Compromise is brokered between JCU, Shaker

February 25th, 2010

John Carroll University and Shaker Heights came to an agreement regarding the apartments owned by JCU in the City on Feb. 22.

The City withdrew the interim ordinance, which was originally passed on Aug. 3, and was extended for 90 days on Nov. 9. In its place, the City and the University have agreed on a cooperative agreement. This agreement was the result of ongoing discussions between the two parties that began in August.

The University refused to accept the ordinance, citing that it was legally flawed and singled out JCU.

JCU’s General Counsel Maria Alfaro-Lopez said, “As we have stated repeatedly to the City’s administration, we believe the interim ordinance to be fundamentally flawed in its disparate treatment of the University-owned apartment buildings versus any other private apartment building owner.”

The agreement addresses several issues that the University had with the City’s ordinance.

JCU will now be able to place clearly visible signs in front of of the apartments, which the City prohibited before. The ordinance also allows the University to continue renting units to upper-class students.

Additionally, the agreement establishes a “cap trigger” for the University. The ordinance placed capped the number of units able to be inhabited by students. North Park Manor, Fairpark Apartments and North Park Apartments were capped at 50 percent student capacity. Fairmount Gardens, which had a majority student capacity already, was capped at 87 percent.

While the new agreement keeps the caps in place, the new agreement allows the University to exceed the cap in case of emergency or construction on campus residence halls. The University can also exceed the caps if the vacancy rate of an apartment is more than 20 percent.

JCU has agreed to not only advertise the apartments through the Office of Residence Life, but also through commercial means.

Shaker Heights has agreed in return to not enact any zoning ordinances that solely impacts University-owned apartments.

Some of the City’s concerns with the University apartments were whether it would seek tax-exempt status on the buildings and whether the apartments would be transformed into residence halls.

Alfaro-Lopez said that JCU has no intention of doing either.

According to Alfaro-Lopez, the cooperative agreement provides a good basis for the future.

“It’s about maintaining a good working relationship [with the City],” said Alfaro-Lopez.

JCU and Shaker Heights will continue discussions. The next step is to draft a mutual aid agreement, according to Alfaro-Lopez.

Dora Pruce, JCU director of government and community relation, said in a press release, “We’re pleased with the progress reached. John Carroll University is committed to continuing to work in good faith with Shaker Heights.”

Shaker Heights mayor Earl Leiken was unavailable for comment.