On Wednesday, May 28, 2014, after interviewing the final candidate for Planning and Zoning Commission, Maple Heights City Council heard two presentations. The first was from Newport Square, Real Estate Investors interested in putting a Senior Housing Development in off of Schreiber Road, and the second was from Optotraffic about speed cameras. Video of the meeting is available, to view Newport Square’s presentation here and Optotraffic’s here.
Newport Square’s first development is in Warrensville Heights at the corner of Emery Road and Northfield. It is a gated community of 72 ranch-style attached rental homes. These homes have attached garages and are ADA accessible. Resident’s don’t have to worry about mowing grass or maintenance. The community has a low turn over and as soon as they can get a unit ready a new resident moves in. From the sounds of it, Newport Square has found it’s nitch market within an aging population in inner ring suburbs.
What will the rent be for these homes? Recognizing that their residents are or soon will be on fixed income they offer rent at a fixed rate, the price you first sign a rental agreement for will be the same price you pay for however long you live in your Newport Square home. The current rent is advertised for the Warrensville Heights location is $950-975.
The property on Scheiber road is 27 acres. Newport Square can put 10 units on an acre (most lots in Maple are between an eighth and a tenth of an acre). They are planning for an initial phase of 100, 1400 square foot 2 bed/2 bath homes.
Councilwoman Jones, our housing guru, said she had 7 or 8 questions but was told by Council President she could ask one. She caught up with the representatives after the meeting and asked a few questions and even provided a possible solution to a question Councilman Brownlee had raised. Councilman Brownlee was concerned about there only being one piece of road frontage on the property and therefore only one exit/entrance. Her suggestion? Tie the new development into the Valley Ranch Development via one or two of the undeveloped lots. Councilwoman Jones also wanted to make sure that each property would have its own water-meter a problem that has plagued Condo’s in her district.
Councilman Brownlee also asked about whether the Newport Square residents would be current residents of the city. To which Newport Square answered most likely because the goal to give these residents a place in their community to “age in place.” This left the Councilman wondering if interested residents who own their own homes be able to sell them in the current market? When I asked Councilwoman Jones about this she thought that because these units are market value rentals, that the only way homeowners would be able to afford them would be to sell their home. How the timing of selling their home and having an available unit would work out seems risky.
The property with a market value of $310,000 according to the county auditors website would likely be given to Newport Square for development if approved. The city would be able to collect their share, 20%, of the property taxes on the land, some residents may still be working so the the city may see some income tax from them as well as the income tax on the rent collected by Newport Square and that of the few employees that would be working on-site.
Council voted 4-2 to send the idea to Planning and Zoning for review.
Comparing Maple Heights and Warrensville Heights
The owner-renter composition of Maple Heights is different than that of Warrensville Heights. Only 25% of Maple Heights households rent, unlike Warrensville Heights in which 50% of households rent. Both communities have 15% of their housing stock vacant, although Maple has nearly twice as many housing units.
Both communities were built primarily post-WWII. Two-thirds of the housing stock in Warrensville Heights was built between 1950-1969, with 8% being built since 1980. Maple Heights is a bit older of a community, with 44% of its homes being built between 1950 and 1959 and an additional 30% being equally split between the preceding and following decades. Only 4% of homes in Maple have been built since 1980. The homes in Warrnesville Heights seemed to be smaller, 80% were equally split between 2 and 3 bedrooms, while in Maple Heights 60% had 3 bedrooms and 20% had two. This may indicate that many Mapletopians might be ready to downsize from the family home as they age, but 1400 square feet might not be downsizing for them, as many post WWII homes have less than 1200 square feet of living space.
The location of the community in Warrensville is just behind several fast food restaurants and a drugstore and accross the street from the civic center and park. The representatives even joked that some residents had removed fencing so they could cut through the backyard to walk to these” backyard” amenities. The proposed location in Maple would be much more secluded and peaceful, a fence would be needed not to keep people out, but rather to keep wild animals from raiding residents’ gardens. The only place residents might be walking would be St. Martin of Tours. Rough terrain would likely keep them from walking to Dunham Park or Dunham Plaza.
The presenter for Optotraffic knew his product and services. The cost to the community for the services provided by Optotraffic which include everything from Public Relations to taking care of the speed cameras to processing notices, is 40% of each collected citation, with the remaining 60% going to the city. Our police will be required to review each violation and the city will be responsible for hearings, for the tickets which are contested. If Council and the Mayor approve the legislation cameras could be up and running within 30 days, with a 30 day “grace” period to alert residents to the cameras and allow Optotraffic to collect data.
The cameras would be a great asset to our police force helping to stretch their already low numbers. In 2013, over 3200 traffic citations were issued. Dispatch, which handles calls for both police and fire/paramedics, receives between 50 and 80 calls per day.
Just how much revenue will this generate for the city? That’s what the finance director wanted to know. That number won’t be known until the camera’s are in place and data starts to be collected. There is a driver compliance “learning curve” of about three months until steady-state is reached, but since Optotraffic only takes a cut of the fines they collect there is really no way the city can lose out. Plus, the camera’s are portable and can be moved/rotated throughout the city as needed. Not only will they make our streets safer, but also generate much needed revenue. The service agreement allows Maple Heights to terminate the service at any time with 90 days written notice, something no municipality has ever done.
What do you think about speed cameras in Maple Heights?