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City of Cleveland Planning Commission begins pilot program to place signs at Board of Zoning Appeals case sites

SCREEN SHOT BY LAURA CYROCKI

Monday, August 22nd Virtual Meeting of the Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals: At the end of the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) meeting on August 22nd, Maurice Ruelens, Chief City Planner for the Cleveland Planning Commission, shared with the board information about a new pilot program. Ruelens said he will be posting signs on BZA case sites. The signs are intended to alert neighbors about upcoming meetings concerning developers’ requests for variances. The signs are to be posted two weeks in advance of the BZA hearings, said Ruelens.

City of Cleveland Planning Commission begins pilot program to place signs at Board of Zoning Appeals case sites

(Plain Press, September 2022)       At the end of the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) meeting on August 22nd, Maurice Ruelens, Chief City Planner for the Cleveland Planning Commission, shared with the board information about a new pilot program. Ruelens said he will be posting signs on BZA case sites when he goes out to take photos of the properties. The signs are intended to alert neighbors about upcoming meetings concerning developers’ requests for variances. The signs are to be posted two weeks in advance of the BZA hearings, said Ruelens. The signs will be in addition to letters already sent out to residents of properties close to the property requesting a variance.

   The signs have a large ZN with Zoning Notice printed below that. On the sign there is space to add information by hand under the following headings: Case #, Address, Description, Hearing Date/Time and Location. Also, on the sign is a QR Code that Ruelens says will take people right to the Board of Zoning Appeals Website. The BZA phone number and its website address are also printed on the sign.

   Ruelens said that City Planning Commission staff have been talking about instituting these signs for quite a while and finally got some made. He said a Planning Commission staff member designed the signs. Ruelens said the signs are an “attempt to make sure we are transparent about applications and that everyone in the neighborhood knows what is going on. A lot of communities around the country are doing this, so we decided we would do it too.”

   For places that don’t have a tree lawn to put a sign on, Ruelens said a poster will be mailed to applicants to post in a primary window or primary façade that is facing the street.

   Several Board of Zoning Appeals members said they thought the signs looked nice.

   Some community members also had some thoughts about the placement of the signs. Council of Cleveland Neighborhoods member Laura Cyrocki said she felt any effort by the City of Cleveland to increase transparency was a good thing.

   Architect David Ellison, also a member of the Council of Cleveland Neighborhoods, said he thought the signs looked too much like real estate signs. He suggested that a more official looking sign with a City of Cleveland logo and the actual wording of the variance request attached in fine print on the sign would be more appropriate.

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