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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Monthly Meetings Updates: December 2010

This month the Board Of Zoning Appeals, City Planning Commission, and the Design Review Committee have met to discuss new business that has been brought before them:
Board Of Zoning Appeals
(Tuesday, December 21, 2010 @ 1:30pm)

CASE NO. 10-11  CT Group Homes submitted a request to appeal the non-conforming status of 1406 Fifth Avenue as a group home; to approve a waiver to re-establish a group home within a 2,000 foot radius of another group home.  The property in question is zoned R-A. Residence Apartment.  Approval Deferred


CASE NO. 10-12    Zaremba Group, LLC submitted an appeal for Dollar General for a variance to reduce the required parking spaces from 61 spaces to 35 spaces; to allow the screening device required abutting a residential use to be eliminated at 16' from the rear yard at E. Evergreen and to allow the screening device required abutting a residential use to be eliminated at 35' from the rear yard at Glenaven.  The property in question is located at Market and Evergreen in a B-2, General Business Zoning District.  Approval Granted
 
CASE NO. 10-13   Zaremba Group, LLC submitted an appeal for Dollar General for a variance to reduce the required parking spaces from 61 space to 35 spaces.  The property in question is located a McGuffey and Jacobs Road in a B-3, Community Business Zoning District. Approval Granted

CASE NO. 10-14   Dan Keep submitted an appeal for Northside Medical Center to approve the relocation of a hospital helipad, previously in Liberty Township, to be moved further on site which falls in the City Of Youngstown.  The property in question is located at 500 Gypsy Lane in a INS, Institutional Zoning District.   Approval granted

Attended:  Chuck Sasho, Irving Lev, Angelo Pignatelli, Heather McMahon
Did not Attend:  Iris Guglucello, Jason Roller

Planning Commission
(Tuesday, December 21, 2010 @2:30pm)
  • There was no new business on the agenda
Design Review Committee
(Tuesday, December 7, 2010 @9:00am)

  • There was no new business on the agenda
 Paper copies of the official meeting agendas can be requested from the City Planning Department, located at 9 W. Front St., 3rd Floor, Suite 315.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monthly Meeting Updates: November 2010

This month the Board Of Zoning Appeals, City Planning Commission, and the Design Review Committee have met to discuss new business that has been brought before them:

Board Of Zoning Appeals
(Tuesday, November 16, 2010 @ 1:30pm)

CASE NO. 10-10: Mt. Gilead Baptist Church applied for the following variances; 1) To increase the allowable building ratio from 10% to 15.5%; 2) To increase the front yard setback from 60' to 30', the side yard setback from 30' to 15', and the rear yard setback from 30' to 15'; 3) To reduce the required parking spaces from 50 to 44.  The property in question is located at 2821 Hillman Ave. in an R-72, Single- Family Residential Zoning District.  Approval Granted
Attended- Chuck Sasho, Angelo Pignatelli, Irving Lev, Heather McMahon
Did not attend- Iris Guglucello, Jason Roller

Planning Commission
(Tuesday, November 16, 2010 @1:45pm)

REF NO. 09-10: The City of Youngstown submitted a request to change the zoning classification form, INS, Institutional to B-2, General Business.  The property in question is bounded by W. Princeton Ave., Utilis St., W. Indianola Ave., and Glenwood Ave., City lot number 24495.  Approval Recommended
Attended- Chuck Sasho, Angelo Pignatelli, Irving Lev, Heather McMahon
Did not attend- Iris Guglucello, Jason Roller

Design Review Committee
(Tuesday, November 2, 2010 @9:00am)

Case No. DRC 10-23: Atlas Neon Sign Corporation submitted a proposal for installation of lighted channel letter style wall signage on three sides of the building including logos and lettering reading 'First National Bank'.  The property in question is located at One Federal Plaza W... Measure Approved
Attended- John DeFrance, Chuck Shasho, Ray DeCarlo, Karen Perkins
Did not attend- Summer Barker, Jason Rupe, Phil Kidd, Justin Rogers

Paper copies of the official meeting agendas can be requested from the City Planning Department, located at 9 W. Front St., 3rd Floor, Suite 315.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Youngstown Rental Property Registration Update


The Rental Property Registration program (RPR) is in full swing!  Inspectors are visiting between 50 and 70 properties a week.  During their inspection activities they are also identifying rental properties that have not yet registered.  Youngstown residents have been very eager to assist our office in identifying rental properties in their neighborhood.  We also get calls daily from tenants who want to confirm that their apartment is registered. 
        
The City of Youngstown gave landlords all summer long to register their properties.  On September 30, 2010, a press conference was held to notify the public that fines of $100.00 per week would be imposed against any landlord that did not comply with the ordinance by registering all of their rental properties by October 7, 2010.

Landlords can download the registration forms from the City's website. There they will also find the Rental Property Registration checklist.  Landlords are encouraged to go through rental properties with the checklist in hand to ensure that the properties are up to code before the inspectors arrive.  If a violation is found during the first or second inspection, there is a $40.00 fee for re-inspection.  If a property does not pass inspection during the third inspection, there is a $100.00 re-inspection fee.
 
The RPR office sets appointments with the property owner or the property manager by phone.  An appointment time is scheduled, and if requested, the inspector will call the property owner or manager when they are on their way to the inspection site. If the RPR Office confirms an appointment and then the inspectors are not provided access to the property during the scheduled time, the property owner will be charged a $25.00 “no-show fee”.  Cancellations can be made until 8:00 a.m. the morning of the scheduled time by calling (330) 742-8833 anytime. If the office is closed, a message may be left. 

The City of Youngstown encourages anyone who may suspect that a property is a rental unit to e-mail the address to rpr@cityofyoungstownoh.com. They may also mail it to the office at City Hall, 9 West Front Street, Suite 315, Youngstown, OH, 44503.   

Monday, November 8, 2010

Idora Neighborhood Streets Get a New Look

On Tuesday, November 9th 2010, the first of the new Idora Neighborhood street signs will be hung on the corner of Winona and Glenwood.  The public unveiling will take place at 3 p.m. The new custom designed signage depicts the neighborhood name in a raised center arch above the street name. Installation of the new neighborhood-specific signs represents the continued partnership between the City of Youngstown CDA and Idora Neighborhood Association in that area's ongoing revitalization. New signage for Idora is part of a specific strategy to increase neighborhood pride as outlined in the Idora Neighborhood Comprehensive Plan. By taking some extra time to compare pricing, the CDA was able to purchase the new signs at a reduced cost for Youngstown taxpayers. At $48.50 each, the total price for the custom-cut metal blanks and decals is a substantial savings compared to what the city has traditionally paid for its ordinary street signs. The CDA plans to work with Idora residents in installing the signs. Once these new street signs are in place, the CDA would like to target other City neighborhoods for custom signage, such as Brownlee Woods and Lincoln Knolls on the south and east sides of town, respectively. 



Thursday, October 28, 2010

Youngstown 2010, A Model Plan For Shrinking Cities All Over The World?

The Youngstown 2010 Plan is a nationally and now internationally recognized plan that emphasizes the new concept of a shrinking city.  City of Youngstown Community Development Agency director William D'Avignon met with the Kanagawa Municipality Promotion Association Staff, which is made up of various Japanese city employees from various cities on Monday October 25th to discuss the Youngstown 2010 Plan.

Japan was once an industrial power house like the United States.  Now with much of the industrial jobs leaving Japan, as they did in the United States, they are beginning to face the same problems as United States cities such as Youngstown. Youngstown's population peaked around 1930 at about 170,000, and started to decline drastically in the 1970's with the closure of the steel mills.  Youngstown now has a population somewhere around 72,000 people.  One of the major problems with Youngstown is that it still has the infrastructure and services to provide for a city with twice the population.  Providing services to unpopulated areas of the city is costly, and the vacant infrastructure causes negative side effects such as criminal activity.

Having researched Youngstown the Kanagawa Municipality Promotion Association Staff wished to come visit Youngstown and ask Mr. D'Avignon questions regarding Youngstown's infamous shrinking city plan.  Questions inquiring about Youngstown's response to its drastic population decline, and what role non-profit organization play in the revitalization of the city.  The Youngstown 2010 Plan has become such an inspiration to the staff that it has actually been translated into Japanese.

Two Professors from RWTH Aachen University in Germany also came to visit Youngstown on Friday October 22nd during their month long voyage through old industrialized cities.  They also traveled to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Erie, and Buffalo.  Their purpose is to see how United States industrial cities are recovering from the collapse of industry.  Doctoral students and professors Cyryl Garus and Martin Pudlik plan on bringing a group of planners back sometime in the near future to further research Youngstown and some of its old industrial neighbors.  This would be to gain insight to bring back to Germany for possible applications on their older industrialized cities.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monthly Meeting Updates: October 2010

This month the Board Of Zoning Appeals, City Planning Commission, and the Design Review Committee have met to discuss new business that has been brought before them:
Board Of Zoning Appeals
(Tuesday, October 19, 2010 @ 1:30pm)
  • No new business on the agenda
Planning Commission
(Tuesday, October 19, 2010 @2:00pm)
  • No new business on the agenda
Design Review Committee
(Tuesday, October 5, 2010 @9:00am)

Case No.DRC 10-21:  Benjamin Rantilla submitted a proposal for restaurant and storefront alterations.  The property is located at 18 North Phelps Street.  This measure was approved

Attended:  John DeFrance, Phil Kidd, Summer Barker, Justin Rogers, William D'Avignon
Did Not Attend: Chuck Sasho, Jason Rupe

Special Design Review Committee Meeting
(Wednesday, October 20, 2010 @9:00am)

Case No.DRC 10-21: The City of Youngstown submitted a proposal regarding the Hazel Street extension.  The property in question is located on Hazel Street and Commerce.

Case No. DRC 10-22: Diocese of Youngstown submitted a proposal for replacement of north facade of the Tribunal building and new decorative fence around new parking lot at Wood and Hazel Street.  The property in question is located at 141 Rayen Avenue.  This measure was approved.

Attended:  Chuck Sasho, Phil Kidd, William D'Avignon, Summer Barker, Justin Rodgers, John Defrance
Did Not Attended: Jason Rupe

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Monthly Meeting Updates: September 2010

This month the Board Of Zoning Appeals, City Planning Commission, and the Design Review Committee have met to discuss new business that has been brought before them:
Board Of Zoning Appeals
(Tuesday, September 21 2010 @ 1:30pm)

  • CASE NO. 10-09:  Dominic Leone has appealed to reestablish a nonconforming use at 3718 Sheridan Road formally known as Jolly Joe's.  The property was used as a sports bar and grill and he wishes to reopen it as a sports bar and grill.  The property in question is in an R7.2, Single-Family Residential Zoning District.  Approval Granted
Attended- Chuck Sasho, Mayor Jay Williams, Irning Lev, Angelo Pignatelli 
Did Not Attend- Iris Guglucello, Jason Roller, Heather McMahon

Planning Commission
(Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @2:00pm)

  • REF NO. 07-10 ORD-10-260: This ordnance is authorizing the City Of Youngstown to proovide for the vacation of: Alpine Street Extension, a 60 ft. right-of-way from Poland Ave approximately 202.46 ft to the south westerly right-of-way line of Performance Place.  Approval Recommended
  • REF NO. 08-10 ORD-10-261:  This ordnance is authorizing the City Of Youngstown to provide for the vacation of: Part of Performance Place, a 60 ft. right-of-way, from city lot # 61878, southeast approximately 1,373.76 to south property line of city lot # 61879.  Approval Recommended
Attended- Chuck Sasho, Mayor Jay Williams, Irning Lev, Angelo Pignatelli
Did Not Attend- Iris Guglucello, Jason Roller, Heather McMahon

Design Review committee
(Tuesday, September 14, 2010 @9:00am)

  • Case No. DRC 10-20: Holy Trinity Ukranian Catholic Church submitted a proposal for a free standing, brick illuminated sign near the front of the church.  The property in question is located at 526 W. Rayen Ave.  Approved
  • Case No. DRC 10-18: Mohammad Khan submitted a proposal to erect a fence.  The property in question is located at 545 Market Street.  Approved
  • Case No. DRC 10-19: City Printing Company submitted a proposal for facade renovations.  The property in question is located at 122 Oakhill Avenue.  Approved
Attended- Chuck Sasho, Phill Kidd, Justin Rogers, John DeFrance
Did Not Attend- Karen Perkins, Jason Rupe, Summer Barker

Paper copies of the official meeting agendas can be requested from the City Planning Department, located at 9 W. Front St., 3rd Floor, Suite 315.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Youngstown Receives National Recognition for its Deconstruction Program

Youngstown was recently recognized at ICLEI’s annual Local Action Summit for its Youngstown Deconstruction Initiative (YDI) program. YDI received runner up honors in the Sustainability Leadership Award’s Planning Process Innovation category for midsized cities. Other award categories included Energy Efficiency Innovation, Community Outreach Innovation, and awards for individual members of city staff and elected officials who have made notable strides while working to achieve local sustainability.


The Local Action Summit was held in Washington D.C. from September 24 through September 26, 2010. The annual gathering allows local governments from across the country to participate in seminars, panel discussions, and networking events centered on innovative solutions to creating sustainable cities and communities.

Founded in 1990, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability is an international association of local governments as well as national and regional local government organizations who have made a commitment to sustainable development. ICLEI provides technical consulting, training, and information services to build capacity, share knowledge, and support local government in the implementation of sustainable development at the local level. Their basic premise is that locally designed initiatives can provide an effective and cost-efficient way to achieve local, national, and global sustainability objectives. ICLEI currently has nearly 1,200 members, with over 600 located in the United States.

To date, YDI has completed 7 deconstruction and 8 waste diversion projects, and expects that total to reach 50 by the end of the year. Over 220 tons of building material has been diverted from the landfill for reuse and recycling, creating new jobs in the process.

The recognition received for its deconstruction efforts is just one more example of how Youngstown is regarded as a national Model of Sustainability.

Friday, September 17, 2010

September 27th Youngstown Community Congress Gathering

On  Monday September 27th 6:30 pm in Downtown Youngstown at Trinity United Methodist Church, 30 W Front Street, join the MVOC and an anticipated 1,000 Mahoning Valley residence for the first ever Youngstown Community Congress.  It is free to attend and parking is provided across the street from the church. The reason for this gathering is for residence to have an opportunity to submit questions to important local and state officials as well as potential candidates.  Common topics could range from neighborhood and economic revitalization, clean up of local corner stores, and vacant land as well as land bank issues. The MVOC has invited the Governor, U.S Senate, Attorney General and other state and local officials.  Among those invited conformations have been received from Congressman Tim Ryan, Mayor Jay Williams, Yvette McGee Brown running mate to Governor Strickland, various city council members, Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains, and many more.

If you are interested in attending you can sign up and reserve yourself a seat by clicking here.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Monthly Meeting Updates: August/September 2010

Over the past few weeks the Board of Zoning appeals, City Planning Commission, and the Design Review Committee met to discuss various issues that were brought before them:

Board Of Zoning Appeals
(Tuesday, August 17 2010 @ 1:30pm)

  • Case NO. 10-07- St. Dominic's Church appealed  for a variance to reduce the rear yard setback from 30' to 5'; to add an addition on to an existing structure.  The property in question is located at 77 E. Lucius Avenue in an INS, Institutional Zoning District. The Board approved this measure.
  •  Case NO. 10-08-Doris Lowe appealed for a variance to reduce the side yard set back on a corner lot from 23' to 6' to construct an enclosed porch.  The property in question is located at 1577 Medford in an R-7.2, Single-Family Residential Zoning District. The Board approved this measure.

Attended- Iris Guglucello, Chuck Sasho, Angelo Pignatelli, Irving Lev
Did not attend- Jason Roller, Heather McMahon

Planning Commission
(Tuesday, August 17, 2010 @2:00pm) 

  • REF NO. 04-10 -RE: Legislation- To zone approximately 6.411 acres on meridian road formerly Austintown Township as shown on the Annexation Plat-IL, Industrial Limited.  The Commission recommended to approve this measure.
  • REF NO 0510- RE: Legislation- To zone approximately 190.838 acres on Martin Luther King formerly Girard Ohio as shown on the Annexation Plat-IH, Industrial Unlimited.  The Commission recommended to approve this measure.
  • REF NO. 06-10 ORD-10-230: The amending ordinance number 94-586, passed by city council on April 26, 1995, which adopted the urban redevelopment plan for the west end of Downtown Youngstown; and the amendment being: to revise the map in Section III (G) (I) on page 59 to remove the building located at 138 West Federal, Liberty/Paramount Theater, from the conversation plan.  The current page 59 will be replaced.  This amendment is required for the proposed removal of blight and saving of the facade for a parking area/public space. The Committee voted to approve this measure.
Attended- Iris Guglucello, Chuck Sasho, Angelo Pignatelli, Irving Lev
Did not attend- Jason Roller, Heather McMahon


Design Review committee
(Tuesday, September 7, 2010 @9:00am)

  • Case NO. DRC 10-18: Mohammad Khan proposed to construct a fence.  The property in question is locate at 545 Market Street.  The committee deferred this measure.
  • Case NO. DRC 10-19:  The City Printing Company submitted proposal for facade renovations.  The property in question is located at 122 Oakhill Avenue.  The committee deferred this measure.
  • Case NO> 10-20: Joe Schiavoni proposed to construct a statue/memorial.  The committee deferred this measure.
Attended- Karen Perkins, Chuck Shasho, Summer Barker, Phil Kidd, Justin Rodgers
Did not attend- Jason Rupe, John DeFrance



Paper copies of the official meeting agendas can be requested from the City Planning Department, located at 9 W. Front St., 3rd Floor, Suite 315.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Grey to Green Festival Saturday September 11 at Wick Park


Youngstown's third annual Grey to Green Festival will be held at Wick Park Saturday September 11.  The purpose of the Grey to Green Festival is to increase awareness of environmental issues that perplex Youngstown and the world.  On Saturday there will be a collaboration of environmentally oriented businesses, community organizations, local and regional agencies in attendance.  This year the three keynote speakers will be Maurice Small of City Fresh in Cleveland, Ohio who will be discussing the importance of urban agriculture,  James Anderson who is the CEO of Evergreen Cooperative will be discussing sustainable green jobs that his company has created in Cleveland, Ohio,    and Michael Gainer of Buffalo Reuse will discuss neighborhood development and deconstruction.  Youngstown's recent partner Global Green will also be in attendance.

The opening ceremony begins at 10am with Mayor Jay Williams and representatives from Congressmen Tim Ryan's office.  The festival concludes at 5pm.

The 2010 Grey to Green Festival Schedule

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Youngstown Gains International Interest

Early this month director of Youngstown's Community Development Agency (CDA), William D'Avignon, was contacted by two separate international parties who have developed interests in Youngstown.  Planning to visit Youngstown are two doctorate students from Germany's  RWTH University Aachen, Martin Pudlik and Cyryl Garus, who are working on their dissertations on the development of regional analysis on industrialized regions in Poland and Germany.  Mr. Pudlik and Mr. Garus wish to expand their research to the industrialized areas in Midwestern United States.  The students have asked Mr. D'Avignon to meet with them on Tuesday, October 19th, to discuss issues in Youngstown.

Mr. D'Avignon also spoke with Dr. Sadatsugu Nishiura a professor who is teaching urban planning at Meisei University in Tokyo.  Dr. Nishiura's main area of research is city and regional planning.  For the past 15 years he has been doing research on American planning, and has published many papers on topics such as growth management and smart growth.  Recently Dr. Nishiura has gained an interest in the Youngstown 2010 plan and has many questions and inquiries.  Dr. Nishiura along with a dozen other planners will be visiting Youngstown in October.  Mr.D'Avignon has agreed to meet with them on Monday, October 25th, to discuss the Youngstown 2010 plan.  This will be the second time that they have visited Youngstown.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Monthly Meeting Updates: July/August 2010

Over the past few weeks, the Board of Zoning appeals, City Planning Commission, and the Design Review Committee met to discuss various issues that were brought before them:

Board of Zoning Appeals
(Tuesday, July 20, 2010 @1:30pm)
  • Case No. 10-05 -- Randall Courdriet appealed for a variance at 414 Rhoda to reduce the rear syard set back from 9ft to 4ft and to increase the maximum size of an accessory building from 770 sq ft. to 1016 sq ft. The Board approved this measure.
  • Case No. 10-06 -- Joseph A. Salus appealed for a variance at 595 Carlotta Dr. to reduce the side yard setback from 8.2 feet to 3 feet to build an attached garage. The Board approved this measure.
City Planning Commission
(Tuesday, July 20, 2010 @2:00pm)
  • REF No. 3-10 -- Fred Schulte requested to establish a regulated use, identified as a second-hand store, within a 500 ft. radius of another use. The property is located at 1701 Mahoning Avenue in a business district. The Commission recommended to City Council that this measure be approved.

Design Review Committee
(Tuesday August 3, 2010 @9:00am)
  • Case No. DRC 10-17 -- Western Reserve Transit Authority (WRTA) proposed the reconstruction of concrete areas at WRTA's Federal Station at 340 W. Federal St. The Committee voted to approve this measure. 


Paper copies of the official meeting agendas can be requested from the City Planning Department, located at 9 W. Front St., 3rd Floor, Suite 315.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monthly Meeting Updates Series

In efforts to provide the public with information about activities within the city, the CDA Communicator will provide monthly updates about issues addressed before the City Planning Commission, the Board of Zoning Appeals, and the Design Review Committee. Each of these entities meets once monthly, and official agendas and attendance lists are on file for public record at the Department of Planning. Articles on the Communicator will summarize the issues and indicate the entity's decision on each.

The City Planning Commission is an advisory committee to City Council in matters of land use and planning. Amendments to the zoning map, ordinance, street dedications/vacations, annexations, and detachments all go through the Commission. The Commission then makes recommendations to Council. A resolution passed to Council by the City Planning Commission takes a super majority to reject and a simple majority to pass.

The Board of Zoning Appeals is responsible for making interpretations of the zoning ordinance. Zoning code ordinances allow for some variances. The Board has the power to accept or reject proposals for specific variance requests brought to their attention.

The Design Review Committee reviews all proposals to change the aesthetic appearance of the center city. The Committee reviews proposals for new development, redevelopment, and improvements to existing facilities to determine whether or not they meet city standards. The Committee has the ability to accept or deny a proposal and/or to make recommendations.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Parkview Gardens in Full Bloom: An Update on Lots of Green

video

In only a month's time since the Communicator last reported on the subject, lots of progress has occurred on the YNDC's Lots of Green pilot program in Idora Neighborhood. Several of the neighborhood's newly planted community gardens are in full bloom, and neighborhood residents and youth are busily watering plants and trees while contractors continue to deconstruct dilapidated homes to make way for expansion.
 
Lots of Green is an initiative to re-utilize vacant land in Youngstown for productive green space uses including reforestation, passive green space, expanded yards for residents, community gardens, and other practical purposes. YNDC hopes to use the successes of  Lots of Green to create a workable model for sustainable vacant property reclamation that can be implemented to in neighborhoods all across the city and in other communities nation-wide.

So far, this program has been a great success. Over 75 neighborhood residents are active participants in the gardens and hundreds have become involved in the program as a whole. Over 115 lots have been affected

In the video above, Ian Beniston, YNDC's Assistant Director, talks about the Lots of Green program and progress in one of the neighborhood's larger gardens, Parkview Neighborhood Garden.

Monday, July 26, 2010

CDA Proposes Gray to Green Project to EPA

Today, the Community Development Agency is submitting a project proposal application for the Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Showcase Communities grant. The Climate Showcase Communities Grant Program's goal is to fund programs that "create replicable models of sustainable community action that generate cost-effective and persistent greenhouse gas reductions while improving the environmental, economic, public health, or social conditions in a community."

Youngstown's proposal, titled Youngstown Neighborhood Transformation: Gray to Green Project is a comprehensive program aimed at making inner-city neighborhoods in Youngstown healthier, greener, and more sustainable through three primary activities: deconstruction, home energy-efficiency retrofitting, and vacant lot reclamation. This project proposal will tackle the larger environmental problems of greenhouse gas emissions and solid waste management by building community partnerships, generating jobs and stabilizing struggling neighborhoods on a tight, efficient budget.

The Gray to Green program proposal will expand upon the existing partnership between the CDA, YNDC, Global Green USA, MVOC, MYCAP and Mill Creek MetroParks to accomplish its objectives. All six organizations have committed to match the funding request with well over the required amount of in-kind revenue and volunteered staff time during both the planning and implementation phases of the project.

Gray to Green, not to be confused with the Grey to Green Festival (though certainly related in outlook) will target its three activities in several declining inner-city neighborhoods across the city in hopes to build a replicable implementation model for deconstruction, vacant lot reclamation, and housing retrofits that can be employed in other neighborhoods across the city and in other cities struggling from neighborhood instability and serious environmental concerns.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

President of Global Green Visits Youngstown

Matt Petersen, president and CEO of Global Green USA, visited Youngstown on Tuesday and met with local government officials to talk about Global Green's plans to help the city improve its efforts to go green. Global Green is a comprehensive, environmentally-focused nonprofit organization that addresses some of the "greatest challenges facing humanity," especially through its efforts to provide a safe, clean, and sustainable living environment to communities. Global Green works with governments, nonprofit organizations, education systems and other local groups to help them find practical, affordable strategies for making environmentally conscious development decisions. They also help organizations secure funding for initiatives that help to accomplish these goals.

After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Global Green stepped in through its Holy Cross Project and helped to build a low-cost, environmentally-friendly housing development within the city. Global Green also retrofitted schools in New Orleans with practical weatherizing and energy-efficiency improvements that are saving the city tens of thousands annually on utility costs. Global Green is based in Los Angeles and also has offices in New Orleans and Washington DC.


Petersen expressed to city council that he believes Youngstown has the potential to become a model of sustainable redevelopment for the entire Midwest; and possibly for the nation. Global Green is committed to assisting city government and local organizations by helping them acquire resources and develop strategies to improve sustainability within the community. They are currently working directly with the Community Development Agency to produce a report that investigates the carbon footprint of both city government and the city at large. Upon its completion, this report will help city officials figure out how to operate more efficiently and save money on energy costs. Global Green has also begun discussions with local community organizations in order to partner with and compliment their environmentally-conscious efforts.

For more information about Youngstown's partnership with Global Green,  take a look at the The Vindicator's December article.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Public Meeting to Discuss Hubbard Arterial Ammendment at the Covelli Centre

A public meeting will be held on Tuesday June 29th at 5pm at the Covelli Centre in downtown Youngstown to discuss a potential amendment to the Eastgate 2030 Long Range Transportation Plan. The City of Youngstown asked Eastgate to amend the plan to include the Hubbard Arterial Project.

The meeting will be used to discuss the amendment process and to gather public input. For more information, please check the City of Youngstown Website and the Vindicator report.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Idora Neighborhood Transforms Vacant Property into Lots of Green

What were once blighted buildings and weed-covered lots are now being transformed into tilled topsoil and fertilized planters for fresh produce in Idora Neighborhood on the south side of Youngstown. Bulldozers can be seen working at vacant sites all throughout the neighborhood, leveling and preparing land for conversion to gardens and public green space.

Idora Neighborhood is a test site for Lots of Green, a project initiated by the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) in order to "[transform] the challenge of unmanaged vacant land into neighborhood assets." The process involves the systematic removal of derilict buildings and the reclamation of vacant lots in targeted neighborhoods. These lots, in turn, are adaptively re-used and converted into a wide range of public green space uses, based upon the specific needs and interests of the neighborhood.

In Idora, YNDC has joined forces with the Community Development Agency to get the neighborhood's blighted homes and buildings systematically deconstructed and demolished using federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funding. YNDC also raised funding to cover the cost of the plants, trees, tools, and landscaping needed to transform these vacant lots into productive space.

In total, the Lots of Green project is in the process of recovering over 125 neglected properties interspersed throughout Idora Neighborhood, converting them into assets instead of liabilities. Approximately 150 lots will be improved by the time the project has been completed.

These lots are being re-purposed for a wide variety of different uses based closely on interests of the neighborhood's residents. Lots adjacent to Mill Creek Park, which borders the neighborhood on three sides, are being returned to the forest for the park's expansion or converted into rain gardens to reduce water pollution and soil erosion. Smaller sites located between houses are being leveled for passive green space or as side lots for neighbors using native plantings and special low-maintenance grasses. Some of the larger locations are being used for raised-bed community gardens where neighbors and the public are welcome to adopt space and plant produce. On Mineral Springs Road, a large lot is being set aside for the Mineral Springs Demonstration Farm, and urban agriculture project that will include community space. One site is even being used as a research garden for Ohio State University.

This community-based, institutionally-supported project falls directly in line with the Idora Neighborhood Plan, a community planning document for the neighborhood's redevelopment. The plan recommends that blighted, vacant space should be re-used for productive,purposes that engage the community. Both the Idora plan and the planting initiative directly follow the guidelines of the Youngstown 2010 CityWide Plan, which calls for the reclamation of vacant land for green space in order to reduce blight, improve neighborhood conditions and right-size the city for a smaller population.

Lots of Green in Idora is another example of why Youngstown is being looked toward as a model of sustainability. This initiative is drawing attention for its use of community-based planning strategies and because of its innovative and comprehensive approach to neighborhood stabilization. If successful, it will serve as a model for future efforts of revitalizing vacant property throughout Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mahoning County Land Bank Wins Funding Award

Last week, EfficientGovNow announced that Mahoning County will be awarded with $61,420 for its Collaborative Land Bank Program. The cities of Youngstown, Campbell, Struthers, and Austintown Township worked together with Lien Forward Ohio to submit a funding proposal. EfficicentGovNow is an initiative sponsored by the Fund for Our Economic Future which provides competitive grants for public projects in Northeast Ohio that involve government collaboration. Winning projects are chosen by popular vote, and all residents of Northeast Ohio may participate in the voting process via the web, phone, or paper ballot.


The Mahoning River Mayor's Association, Mahoning County Treasurer's Department, Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative, and Lien Forward Ohio helped raised awareness in order to get residents of the Mahoning Valley to vote in this competition. Their efforts were a major success. Only four out of the total number of projects in the competition received funding, and of those projects, the Mahoning County Land Bank topped the list.


The funding will cover 80% of the project's proposed start-up budget. This is the second year in a row that the Mahoning Valley has won funding from EfficientGovNow for collaborative government projects. The community's strong voting response demonstrates the Valley's commitment and desire to see governments work together for the benefit of the entire region.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Youngstown Launches Rental Property Registration Program

On May 26th, 2010, the City of Youngstown launched its new Rental Property Registration program. As of June 1st, 2010, all landlords will be required to register their rental properties annually. This program was launched to work toward several objectives that will increase the quality of life in the city.

The registration program provides the city with the ability to account for all of the rental properties within its boundaries. Up until this point, no complete list of rental properties existed, making data collection, service provision, and inspection difficult tasks to accomplish. With information about every rental property at hand, the city will be able to better serve the needs of both renters and property owners.

The program also helps the city to ensure that residents have a living environment that is both safe and healthy by providing mandatory annual inspections of all rental properties. Through this measure, the program will discourage irresponsible and neglectful property owners and provide an effective structure to hold them accountable to both the city and the community at large. Landlords with properties that fail to meet minimum quality of life standards will be fined and forced to undergo additional inspections until their property is up to code. This measure also protects the investment of responsible property owners by reducing blight in the city.

The Rental Property Registration Program will provide the city with a strong tool for data collection and enforcement. It will ultimately help to improve the quality of life for residents and provide a more stable business environment for property owners. With the goal of benefiting city residents and responsible property owners, the program seeks to educate the public and start a dialogue about how to best reduce the impact of irresponsible landlords.

Coupled with a variety of additional tools and strategies, registering landlords will help the city to better provide a fair, friendly and attractive rental environment for both renters and property owners alike.

For complete information, the press release, and a copy of the Rental Property Registration form, please visit the City of Youngstown's official Rental Property Registration Page.