ROTC office gets OK from council

September 9th, 2010

The University Heights City Council passed a motion that will grant John Carroll University a special permit to use a house it owns in the city as administrative offices for its ROTC program upon its acceptance of the motion and several conditions.

The University was granted a special permit to use the house at 4070 Carroll Blvd., which is zoned as a residential area, as office space by the City’s Board of Zoning Appeals in June.

The BZA approved the special permit under several conditions, including the space be used during office hours of 6 a.m. – 6 p.m., place no signage on the second story, and limit parking to the Dolan Science Center lot.

Residents appealed the decision, which brought the issue to City Council.

The issue was tabled by City Council at their meeting on Aug. 23 and reassessed at a special working meeting last week.

The special meeting produced three additional conditions to the motion. The City Council approved conditions that would prevent JCU from seeking tax-exempt status for the property. Further, the conditions put a moratorium on the purchasing of other houses and additional special permit requests for houses on Carroll Blvd. and designated surrounding areas.

Councilman Frank Consolo motioned to sustain the appeal, citing a letter from JCU in an unofficial response to the motion as negative and disharmonious with the City’s character.

The letter allegedly expressed contention on aspects of the additional conditions added during the Council’s special meeting, including a change to the conditions that would limit only student and faculty parking to the Dolan lot and some ambiguity about whether it would seek tax-exempt status.

Councilman Steven Bullock said the unofficial response from JCU to the City’s motion to lose faith in the ability for the University and JCU to work collaboratively.

Bullock said, “It’ s a matter of respect and willing to cooperate that’s missing.”

Councilman Kevin Murphy motioned to pass the motion created during the Council’s working session, allowing the University to accept it with the additional conditions or officially reject it.

“It’s a negotiation, and I don’t want to pull our offer off the table until we’ve received an official rejection,” said Murphy.

After more than an hour of discussion, Consolo’s motion failed by a 3-4 vote.

Murphy’s motion passed with a 3-4 vote and included a subtle word change to one of the original conditions.

Director of Government and Community Relations Dora Pruce attended the meeting.

“Ideally, what we [JCU] were looking for was having two separate motions this evening,” said Pruce. “One [would have been] based on the Proposed Motion to Appeal to BZA (the original request approved by the BVA in June). The second motion would talk about City Council declaring support for the city planning process and for the JCU community to be an integral part of that process.”

Mayor Susan Infeld expressed concern that denying the City’s “largest employer and jewel of our city,” its request for office and administrative use of the property would contribute to a history of the Council “putting up a front and saying ‘no, no,no.’”