Avon Growth News, 2-1-06 to 3-6-06

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2-1-06 Tweaking the Master Plan

2-14-06 Bus Garage Update

3-2-06 Such arrogance almost deserves a monument to its stupidity

Remember Dana Reeve who died of lung cancer on 3-7-06 at age 44 after never smoking.

LETTER To The Editor, 3-5-06, by Taylor J. Smith

The real problem of the proposed Avon school bus garage, other than wasting a million of our tax dollars, is storing the busses along the west side of the Heritage North School.

In the Chemical Risk Management Report of 9-10-2005 (kept from the public until 2006) Roger L. Wabeke wrote: "It is not, in my view, prudent to place so many sources of suspect carcinogens near a highly populated area of youngsters early in their lives with a higher probability of respiratory-pulmonary cancer induction because of their youth ... the cancer induction latency period can be 10 to 40 years later ..."

PARENTS! Save this Chemical Risk Management report for any of your children who may attend Heritage North after the bus garage is built and busses are stored along the west side of the school. The City of Avon and the Avon Board of Education will be liable for treatment costs and compensation for pain, suffering, and loss of income because of any disease which may be reasonably attributed to your child's exposure at Heritage North as much as 40 years before the detection of the disease. (The potential liability for Avon taxpayers is in the millions.)

Hopefully, some citizens will pay to have Heritage North inspected for tiny (2.5 microns or less) particles of diesel pollution after several years of build-up, and then have Heritage North shut down until it is decontaminated and the sources of contamination permanently removed. For a while, Heritage North could be the most expensive bus parking lot in northern Ohio.

Mr. Reitenbach and the Board have our money, and they will build their monument. But on May 2, 2006, I will vote against the school issues; and I will continue to vote against school issues until the busses are stored on Avon's industrial land or on the fly-ash landfill the City owns at SR 611, or stored outside of Avon. According to news reports, there will be blacktop in the front of the bus garage, but stone where the buses are parked. This is done so that fluids leaking from the busses will not get into the storm sewers. It would be a lesser evil to pollute the ground water at the fly-ash landfill rather than at the school where vapors from the ground water could further impact our children.

Sincerely yours, Taylor J. Smith, Avon


LETTER TO THE EDITOR, 2-1-06, by Rhonna Smith

``The Avon Board of Education is asking for a 2.9 mill new operating levy and a 1.9 mill bond issue renewal in May. Operating dollars could be saved by contracting for school bus service. The 1.9 mill bond issue could be avoided in part by saving about one million dollars intended to build a bus garage at Heritage North School on Detroit Road by choosing other available options. The BOE is wasting our tax money by failing to negotiate with, for example, SBS Transit for school bus service.

I worked with Avon Superintendent Jim Reitenbach when he was Athletic Director for Elyria City Schools. He was well aware that Elyria contracted for school bus service. Why hasn't he recommended this to the Avon BOE? Does Mr. Reitenbach remember what happened when Elyria West was closed? Many voters were turned against school money issues by that action; and some of us moved out of Elyria, seeking a community which had some concern for the citizens and the way their tax dollars are spent.

Avon voters will have a constant ugly reminder of the waste of their tax dollars every time they drive by the yellow busses stacked up at Heritage North. Mr. Reitenbach, you are asking us for more tax money. Do you live in Avon, and will you be paying these taxes? You may be creating permanent opposition to Avon school issues.

Do we need a Taj Mahal bus garage? What's wrong with a pole barn on one-dollar-a-year land offered by the Avon City Council on Schneider Court or on SR 611 to the Avon BOE? The "newest fleet of busses in Lorain County?" Hmmm, is this necessary? If Avon has the "newest fleet of busses in Lorain County," sell the busses, out-source the bussing, and use the money to build classrooms. Re-allocate the million dollars of bus garage construction money to classroom construction.

2.9 mills plus 1.9 mills equals 4.8 mills which is an unnecessary burden for Avon taxpayers, who are being taxed to death. I'm voting against the levy and the bond renewal in May. I urge others to vote against these unnecessary and wasteful taxes.''

Sincerely yours, Rhonna Smith


LETTER TO THE EDITOR, 2-8-06, by Ralph White

``As a registered voter and Avon resident, who grew up in Avon, I've spent my professional life working on cars and trucks; and I know enough to write about the bus garage issue.

I support the idea of a new bus garage. The one-bay garage on Stoney Ridge is obsolete. I support jobs for Avon bus drivers, lounge facilities, restrooms, and driver safety. I do not support putting the bus garage next to the Heritage North School on Detroit Road. It's important that all of us be informed and not base our opinions on hear-say or newspaper articles alone.

Schools are to be in residential zones; and repair facilities are to be in commercial and industrial zones, for the safety of everybody, and for the esthetics of our neighborhoods. The zoning laws are being ignored by the Avon school board out of pure stubborness; and they have refused to discuss any other options besides Heritage North.

Put the bus garage in a properly zoned area. As Avon grows, more bus parking will be needed which is unavaiable at Heritage North. That land should be saved for classroom expansion. Does it make any sense to park the busses at Heritage North and run them around town to refuel them at the Middle School on Stoney Ridge?

Making the bus garage look like the Avon fire station is a complete waste of tax dollars; and trying to hide it behind mounds of dirt, fences, and trees, trapping diesel fumes, is even more of a waste. The brick left over from building the Heritage schools should be used for classroom expansion with color matched bricks and not wasted on a bus garage. All that is needed for a bus garage is a building that might resemble, for example, Ray's Auto and Truck Service on 611.

Diesel engines produce more torque, require less maintenance, last longer, and get better milage than gasoline engines. The newer diesels burn cleaner than the old ones, but they still all pollute. There is no Ohio echeck test for diesels, no pollution standards to go by. Engine production standards are not pollution standards. There isn't any technology to change this. Don't be fooled by talk of catalytic converters. They are on gasoline engines, but they do not exist for diesel engines.

The City of Avon hired Roger Wabeke of Chemical Risk Management to evaluate parking busses at Heritage North. Anybody who reads his report will see that putting the bus garage at Heritage North is a bad idea. Since the Avon school board is ignoring zoning laws, refusing to consider other options, and is wasting tax dollars, I won't be supporting a tax levy or bond renewal with my vote.''

Ralph White, Avon


LETTER TO THE EDITOR, 1-18-06, by Taylor J. Smith

``On 5-2-06 the Avon Board of Education will ask the voters to approve 4.8 mills of real estate tax for operating and capital money. I have never in my life voted against an Avon school tax; but, in 2006, I will make an exception.

The BOE has demonstrated its disregard for Avon taxpayers by not discussing school bus service with outside contractors such as SBS Transit of Sheffield. If SBS ran the busses, the BOE would save substantial operating money. It would also save almost $1 millon capital dollars by not having to build a bus garage. This money could be used for more classrooms.

Building a bus garage at Heritage North on Detroit Rd. wastes valuable land which will be required to provide more schools for Avon's rapidly growing population. And there is no room to expand the bus parking area at Heritage North as Avon's population grows. The almost inevitable consequence will be the eminent domain seizure of Pickering Hill Farm by the Avon School Board, destroying another piece of Avon's cultural heritage. St. Mary of the Woods will find more busses in its front yard.

It is rumored that the BOE will buy Long Rd. land where, because of a previous use, a local sewage treatment facility can not be built. So the residents will be forced to pay expensive frontage assessments for a sewer line. Is the purpose of the sewer line to open up Long Rd. for massive housing developments?

It is bad enough that the quality of life in Avon is deteriorating. To be asked to pay more taxes to encourage this down-slide is outrageous.''

Taylor J. Smith, Avon


MESSAGE to www.loraincounty.com , 11-11-05, By Oldtimer

``Eyes wide open, in a post dated 11-7-05, wrote how the Avon Board of Education has been squandering and proposing to squander our tax dollars: The BOE has squandered

"-$290,000 -$158,000 -$608,000 -$953,000" = -$2,009,000

from 2001 through 2004,

and proposes to squander

"-$853,000 -$556,000 -$1,122,000" = -$2,531,000

from 2005 through 2008, a total of $4,540,000 in the red.

Eyes wide open writes: "the forecast that was filed with the state ... Here is the website for everyone:


... Avon is the only district to spend more than it received for 4 years straight and the only one to drain the general fund like the board did. The reason that the district has not been put in deficit YET is that the Board started out with over $3 million ..."''


LETTER TO THE EDITOR, 3-2-06, by Matthew J. Smith

I resent having my tax dollars, soon to be wasted by the Avon Board of Education and Avon Superintendent Jim Reitenbach, used for the construction of a financially irresponsible bus garage. Viable options are available, i. e. contracting with SBS Transit, or building a far less expensive bus garage on the sites offered by the Avon Council on Schneider Court and SR 611.

Reitenbach said on 3-2-06, "The capital improvement funds already exist for the bus garage. That project is moving forward." I find Reintenbach's arrogance towards me as as a taxpayer highly distasteful.

Why can't that project be changed? Since my tax dollars, along with those of all Avon taxpayers, are already in the possession of the Avon BOE for this financial folly of a bus garage, I will never willingly give the Avon BOE and Jim Reintenbach another opportunity to waste my tax dollars. I will vote against the school money issues on May 2 and in the future.

Matthew J. Smith, Avon

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 1-25-06, By Julie A. Short

[Tweaking the Master Plan]

``AVON -- The honeymoon was over before it began for the new members of Avon City Council. They inherited two lawsuits, plus another [Romes] recently filed on the day the oaths of office were administered (Jan. 3 [2006]).

As reported in last week's edition of The Press [1-18-06], a group of residents have formed the Avon Citizens Committee 2006 (ACC) PAC [email accinfo@acc2006.org] and have sent letters to all Avon registered voters introducing the ACC and its objectives.

Included in the letter are the ACC's concerns that the newly elected council will "settle the above lawsuits, permit developments to go forward as proposed, and overhaul the Master Plan to accommodate further commercial development."

According to Ward 4 Councilman Dan Urban, council members have not formally met with the ACC, but he is pleased people are getting involved. ACC members have attended weekly council meetings with a representative addressing council at the meeting's end.

"The more people involved in the process, the better the results will ultimately be," Urban said ... "I recently spoke with (ACC member) Tim Bresnahan and he seemed very open-minded. I hope the goal is to meet the needs of the city at large and not just in those particular developments."

As for the lawsuits facing the city and how the new council will deal with them, Urban noted that he is still gathering the facts and believes council will come to "reasonable conclusions that are in the best interest of the entire city." ...

Council President Clinton Pelfrey said that council and the ACC have many of the same issues and concerns. "We want to hear their comments and those of any concerned citizens," Pelfrey said. "I do question their references in their materials and comments to the press that this council is in the 'pockets of the developers.' And that the only reason we are in office is because of the mayor ..."

On the subject of the City Center project and the rezoning request by Greg Romes (Lake Pointe Construction), Pelfrey believes this to be the most "contentious" of the three lawsuits ...

During council's Jan. 17 [2006] work session, several ACC members were in attendance and outlined their specific views to council.

"In the event that the council settles any of the forgoing matters, ACC requests that council put to ballot a charter amendment that requires a citywide vote on any residential to commercial zoning requests," PAC member Brian Parsons said.

"ACC is currently evaluating other potential necessary amendments. The proposed charter amendment is necessary to protect residential property owners from "commercial creep" and the consequences of council's decision(s) to deviate from and alter the Master Plan. In the unfortunate event that council is unwilling to vote in favor of such [a charter] amendment, ACC will be forced to seek and secure the necessary signatures. ACC requests council's cooperation in this regard and put to public vote these critical issues."''


NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 1-25-06, By Julie A. Short

``Master Plan review begins with cluster ordinance discussion ...''

[To read this article and other articles on the master plan, go to The Master Plan of 1992.]

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 2-14-06, by SCOT ALLYN, Morning Journal Writer

[Bus Garage Update]

``AVON -- After almost nine months of debate, hearings, expert reports, a lawsuit and the creation of a political action committee, City Council will allow a school bus facility to be built at Heritage [North school on Detroit Road] ...

Council voted last night to amend the district's special-use permit at the 35575 Detroit Road complex, clearing the way for the bus facility.

The ordinance to amend the permit passed on its first hearing as an emergency measure ... Normally, council would have three public hearings before voting. Last night, Councilman Tim Nickum, Ward 3, asked for this issue to receive that treatment as well.

''Last week, I suggested this go to three readings,'' said Nickum. ''I still do.'' ...

In introducing council's vote to treat the ordinance as an emergency measure, council President Clinton Pelfrey, at-large, reviewed some of the prickly issue's history ... ``In the best interest of the community, we should move forward.''

If Pelfrey expected a vote then, he must have been surprised by the response. A member of the audience asked if she could speak, and more than an hour of audience comment followed ...

The first woman said she was the parent of a child with asthma, and she was concerned for students' health if the facility were built at Heritage schools. When she joined Nickum in asking for three hearings for the issue, she was applauded ...

Addressing concerns about bus exhaust, Mayor Jim Smith [said] ... ``The new facility would be near only two or three lots in Bentley Park ...''

Resident John Small wasn't convinced:

''It's crazy that we're going to put the lives of our kids on the line,'' said Small. ''Some people will say there's a health risk, others won't. I don't want my kids out playing where the busses are parked. This isn't about traffic in my neighborhood, it's about students' health. I want the new facility in an industrial zone.''

Pelfrey finally brought the audience comment period to a close, and was joined by Councilman Dan Urban, Ward 4, and Bryan Jensen, Ward 1, in urging a vote on the matter. Council approved the ordinance 6-1, with Nickum the lone dissenter ...''



NEWS ARTICLE from The Sun, 2-16-06, By Mary Davies, Staff Writer

``AVON -- Time will tell if the addition of a school bus facility off eastern Detroit Road will facilitate retail development on nearby land earmarked for homes.

Even Mayor Jim Smith said he isn't sure whether developers fighting the city in court can bolster their cases with City Council's decision Monday [2-13-06] to grant the schools a special use permit amendment, allowing a new bus headquarters project to go forward ...

"We think this is the first of the dominoes," said Tim Bresnahan, an organizer of Avon Citizens Committee 2006, a political action committee formed recently to address development issues.

Breshnahan said committee supporters are particularly upset that council approved the amendment as an emergency, thus eliminating the possibility for resident-initiated referendum.

"While not everyone sees eye-to-eye on this issue, depriving residents of their right to at least seek referendum was simply inappropriate in our view," ACC leaders said in a statement Tuesday.

"ACC is very concerned that council will settle the other rezoning lawsuits on an emergency basis, which could effectively preclude ACC from attempting to take these matters to referendum if necessary," the statement said.

Concerns about the effect of buses on traffic and air quality fell on deaf ears Monday night as council voted 6-1 to immediately grant the schools' request and almost certainly end its legal dispute with the district.

Dissenting voter Tim Nickum, Ward 3 representative, wanted the public to have more time to discuss the amendment, introduced on Feb. 6. Gaisor described it as a proposed settlement to the 8-month old suit.

Council members were unsympathetic to residents who said they only recently learned of the project and the arguments against it, particularly the potential effects of bus fumes on children at the two Heritage schools ...''


NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 2-8-06, By Julie A. Short

``AVON -- By all accounts, it seems the great bus garage debate in Avon may be coming to end as council reviews a new ordinance to amend the special use permit granted to the Avon Local School District/Board of Education to allow for a school bus garage to be located at 35575 Detroit Road (Heritage North Elementary School campus) ...

Planning Coordinator Jim Piazza then presented to the more than 50 residents in attendance a new layout ... "Per the May 2005 drawings, the garage looks just like the fire station on Detroit Road without the clock tower," Piazza said ... The school district has extra brick left over that was used for both schools and they have enough to build the bus garage.

[Making the bus garage look like the Avon fire station is a complete waste of tax dollars; and trying to hide it behind mounds of dirt, fences, and trees, trapping diesel fumes, is even more of a waste. The brick left over from building the Heritage schools should be used for classroom expansion wuth color matched bricks and not wasted on a bus garage.]

There will be blacktop in the front of the building, but stone where the buses are parked. This is done so that if the buses are leaking fluids, it would not get into the storm sewers [it would just poison the ground water near the school]."

Ward 3 Councilman Tim Nickum, who was a member of the previous council which voted not to grant the special use permit last year, questioned why the ordinance was written as an emergency, meaning it wasn't required to go three readings unless council voted not to suspend to the rules during next week's meeting.

"People should be given a change to think about this," he said. "Emergency measure is not the way to go." [Passing it as an emergency measure prevents it from being taken to referendum].''

Ward 2 Councilman Dennis McBride, also a member of the previous council, but the lone member to support the special use permit, stated that he would like to see the issue settled before the trial date so the city and school district would not have to incur additional legal expenses [what about $1 million for the bus garage plus millions in damages to children over the years? See the 9-10-06 Chemical Risk Management report.] ...

Mary Berges of Bentley Park questioned why council did not answer questions regarding the bus garage during its Jan. 23 [2006] meeting and yet spoke with local newspaper reporters about a joint meeting between the school board and the city on Jan. 19. She questioned the lack of communication.

Jon Pinney, co-founder of the Avon Citizens Committee 2006 PAC proceeded to inform council that 4,000 copies of a document from Chemical Risk Management will be mailed this week to residents of Avon. It is unknown how the PAC obtained a copy of the report. He, along with many residents in attendance have concerns regarding health issues should the bus garage be constructed near the schools.

"It's astonishing to me that you are not going to take into account health concerns," he said. "This is about our health. There are carcinogens."

Pinney said his group made a public records document request to the city for all documents relating to the case and claimed he did not receive everything. In question is the Chemical Risk Management document, which does not support construction of the bus garage at the Heritage site. The report, submitted to Gasior on Sept. 10, 2005, recommends that the proposed bus garage be constructed at the existing bus storage area and that buses continue to be stored and maintained at this area, which is somewhat remote from a highly po pulated area such as the school and nursing home.

No one from the school board addressed the crowd during the meeting. The ordinance will be on council's Feb. 13 [2006] meeting agenda for its first reading [or to be passed as an emergency measure which prevents it being taken to referendum].''


NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 2-15-06, By Julie A. Short

``AVON -- Almost a year of discussions between city officials, attorneys, school board members and judges, as well as thousands of dollars expended in a lawsuit, has led to a 6-1 vote on Feb. 13 [2006] (Ward 3 Councilman Tim Nickum cast the lone "no" vote) to grant the board of education a special use permit to build a bus garage on the Heritage campus site (35575 Detroit Road).

Even at the 11th hour, nearly 125 residents filled council chambers to voice their concerns and plead for another extension to review the facts. After two delays, a trial date had been set for Feb. 27 if the new council could not reach a decision on the issue which was initially defeated June 13, 2005, prompting the lawsuit. Nickum had requested the issue not be passed by an emergency and be given three public hearings before voting ...

After the 6-1 vote (Nickum voted 'no') to act on the measure as an emergency, Pelfrey opened the floor to more discussion, which lasted almost an hour.

The first woman to speak was the parent of a child with severe asthma. She expressed concern with the health risks if the garage is built on the Heritage site. She referred to a report she received in the mail from the Avon Citizens Committee PAC, which highlights health-related concerns as reviewed by Roger Wabeke of Chemical Risk Management. The consultant was hired by the Law Director John Gasior to review the proposed bus facility ...

Another resident, Sean Flaherty of Silsby Court in Highland Park, stood up at the podium and presented the school district's five-year budget forecast, which he found on the Internet. "One additional argument is the cost of this project," Flaherty said. "Obviously this is a school board issue. I do not know the exact figures. But this project will affect the bottom line of an already struggling district. The district anticipates putting another levy on the ballot, which will force us to dig deeper into our pockets." ...''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Sun, 3-2-06, By Mary Davies, Staff Writer

``Levy or not, garage to be built

AVON -- Don't think failing the schools' operating levy and bond issue in May will make officials abandon plans for a new transportation facility at the Heritage elementary schools campus.

Superintendent Jim Reitenbach said some parents have indicated they will vote against the ballot issues, attempting to leave the district with too little money to build the project.

"The capital improvement funds already exist for the bus garage," Reitenbach said. "That project is moving forward."

[Such arrogance almost deserves a monument to its stupidity]

Construction is expected to begin in mid-May, shortly after a May 2 [2006] primary election which will decide a 2.9 mill operating levy and 1.9 mill bond issue continuation. Contracts will be awarded as early as March 21.

On March 9, district officials will learn what construction will cost for a 42-space bus parking lot and 4,000-square-foot bus maintenance garage and transportation department headquarters. Projected costs are about $900,000.

City Council members, five of whom are new to the body, on Feb. 13 granted the schools a special use permit amendment. Council last year denied the amendment for various reasons and sued to stop the schools from moving forward with the project.

The end of a legal dispute between the city and schools means buses should move to their new home, adjacent to Heritage North Elementary School, 35575 Detroit Road, sometime in December [2006] ...''

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