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New electric vehicle charging stations coming to Pinecrest –

Four electric vehicle charging stations will be constructed at Whole Foods Market at the Pinecrest shopping center in Orange. Village Council approved a zoning variance Wednesday (April 13) to allow the construction. (Ed Wittenberg, special to
ORANGE, Ohio — Village Council has approved a zoning variance to allow the construction of four electric vehicle charging stations at Whole Foods Market at the Pinecrest shopping center.
On Wednesday (April 13), council held a public hearing to consider the variance requested by Pinecrest Partners on behalf of the property owner, Square Mile Orange Village, an affiliate of New York-based Square Mile Capital Management.
Pinecrest Partners was seeking a zoning variance from the required setback of 60 feet from the Orange Place right-of-way to construct four charging stations not less than four feet from the right-of-way lot line of Orange Place.
On April 5, the village’s Planning and Zoning Commission recommended that the variance be granted.
There were no comments during the public hearing.
Council then voted to approve the variance to allow the charging stations to be constructed at Whole Foods, located at 50 Wall St. at Pinecrest, off the Harvard Road exit of Interstate 271.
Mayor Kathy U. Mulcahy said there are already several EV charging stations at the site. But the Orange Village Fire Department wanted more at this location, she said.
“The fire department requested these to be more accessible in the event that they have to fight an electrical fire there, to keep them away from the building and-or other vehicles that could possibly be engaged in a fire,” said Councilman Judson Kline, a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
“And these are high-speed charging units. I don’t think these are the same (type of) units as the ones that are already there.”
Orange Fire Captain Larry Genova, also the village’s fire inspector, confirmed that these charging stations are different from the ones that are there, which will be removed.
“It’s a little more robust system, from what I understand,” he said. “It’s like pulling up to a gas station for your electric car; you pull up while you’re shopping or doing other things, and you can come and charge your vehicle.”
There is a fee for use of the charging stations, Genova said.
Mulcahy asked how long it would normally take to charge a vehicle.
“From what I understand, I believe it depends on how much charge you need and what kind of battery system the car has,” Genova said.
Mulcahy also asked why Pinecrest followed the fire department’s request for this location for the charging stations.
“Their original proposal landed not within the setbacks,” Genova said. “They were proposed to be in the very corner of the lot — not only the four charging stations, but it has to do with some of the other equipment that is nearby.
“Then they came back with a proposal to be within the setbacks, but it was in one of the lanes of parking.
“So our concern from the fire department’s standpoint was vehicle fires in EVs are extremely difficult and time consuming and resource consuming to extinguish. They burn hot; it’s not like fighting a regular gasoline-powered car fire.”
So fire department access to the charging stations was a key issue, Genova said.
“Moving it to where the current proposed site is allows us much better access from a firefighting standpoint and exposure standpoint, and it’s really safer for everybody around,” he said.
“That’s why we supported the variance to have the charging stations along the set of parking spaces that are along that southern part of Orange Place.”
Kline noted that adding these charging stations is important for several reasons.
“One is our commitment to sustainability,” he said. “It puts it literally out in our front yard.
“Number two, this is the future of vehicular activity, and we ought to accommodate it. Most importantly, I think it’s in the most appropriate location for it to be there, for safety and access.”
Asphalt road repair authorized
In other action, council authorized awarding a bid for this year’s asphalt road repair program to Ronyak Paving Inc. of Burton, in an amount not to exceed $703,310.
Village Engineer Brian Mader said this year’s program primarily involves the resurfacing of the Orange Hill Estates subdivision.
He said there were five bids on the project, and Ronyak Paving offered the lowest and best bid.
“Ronyak has done quite a bit, not only in our community, but also other communities that we represent,” he said.
Mader also requested that council award a bid alternate, which involves adding an inner-layer fabric.
“It’s just another added layer of protection that helps to reduce the amount of reflective cracking that you’ll get on a resurfacing job,” he said.
Council did approve the bid alternate, which is included in the total cost presented.
“The whole point of this is to extend the life of the asphalt,” Mader said. “Basically, an inner-layer fabric is the equivalent of adding another inch of asphalt.
“You’re looking to buy out 15 years on an overlay, at a minimum, with the fabric. Without the fabric, you’re probably noticing patching and stuff in about 10 years.”
Mader said he expects Ronyak Paving to begin the work in about six weeks and that it should take about two months to complete the project.
“No streets will be closed,” he said. “It’s an overlay, so you’re able to maintain traffic the whole time.”
Update on injured police officer
Police Chief Chris Kostura provided an update on the recovery of Detective Sgt. Michael Debeljak, who was seriously injured in an attack after responding to a call about a disturbance at a hotel March 30.
Debeljak was struck several times with a knife in the head, face, neck, upper chest and left hand during the incident. He also suffered a fractured skull and lost a lot of blood.
“The vast majority of the news is good,” Kostura said. “I heard he had the staples taken out of his head and had to have his head shaved.
“But he’s in good spirits. He had a little setback on the jaw injury, but that’s being addressed very shortly.”
The suspect, Cameron Howard, 26, of Cleveland, was indicted Monday (April 11) by a Cuyahoga County grand jury on two counts of felonious assault on a police officer, one count of attempted murder and one count of attempted aggravated murder.
Howard is being held on a $750,000 bond.
Police were called March 30 to the Extended Stay America hotel on Orange Place on reports of an unwanted guest who was “being disrespectful to hotel staff.”
During an altercation that ensued, Howard used an “edged weapon” to attack Debeljak without warning or provocation, according to the police report.
Debeljak was able to subdue Howard with his taser, then took him into custody, the report indicated.
Body cameras for police coming
Council President Brandon Duber asked about the status of body cameras for the village’s police department, as he knows it doesn’t have them.
“We’re working on it; we have a plan,” Mulcahy said. “We’ve been talking about body cameras for a while.”
Mulcahy said Kostura has wanted to integrate the body cameras with cameras for new police vehicles at the same time. She said the village expects to acquire the new vehicles next year.
“The issue here is there can also be a significant cost savings if you get the body cameras at the same time as we do the car cameras, so we don’t have to utilize two servers,” Kostura said. “We’re looking into different grants that are available for the body camera system.
“Keep in mind, body cameras are evidence collectors,” he added. “It wouldn’t have kept Sgt. Debeljak safe.”
Duber replied, “That’s not what I was implying.”
Mulcahy also said the village has set aside some money in a specified account for this purpose.
“I think it’s safe to say we hope to have (the body cameras) by the end of 2023, and I’ll make that our goal,” she said. “But we’ll need a lot of money to get there, and we’re working on getting sources for that.”
Kostura said he believes the village can acquire the body cameras and new police vehicles and cameras within a year.
“I just think (the body cameras are) something that we need to do soon,” Duber said. “I think that’s one thing that we’re maybe behind in, and I’d like to see that.”
Mulcahy replied: “We’ll move as fast as we can. But that’s a realistic time frame.”
Mulcahy added that even if the village is unable to secure grants to help with funding for the body cameras, she would recommend that “we go into reserves if we have to for that.”
“We’re doing it no matter what, but if we can save $20,000 to $50,000 (via grants), it would be very helpful,” Kostura said.
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