Save Hessler Road!
December 7, 2021
To: City of Cleveland, Board of Zoning Appeals
RE: December 13, 2021 Board of Zoning Appeals (BOZA) — Calendar №21–152: 11300 Hessler Rd., Calendar №21–173: 1975 Ford Dr. and Calendar №21–174: 1981 Ford Dr.
We, the undersigned Joan and Arthur Hargate are interested property owners and provide objections, comments and information pertinent to the above referenced cases. We own property and live in Little Italy.
We assert standing as interested property owners because precedents in this case will affect future decisions of the BOZA that will affect development in Little Italy where we live. Further, persons representing University Circle institutions routinely provide comments and information in property development cases in Little Italy and assert as a matter of habit that Little Italy is part of the “Greater University Circle Area.” Finally, Little Italy is at times grouped into the “University” neighborhood by the Planning Commission of the City of Cleveland.
We object to the granting of the variances requested for the following reasons:
1)There is without question an opportunity for “any beneficial use of the property without the variance.” Opponents to these variances living on Hessler Road and in the surrounding area, who are in the best position to know how the property can best be used, have ample examples of their preferences for use of the property, if only the City of Cleveland would listen to them.
2) The variances requested are substantial and their granting substantially alters the character of the neighborhood, as the many opponents living closest in proximity to these properties have attested repeatedly. The neighbors, many of whom are long time residents and will have to live with the effects of these variances, are in the best position to understand the character of the neighborhood and direct its trajectory.
3) As such, these residents of Hessler Road and the surrounding area are convinced and have provided ample evidence that adjoining properties will suffer a substantial detriment if these variances are granted.
4) The variance to parking is egregious and will adversely affect the delivery of governmental services by creating additional automobile congestion in an already deeply congested area.
5) It is highly likely the predicament would be feasibly resolved through other methods than the variance, had the community been given a fair opportunity to have input in the initial planning stages of the project. As is usually the case in the University Circle area, the project was conceived, planned and delivered as a “done deal” in a “top-down” manner without serious consideration of the neighborhood’s interests. In fact, it appeared as if the community was intentionally kept in the dark and public participation was purposely constrained, as it has appeared to be the pattern with property development projects in the area. It’s not too late to do this right and actually engage the community in a process that balances the interests with a degree of equity.
6) The spirit and intent of the zoning requirements are being ignored if a variance is granted and the only justice done by granting the variance is to serve profit motivated interests to the detriment of the people that live in the neighborhood and in the buildings present on Ford Rd.
It should be further noted that the opponents to this project are not NIMBY’s, racists, xenophobes, anti-development or anti-Cleveland, as they tend to be portrayed by property development proponents and their boosters in the media. The opponents to this project simply want their neighborhood to retain its existing essential character and to protect their interests in its infrastructure.
No one is opposed to density, and no one is opposed to vibrancy. We are vigorously opposed to density being forced upon us as a cover for cash generating gentrification without the proper infrastructure to support it. Infrastructure includes proper parking, traffic enforcement, law enforcement presence, access by safety and trash collection vehicles, green space and tree canopy, access to broadband, bike safety, sufficient utility services and walkability, among other things.
“Density” translated means profitability to developers and potential income tax to the City of Cleveland. It is also not at all clear how students and workers in the University Circle area benefit from the hyper-inflationary spiral of rents we are seeing in the area. It is clear how developers and the City of Cleveland benefit. And students, employees and existing residents pay dearly.
The essential character of the neighborhood is being radically altered and existing residents are being priced out of it and displaced. Granting of these variances only furthers the destructive trend that makes affordable housing in the “Greater University Circle Area” a pipe dream. It is high time to put people on a level playing field with profits.
Joan and Arthur Hargate
(Photo by J.E. Hargate)