Council members two weeks ago hosted public hearings on the annexation proposal and its accompanying Plan of Services, before giving preliminary approval on a series of unopposed votes. Two Council members passed on a couple of the votes, but no one opposed.
The early afternoon work session and the subsequent voting session two hours later were both attended by county residents expressing mixed emotions over the annexation plans.
Most opposed the plans, one favored them, several were seeking clarification and information, and almost all speakers asked that their respective areas be represented in future developmental planning if the annexation proposal goes forward.
The four areas proposed for annexation include:
n Areas 1A and 1B: Located near the intersection of Benton Pike and Michigan Avenue Road and comprise about .28-square miles. This is the site that will house the new LEED-certified, $120 million manufacturing facility to be built by Whirlpool Corporation. The project will include a 1 million square-foot manufacturing plant and a 400,000-square-foot warehouse.
n Area 2: Comprised of about .38 square miles, this area is located north of APD-40.
n Area 3: Comprised of about .38 square miles also, this area is located south of APD-40.
n Area 4: Comprised of about .72 square miles, this site is located south of Exit 20 off Interstate 75.
Located near the McDonald community, Area 4 is the site getting most opposition. Some opposition has been voiced within Area 2. Most Area 4 residents addressing the City Council two weeks ago opposed the plan; however, they also acknowledged the proposal will probably move forward. If the Council does ultimately approve the annexation plan, residents are asking for representation in the developmental process.
Area 4 opponents question whether the area is right for an industrial setting. They also have concerns about its impact on storm runoff, potential flooding, sewage spills, water quality, noise pollution and overall effect on the environment.
As a compromise with impacted residents, the Cleveland Municipal Planning Commission voted to zone the site Light Industrial after earlier considering it for Heavy Industrial. However, one area resident — Pamela Rymer O’Dwyer, and her husband John Chandler, whose farm is not directly impacted but who were asked by community neighbors to speak on their behalf — countered, “Light is not necessarily better than heavy. This is the wrong place for an industrial park.”
Matt Bentley, a resident of the McDonald and Black Fox communities, favored the Area 4 annexation plan; however, he urged City Council members and economic development leaders to allow the community a voice in development.
“This is a piece of property in the back yard of a very rural community,” Bentley said.
Bentley, along with other area residents, praised the work of Doug Berry, vice president of economic development for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, who has worked with the community in helping residents to understand the reasoning behind the annexation proposals.
Monday’s votes on the annexation proposals will be taken as individual ordinances. The first, labeled as Ordinance No. 2010-33, will be considered for final passage as part of the Council’s Consent Agenda. This will be the site known as Area 1 which is the Whirlpool plant property located near the Benton Pike and Michigan Avenue Road intersection.
The other three annexation proposals will be considered for final passage under “Unfinished Business.” They are Ordinance No. 2010-35 which is Area 2, the site north of APD-40 between U.S. Highway 11 and Interstate 75; Ordinance No. 2010-36 which is Area 3, the site south of APD-40 between U.S. Highway 11 and Interstate 75; and Ordinance No. 2010-37 which is Area 4, the site south of Exit 20 on Interstate 75.
All four areas being considered for annexation are within the city’s Urban Growth Boundary.
The City Council will meet twice Monday — at 2 p.m. for work session and 4 p.m. voting session. The voting session agenda includes the annexation items. Both sessions are open to the public.