ELYRIA — The city is moving forward on the $4.3 million project to link Chestnut Commons Drive with East Broad Street, and on Monday recommended City Council hire a design firm to draw up the project.
TranSystems, which has offices in Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown, was the best choice among four firms that responded to design the new Chestnut Commons connector road, Mayor Holly Brinda said.
City Council’s Finance and Community Development committees voted to recommend full Council give Brinda the go-ahead to enter into an agreement with TranSystems to design the project.
Brinda said the design services the company provides will include designing the three-lane connector road, sanitary and storm sewer work, street lighting, pavement markings and doing the geo-technical requirements such as soil sampling.
Project manager Tim Ujvari told the committees the project is scheduled to begin this fall or winter and should be completed “by this time next year at the latest date.”
City officials have said traffic studies of the project predict it will lessen traffic at Chestnut Ridge Road and Chestnut Commons Drive by 20 percent.
Donations of 60 acres of property owned by DBR Commercial Realty and Walmart north of the Chestnut Commons development that will be needed to complete the project have not been finalized, Brinda said, but will be by the time work starts on a roundabout on East Broad Street at Ternes Lane.
The diameter of the roundabout will be enough to handle semitrucks and the additional traffic onto East Broad Street headed into downtown Elyria, east into North Ridgeville or into the industrial warehouses off Ternes Lane, Ujvari said.
Tax increment financing from commercial properties in a specific TIF district will pay back the short-term notes the city takes out to finance the project. The short-term debt will be repaid with money collected from the increased assessed value of the properties being improved.
Alternative traffic patterns still are being considered to fix challenges for motorists in the area, Ujvari said. A so-called “Michigan left turn” — a pattern involving a legal U-turn that would bring motorists driving south on state Route 57 past Chestnut Ridge Road into a left-turn lane, then allow a right turn onto Chestnut Ridge into a roundabout — still is being considered with potential federal funding, he said.
In other business, the committees voted to recommend full Council amend an Enterprise Zone tax abatement agreement with Dura-Line. The company at 860 Garden St. had stated as part of its tax abatement agreement that it had 129 full-time equivalent employees and promised to hire more.
However, due to a counting error, Brinda said the company overestimated how many FTE employees it had in its Elyria location. That number should instead be 118, she said.
Fortunately, Brinda said, the company is “going through additional growth,” leasing additional space in the city and also hiring. That should result in a net gain in the number of employees, she said.
City Council also will be asked to approve a change in the language in city building code governing accessory structures less than 200 square feet.
Assistant Safety Service Director Kevin Brubaker said numerous citizen complaints about sheds in front yards (forbidden) or sheds too close to a neighbor’s property line (also forbidden) led to the request.
The change in the language will give city building inspectors “a little more teeth” to require the proper permits when property owners buy pre-made sheds and have them installed on their property, he said.
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