City Concerned With Flash Mobs?

Council Vice-President Brian Powers called the September 19, 2011 Council meeting to order at 7:34 P.M. The first order of business was to excuse the absence of Council President Mary Louise Madigan, who was absent due to a prior work commitment. Council did so unanimously.

Next Council Woman Monique Smith (At-Large) introduced the members of the Community Relations Advisory Commission who were present to deliver their semi-annual reports. Reverend Paula Maeder Connor, one of the Commission’s Co-Chairs was present to deliver their report to Council. She started by discussing the things they have been working on for the last year including holding diversity potlucks and facilitating a youth discussion concentrating on ‘What it is like to grow up in Lakewood.’ They have also worked on putting together information and strategies the City can use when educating residents about the anti-idling law. She then discussed things that they would like to work on in the coming year. These included seeing more use of our parks including the possible addition of a Park Ambassador, more utilization of the opportunities Wagar Park could provide and finally, more free activities for kids in Lakewood.

Council thanked all the members of the Commission for all of their hard work. They then voted to receive and file the report.

Human Services Director, Dorothy Buckon, then asked Council to pass a resolution acknowledging Cox Cleveland and Cox Charities Cleveland for their support of Lakewood’s H2O (Help to Others) program. H2O received one of five grants from the Cox Charities Cleveland Employee Grant Program that went to middle school summer camp programs. Their donations helped support H2O’s tenth anniversary celebration, educational and promotional video production and ‘digital age safety education' for parents.

After a few words from a representative of Cox, council proceeded to pass the resolution.

Councilman Tom Bullock (Ward II) then read a communication from the Public Works Committee regarding and ordinance that updates a previous ordinance that was passed by Council regarding the replacement of the Detroit Avenue traffic signals. The amendments of the ordinance include increasing contracting authority to allow for more stylish traffic poles and the replacement of the light at Lakeland which was originally slated to be removed. The Committee recommended adoption, however Bullock wanted to mention that they also had a discussion that carries over to other areas of Lakewood as well. The reason they chose to keep the Lakeland light is due to the building of a CVS on that block. Bullock stated that the possible developments of a McDonald's in the area of Woodard and Hall Avenues would similarly change the traffic patterns and should be considered as well. He asked the City to consider doing a traffic study to see where those intersections stand today and do projections as to how that development would impact the traffic flow. Bullock said that as the changes in the ordinance he just recommended for passage stand right now, there is no change to the plan to not replace the light at Hall, leaving no traffic lights at any intersection around the proposed McDonald's.

Before voting on the ordinance Councilman Bullock asked if Mayor Mike Summers would respond to the concerns raised, and the proposed traffic study. The Mayor said that they have been committed from the beginning to collecting the appropriate data and have already gathered information from Woodward regarding the traffic volume. He continued saying they had plans of expanding that data collection to Edwards and Wagar as well. The new traffic capacity analyzer that the City is using can measure and collect data for traffic volume, time of day and speed which has more dimensions than the city was previously able to collect. In this situation, time of day and speed are invaluable to understanding the specific traffic patterns and issues that the area faces. The City has already begun discussions with a traffic consulting and engineering firm to interpret the data and discuss possible strategies to fix any possible issues. The Mayor said that they would of course include the residents in the discussions and that several different things can be considered such as traffic-calming engineering or making part of the street one way. The Mayor closed his remarks saying they still have some work ahead of them, but they will do what they can to create a solution that works for the residents.

After the Mayor’s comments the Council proceeded to vote on the above ordinance and passed it.

Coincidentally, another item discussed at the meeting was also directly connected to the proposed McDonald's development. Director of Planning and Development, Dru Siley asked Council to consider an ordinance regarding the use of drive-throughs in Lakewood. After hearing of the McDonald's proposal Councilman David Anderson (Ward I) asked the City to look at our current ordinances to see if there was a way to strengthen them regarding drive-through use. That research lead to the ordinance Director Siley asked Council to pass. The main change is making drive-through use conditionally permitted. Right now all commercial properties are allowed to have drive-throughs as it is something not restricted by the City. This ordinance would change that and require all interested businesses to apply for a conditional permit to have a drive-through. The ordinance also goes into more detail about what is allowed regarding traffic, light, trash and pedestrian safety.

Council placed the ordinance on first reading and referred it to the Planning Commission.

The next item on the agenda was presented by the Assistant Fire Chief in the absence of Fire Chief Gilman. The Assistant Fire Chief asked Council to pass a resolution allowing the City to accept a $500 dollar donation from the Kiwanis Club so they can purchase a pediatric backboard for Squad 4. Council appreciated the donation and gladly passed the resolution.

The Assistant Chief then asked Council to pass another resolution proclaiming the week of October 3-7th as Fire Prevention Week in Lakewood. The Fire Prevention Bureau will be out visiting elementary schools and educating children about the importance of smoke alarms and home fire escape plans. This yea'rs theme is “Protect your Family From Fire” and focuses on the simple actions one can take to stay safe from fire.

Council passed the resolution.

Director of Public Works, Joseph Beno, then asked Council to pass a pair of resolutions allowing the City to apply for funds from the Ohio Public Works Commission for two separate projects. The first consists of the replacement of three 90-100 year old water mains; St. Charles, from Detroit to Franklin, Summit, from Detroit to Clifton, and Mars from Athens to Delaware. The City is seeking $645,000 dollars from the state which comprises about 60% of the project budget. The City would pay the remaining 40%, about $430,000 dollars, with a project total of about $1,075,000 dollars.

The second project requiring that the City apply for funds is a repavement of Madison, from Riverside to 117th. The City is seeking $1,141,950 dollars from the state. The City’s estimated cost would be the same as the state's and would be added to $250,000 dollars from the County with a total project cost of about $2,533,900 dollars.

Council passed both resolutions.

The last major topic on the agenda was a letter from Law Director, Kevin Butler regarding legislation to prevent, control or prosecute flash mobs. Director Butler notes that several cities across the country, including ones close to home, notably Cleveland and Elyria, have tried to pass legislation to control or prevent flash mobs. However in those two cases neither law was passed, one on the basis of the First Amendment. Director Butler said that council members had raised concerns about whether the city had the proper laws to handle a disruptive flash mob, and after his research he concluded the City’s laws are adequate to disperse, and if necessary, prosecute the actions of unruly flash mobs.

Coming to the end of the agenda items, Council opened the floor up for public comment. Several residents were there from the Woodward Avenue neighborhood to discuss their displeasure at the Architectural Board of Review’s passage of McDonald's site plan. They brought up several points and suggested changes to the plan. Both the Mayor and Director Siley responded to their concerns and the public comment session lasted about half an hour. At this point Council Vice President adjourned the meeting, at 9:32 P.M. However this did not stop the discussion. The residents of Woodward stayed and continued to discuss several of the issues and their concerns with the Mayor and Director Siley until nearly 10 P.M.

Council meetings are held every first and third Monday of the month at 7:30 P.M. in the City Hall Auditorium. The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be held on October 17, 2011. For a copy of the agenda or for any other information regarding the Lakewood City Council, you can find it at onelakewood.com/citygovern_council.html.

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Volume 7, Issue 21, Posted 10:01 AM, 10.05.2011