase, Phase 2, is a future contract with the First Suburbs Consortium and is slated to include five tasks:

  1. Review and discussion of the importance of infill development;
  2. Code Updates – best practices guide and model overlay districts and model codes. County Planning intends to engage two pilot communities at a reduced cost to
  3. Design Guidelines guidebook
  4. Outline incentives to attract infill development
  5. To track infill development over time in these communities.

Mr. Hewitt thanked a team of people including the First Suburbs Consortium, Mayor Sellers- its immediately preceding Chairman, the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, and the cities of South Euclid and Maple Heights for their biweekly participation on this project.  Mayor Sellers also spoke and thanked Mr. Hewitt and Executive Director Cierebiej on this important project.  Mayor Sellers reinforced the realization that many communities didn’t have the resources and regulations to support desired infill development after many teardowns occurred and recognized that this is the first step in a multi-phase study to ultimately provide a template for infill housing development. Mayor Sellers also recognized the great participation of the member communities and the direction that County Planning is heading with this project.

Several questions followed the presentation.  Mayor Bobst inquired about access to the report and its findings.  Mr. Hewitt responded that the report is still being compiled and is in draft form and that while some elements will be available online, not all the findings will reside there.  Mayor Sellers added that the First Suburbs would be willing to share the information upon request.  Councilperson Conwell inquired if the findings and maps are compiled by community or in total.  Mr. Hewitt responded that a packet for each of the 19 member communities is being prepared by community and made available to them, as well as combined geography maps. Mr. Hewitt was questioned and clarified that the report and its finding reflect a point-in-time review of vacant lots and infill development opportunities and although future demolitions and potential infill projects may be included in future phases of this study with the active participation of the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, the intent of the County Planning’s study is to review and analyze zoning.

Director Cierebiej thanked her team for the great work they are doing and introduced an agenda for her report.  Director Cierebiej began with highlights from 2021 including two new hires, retention of all County Planning staff, and hosting three interns during the year.  It was noted that Ms. Meghan Chaney rejoined the County Planning staff now as a full-time, permanent staff member and that Laura Mendez Ortiz, a previous University of Cincinnati intern was also hired as a permanent, full-time staff member.  Director Cierebiej also acknowledged Ms. Sarah Tengen who joined the County Planning Commission from the University of Cincinnati and thanked her for her work as an intern this semester as she will be returning to school next semester.  It was noted that given turnover at other agencies and outside companies, that County Planning retained all its staff during another year of COVID-19 challenges.

Director Cierebiej reported that during her first year that four new Agency policies were either created or revised in 2021.  These included a professional development policy which didn’t exist when Director Cierebiej started and was deemed very important given the number of certified planners on the team and keeping their credentials current. A Remote Work Policy was created, and a Paid Parental Leave Policy was added to be more in line with Cuyahoga County’s policy. Juneteenth was also added as an Observed holiday. Director Cierebiej acknowledged that there are other sections that need to be reviewed and updated and she will be working with the County Law Department on those.

It was announced that the County Planning Commission has assisted in securing over a million dollars in grant funding for the Lakefront project. Director Cierebiej thanked individual Planning Commission staff and Department of Public Works staff as well as SmithGroup, a private consulting firm who are all working on this effort.  Not only has the project received $1.15 million in funding but applications totaling more than $7.5 million in grants have recently been prepared and submitted for this project. Director Cierebiej acknowledged that these are critically important grant dollars to move these Lakefront projects forward.

Director Cierebiej also announced that County Planning generated $262,000 in outside revenue in 2021. She recognized that County Planning  has been able to generate those dollars through contracts and agreements it holds with communities in Cuyahoga County.  It was noted that while County Planning has done the work, these dollars generated are deposited back into the County’s General Fund which supports overall budget of the County, including the County Planning.

A total of six plans were completed in 2021 including Woodmere, Brooklyn, Broadview Heights, Solon, Westlake, and the Community Confluence Study – a TLCI plan that included the communities of Lakewood and Rocky River.  Director Cierebiej reported that County Planning had also signed six contracts for professional planning services this year and is administering another $950,000 in Healthy Urban Tree Canopy (HUTC) grants, so it is an understatement to say that the County Planning Commission is busy. The 2019 HUTC program which had some delays because of COVID was officially closed out this year, and the 2021 program which is in progress had a high number of Fall plantings, and so County Planning expects to receive a high number of reimbursement requests.

County Planning also helped evaluate 42 State Capital Improvement Program (SCIP) and 8 Clean Ohio Program applications.  Director Cierebiej noted that the SCIP program provides about $31 million dollars in grants and loans for projects in Cuyahoga County. Preliminary recommendations for SCIP-funded projects were posted on December 6th, 2021. The Clean Ohio program has approximately $3.6 million dollars available. Director Cierebiej thanked individual County Planning staff members for their efforts and program support.

Director Cierebiej also reported that County Planning has been assisting the newly created Department of Equity and Inclusion. She noted that County Planning drafted and prepared Equity Zone maps to be presented to the County Executive and share its methodology to be used by all County Departments for making future investment decisions.

County Planning published several reports this year including the Our Communities Data Book, the Regional Data Book and most recently, the Resource Funding Guide to be released next week.

Director Cierebiej reported that County Planning continues to advance the mission and work of the County Greenways Partners.  She acknowledged individual staff contributions to convene 13 of the 15 Ohio District Offices with 8 key officials themselves participating in these virtual meetings to discuss trails and connectivity in Cuyahoga County.

County Planning provides ongoing assistance and support to other county Departments especially the GIS Department which Director Cierebiej would like to highlight more of their work in the new year.

The 2022 outlook for County Planning includes securing an intern from Cleveland State University for the Spring semester (January through early May). Given the amount of work that County Planning has, there are continued discussions with the University of Cincinnati for an intern placement and new discussions with the Cleveland Foundation for a summer intern. County Planning is also applying for a competitive yearlong placement of a Cleveland Foundation fellow beginning in September, 2022 through August, 2023.  These hires will assist with the long list of active projects that the County Planning Commission is engaged in like Transit-Oriented Development, the Lakefront Plan, and the Tree Canopy grants. Director Cierebiej commented that this workload, and all of the assistance that County Planning provides countywide, and to County departments, compared to staff capacity will be evaluated to determine whether or not Planning Grants will be made available in 2022. Director Cierebiej reported that she is evaluating how best to assist communities and the Executive Agencies within the County and will be presenting a Go-Forward strategy in early 2022 on how to best support the communities of Cuyahoga County.

Director Cierebiej reported on the 2022-2023 biennial budget. Director Cierebiej thanked County Council for all their support during this process and noted that she had presented at the Budget Hearing and asked for Agency’s operating budget to be restored in both 2022 and 2023. County Planning’s biennial budget was presented as a Budget Amendment and on December 7th, 2021 and County Council voted to approve the amended budget. County Planning is awaiting confirmation from the Office of Budget & Management (OBM) that its two-year operating budget was indeed restored to support approved FTEs.

County Planning is working closely with the Office of Regional Collaboration and the Executive’s Office on Board appointments expiring this year. New Board members will likely be appointed at the February, 2022 Board meeting given election results and retirements. A 2022 schedule of meetings was mentioned by Director Cierebiej and distributed to all Board members in their board packet so limit any conflicts with the future scheduled Board meetings and the location of those meetings.

Director Cierebiej thanked her team for their support as well as the Governing Board’s support of her leadership since she started in January, 2021, now almost a whole year since she started, she expressed her pride for the County Planning team.  Councilperson Simon thanked Director Cierebiej for her work to date and leadership especially given COVID challenges

Councilperson Simon again acknowledged retiring Mayor Byrne’s service on the Planning Commission, and Mayor Byrne responded with humor and grace.

There was no new business.

No requests for public comment.

On a motion by Councilperson Simon, seconded by Councilperson Conwell, the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission meeting was adjourned at 2:54 p.m.

Next tentative meeting is scheduled for January 13, 2022.


At 2:55 p.m.

December 9, 2021

Mayor Pamela BobstYes
Mayor Michael Dylan BrennanYes
Councilperson Yvonne ConwellYes
Mayor Michael ByrneYes
Director Freddie CollierNo
Director Michael DeverNo
Mayor Anthony DiCiccoNo
Mayor Michael GammellaNo
Mayor Michael ProcukYes
Mayor Brad SellersYes
Councilperson Sunny SimonYes