BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, Ohio – Mayor Sam Alai said Broadview Heights developer Sam Petros never spoke to him regarding a proposed 60-lot subdivision in southwest Brecksville.
Alai made the statement to Broadview Heights City Council on July 5, about one month after Petros – speaking to the Brecksville Planning Commission on June 9 – suggested that Broadview Heights officials agreed to “cooperate” with him on the proposed Brecksville subdivision and possibly provide emergency medical and other municipal services there.
“We have no agreement with the city of Brecksville and we have no agreement with any developer,” Alai told council July 5.
Petros would build the Brecksville subdivision at the Broadview Heights border, just south of the Ohio Turnpike. The only access would be from Wilmington Drive off Boston Road in Broadview Heights.
On Monday, Petros acknowledged to cleveland.com that, prior to the June 9 Brecksville planning commission meeting, he did not talk to Alai about the proposed Brecksville subdivision.
Rather, Petros said his attorney had a general discussion with Broadview Heights Law Director Vince Ruffa about shared-service agreements among municipalities. However, they did not discuss the proposed Brecksville subdivision specifically.
“We talked to the law director (Ruffa) and asked, ‘Is this something Broadview Heights does?’” Petros told cleveland.com. “The law director said, ‘Yes, we have shared services between cities, mostly for emergency services.’ It was a general consultation.”
That’s even though Petros, speaking to the Brecksville planning commission June 9, said, “The only way for this (Brecksville subdivision) to get access is to get access out through Broadview Heights. I’ve discussed it with them. They claimed that they’ll cooperate, whatever they need to do to help us do that.”
Ruffa and Alai did not return emails regarding Petros’ statement that his attorney spoke to Ruffa about shared-services agreements among cities.
Meanwhile, residents in the Broadview Heights subdivision New Hampton, which contains Wilmington, objected to the use of their development as the only entrance into the proposed Brecksville subdivision.
“We have no interest in allowing a thoroughfare into another city with no benefit for Broadview Heights,” Andrew Dorman of Wilmington told Broadview Heights council July 5.
Petros wants Brecksville to rezone the proposed 47-acre subdivision site from an “R-40″ district requiring 40,000-square-foot lots to an “R-8″ district allowing 8,000-square-foot lots.
On June 9, the request was not received well by the Brecksville planning commission.
One commissioner asked Petros if Brecksville was expected to provide emergency medical services in the proposed subdivision.
“The city of Broadview Heights would supply them (emergency services),” Petros replied. “(Brecksville) could supply them. It would be up to you.”
The commissioner said it might be “cumbersome” for Brecksville to access the proposed subdivision in an emergency, considering that the only way in would be through Broadview Heights.
“I spoke to Broadview Heights about it, and again, they said they would be cooperative and do whatever services they need, some kind of sharing agreement,” Petros told the commission.
Another commissioner said that reaching older empty nesters – the target population of Petros’ proposed subdivision – with emergency medical services is important and could be difficult if the development is “so pushed back.”
“Broadview Heights is willing to do it,” Petros said.
On July 5, Alai said he did not offer his city’s services to Petros for the proposed Brecksville subdivision. He did tell Brecksville Mayor Jerry Hruby that Broadview Heights would provide mutual aid when it comes to emergency services, as most suburbs do for each other, if Brecksville first responders need assistance.
Council President Robert Boldt said it’s up to the mayor, not council members, to negotiate such agreements between other cities and/or developers, then present the agreements to council for approval.
William Tarter of Wilmington said he learned about Petros’ proposed Brecksville subdivision through a June 28 cleveland.com article. Afterward, he spoke to Broadview Heights officials, whom he didn’t name, but none of them knew anything about Petros’ plan.
Tarter asked council which city official or officials did speak to Petros about the proposed Brecksville subdivision. No one responded.
Councilman Tom Pavlica, whose Ward 1 contains Wilmington and the North Hampton, said he had received several emails and phone calls from constituents opposing Petros plan to cut through their development. He agreed with them.
Pavlica said heavy construction equipment building the Brecksville subdivision would damage Wilmington. After construction, additional traffic generated from the new homes, and school buses driving in and out of New Hampton, would further the street damage.
Pavlica said North Hampton residents would have to deal with noise from the additional traffic. Also, existing Broadview Heights sanitary sewers might not be able to handle the flow from 60 new homes.
In addition, stormwater runoff caused by the new homes in Brecksville would flow toward New Hampton, Pavlica said.
Pavlica suggested that Petros find another path, perhaps off Boston, into the proposed Brecksville subdivision.
“The city really needs to look hard at it,” Pavlica said.
Rich Ganim of Wilmington said he bought land for a home in North Hampton because Broadview Heights Building Department officials told him the land on which Petros now wants to build was undevelopable.
“We all know the history that Petros has with the city, and Sam’s ability to just kind of do what he wants,” Ganim told the council. “It’s been known before that prior to getting final approval, he just decides to start a project, then pay the fine because it’s less expensive to just go ahead and start.
“He’s not new to the game,” Ganim said of Petros. “He’s done this multiple times before. What are the chances he does that again?”
On Monday, Petros told cleveland.com that he does not always get his way. He said he’s had to threaten Broadview Heights with occasional lawsuits after city officials refused to approve his development proposals.
For example, Petros considered legal action against the city after council rejected a plan to build a Goodwill donation center and retail store on Broadview Road just south of Ohio 82. Petros and Piedmont Cos. Inc. in North Carolina had proposed the Goodwill center.
The city ended up buying the proposed Goodwill site from Petros.
Petros said he’s “extremely proud” of his history building a variety of types of homes, retail stores and whatever people have needed in Broadview Heights.
“We have delivered for 45 years and we will continue on for another generation,” Petros told cleveland.com.
Petros said he has not yet spoken to Broadview Heights officials about the proposed Breckville subdivision but will do so. He said he hasn’t even decided whether to proceed with the project.
“We must assess the whole project,” Petros said. “It’s a 50/50 shot at this stage, partly due to the economy and a possible looming recession.”
A question of authority
Other Broadview Heights council members agreed with Pavlica, saying they didn’t want Petros’ subdivision to have an entrance off Wilmington in Broadview Heights and didn’t even want the subdivision itself.
However, they were uncertain whether Broadview Heights had authority to affect or stop the development.
Boldt said if the Brecksville subdivision enters off Wilmington, Broadview Heights can negotiate with Brecksville and Petros. If the subdivision doesn’t enter through Broadview Heights, the city of Broadview Heights would have no say in the development.
At the meeting, Ruffa did not offer a legal opinion.
Councilman Brian Wolf suggested that council send the list of Pavlica’s concerns about the proposed development to Breckville officials.
“That would go a long way, I hope,” Wolf said.