The 'burbs continued to burble this week, and nowhere more so than in Parma (actually Beachwood was pretty bad, too). The potential repeal of a brickscaping ordinance has catalyzed some heated early conversations pertaining to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, stormwater management and other equally exciting topics.
Here's the gist: Right now, there's a law on the books that says Parma businesses must install brick sidewalks whenever they build additions or improve their facades. That's mostly a suburban value thing, where conformity and aesthetic blandness are the names of the game.
But what Parma gains in bricks, they lose in grass, at least sometimes. And grass turns out to be more than just "a-thing-that-never-gets-mowed." The dirt absorbs rainwater, so there's less which flows freely into sewers and wreaks havoc -- residential flooding, geyser-style manhole explosions -- when major storms visit the region.
Parma Councilwoman Deborah Lime, chair of the Public Service Committee, where the ordinance has been referred, says she wants to hear more from NEORSD:
"I understand the problem, but they haven't presented us with alternatives. Who's going to fund this?"
Lime says the brickscaping repeal will be just one small step in a grand master strategy to deal with stormwater in the region, and she'll be more prepared to comment on the significance of the bricks when a comprehensive plan materializes. She adds that the repeal won't be retroactive. It's not like business owners will have to remove bricks that they installed to adhere initially.
For now, she's much happier with the new Watershed Stewardship Center at West Creek Reservation.
"They have created a jewel," Lime says, of the Metroparks. "I don't know how else to describe it." Lime thinks education plays an important role in the stormwater management problem as cities are forced to confront their aging infrastructures.
Via Sun News, Parma city engineer Paul Deichmann said that NEORSD brought the ordinance to the city's attention -- the sewer district obviously has a vested interest, but also receives a fee from businesses based on brick surface area. NEORSD denied that they have any role in the Parma conversations.
Mayor Tim DeGeeter also, via Tweet, stressed that this was an internal decision, what he characterized as "best practices" legislation. He's said before that the ordinance places an undue burden on business owners and he's continuing to do right by them.
As far as business owners in Lime's district, the councilwoman says she already has a tough time getting them to, e.g., wash their damn windows. She doesn't eagerly await having to prod them to cut the grass.