Avon Growth News, 2-23-05 to 4-30-05

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2-23-05 The Williams House is in danger

3-2-05 Will an offer to move it save the Williams House?


3-16-05 Heritage Village rezoning

3-24-05 Two new plants come to Avon

3-27-05 Heritage Home Loan Program

4-14-05 Society sees Detroit as Scenic Byway

LETTER TO THE EDITOR of The Plain Dealer, 2-26-05, By Joseph D. Richvalsky and Steven McQuillin

``Case, art museum should consider preservation

At a critical time when his toric landmarks across Northeast Ohio are endangered by urban sprawl and inner-city disinvestment, two important buildings of Cleveland's famed University Circle are under threat. The Cleveland Museum of Art will soon vote on whether to proceed with major changes to its beautiful, neoclassical landmark building and its stunning modernist addition. Just as alarmingly, Case Western Reserve University plans to demolish the original Mt. Sinai Hospital for a new facility. Both buildings date from 1916.

These two great institutions could continue the growing precedent of preservation while at the same time achieving their expanding needs. The research center site is large enough to accommodate a rehabilitated Mt. Sinai along with new buildings. It is also possible for the art museum to expand and still fully respect the architecture of its current buildings. Its own expert consultants made this recommendation at a public forum.

Historic preservation need not be a burden, as illustrated by many local projects. For example, the Cleveland Orchestra has won national praise for its preservation-sensitive expansion and restoration of Severance Hall, as recently featured in a New Yorker article. Mt. Sinai and the art museum deserve to be safeguarded for future generations.''

Joseph D. Richvalsky, Avon, and Steven McQuillin, Westlake

Richvalsky is an architect, and McQuillin is a preservationist.

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 2-23-05, By Julie A. Short

``Proposed renovations to Williams House angers crowd

AVON -- Back in June of [2004], preliminary plans were unveiled for the Henry Harrison Williams House (circa 1836) on the corner of Detroit and French Creek roads by Avon resident Mike Petrillo and his architect Mark Yager.

Petrillo and Bay Village optometrist Dr. Tom Kelly purchased the property and planned to build two approximately 2,000-sq.-ft. buildings behind the home. One of the buildings would accommodate office or retail, and the other would be a two- or three-story office building for Kelly's practice ...

Fast-forward to Feb. 16 [2005] at Planning Commission's monthly meeting where Petrillo and Yager presented new site and architectural plans for the proposed office buildings and additions to the Willams House ... The new owners have plans to demolish part of the house, a plan that isn't sitting well with members of the Avon Historical Society ...

The plans, as they currently stand at the meeting, were given Burik's approval, who was in attendance at the meeting ... "My comments are strictly how the building fits in with the district," Burik said. "I cannot speak on the historical aspect. I leave that to those in attendance."

And speak they did. One by one, members of the Avon Historical Society stepped up to the podium to plead their case to the new property owner, as well as Planning Commission.

"Although there's some doubt that history repeats itself, here we are again, as in June, 2001, asking that the Williams House be preserved," Historical Society President Taylor "Jack" Smith said. "The Williams House is an outstanding Avon century home, and it is one of three Avon homes on the National Register of Historic Places provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior."

The other properties listed include the Stone Eagle Farm and the Wilbur Cahoon House (cira 1825) ...

"I believe that anyone who buys a century home in Avon has a moral obligation to preserve it," Smith said. "Commercially zoned vacant land and vacant buildings are available in Avon for those who are not interested in preservation. Why buy a beautiful century home and then demolish much or all of it? It is here that the Planning Commission has an important role in maintaining Avon's small town atmosphere."

"This is also an opportunity to mention that the Avon Planning Commission can influence throughout the city whether or not century homes will be preserved when they are engulfed by large developments," Smith continued. "With good planning, development can proceed harmoniously with preservation."

According to Smith, on Feb. 2 [2005], Kelly assured him that he and Petrillo could utilize the Williams House property without tearing down any part of the Williams House, however some modification would be necessary that would not affect its appearance.

Chuck Huene was next to take the podium and he questioned [if] Avon's Master Plan [is being followed]. "The ordinance adopting Avon's Master Plan in 1991 states that it is to preserve [our century homes and our] small town rural atmosphere," he said. "The current proposal is not in compliance with the master plan of the city."

Jean Fischer, who along with husband, Dr. Delbert Fischer, currently own the Cahoon House, (2940 Stoney Ridge), gave the audience a more in-depth historical detail of the Williams House.

"This home is probably one of the first homes in Avon to have a wood floor," she said. "I don't know for sure, but that's what I read. If we don't save these few places that Avon has, they will be gone ... The house was a hub of the French Creek merchants. Without it, Avon will be another Anywhere, USA ... The new design will totally destroy that house."

Lois Shinko was not as kind as the others and with a quick wit, had the crowd laughing through an otherwise difficult discussion. "I have the house next door to the Williams House," she said. "The way the plans are now for the [Williams] house, it belongs on East 9th and Euclid ...

Councilman Mark Julius, whose ward the Williams House sits in, asked that the new owners consider the historic value of the building. "As a citizen of this town, and the ward representative," he said. "I would ask that you make every effort to maintain, if not in its entirety, that building. There is no easy answer. The answer is to work with the community. I would ask that you consider their thoughts and still make your plan work." After each person spoke, the room erupted with applause ...

Petrillo defended his plans and noted that the house is in "dire need of tender loving care." ... Petrillo also cited the home of Steve McQuillin, Avon's preservation consultant, as a project he is attempting to mimic. McQuillin renovated a historical home in Westlake by completely gutting the interior and by revealing the original brick front.

No action was taken by Planning Commission as all groups agreed to sit down and discuss the project further in the coming weeks.''

A serious problem with Petrillo's plan is the proposed ice cream parlor drive-through with a holding area of only four car spaces. Avon's code requires a holding area of 15 spaces. A safety hazard would be created if cars stack up on French Creek Rd. waiting to reach the drive-through.

In 2006, a third lane (turn lane) will be added to Detroit Rd. from SR-83 to SR-611. Meanwhile, more than 1000 homes are under construction from Stonebridge on 611 to French Creek Rd. at Moon Rd., then south to Detroit at Case Rd., then south of Detroit Road. At least 2000 more cars will be coming south on 611, southeast on French Creek Rd., and east on Detroit to converge at the corner of Detroit and 611 just as Detroit is being torn up. Cars stacked on French Creek Rd. for an ice cream parlor drive-through will only add to the congestion.

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 3-2-05, By Julie A. Short

[Will an offer to move it save the Williams House?]

``AVON -- ... What will become of the Henry Harrison Williams House (circa 1836) on the corner of Detroit and French Creek roads? As reported in previous PRESS articles, Avon resident Mike Petrillo and Bay Village optometrist Dr. Tom Kelly purchased the property last year ...

Renderings of the new design for the house, presented at Planning Commission's Feb. 16 meeting, show an extensive change to the house including placing a brick fašade over the existing wood-sided structure and also taking off ... [the eastern part of the home and replacing it with a glass "box"]. The plan is not sitting well with a number of residents, most notably those who are members of the Avon Historical Society.

Historical Society President, Taylor "Jack" Smith, along with several other members of the organization, sat down with the city's Planning coordinator, Jim Piazza, and the new property owners last week to discuss the future of the home. The Historical Society would like the home not to be altered ... [on the exterior].

"By altering the appearance of that house, you are seriously changing the character of the neighborhood," Smith said. "The home has great historical value. Avon's Master Plan, which was adopted by ordinance, calls for preservation."

The Williams House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior, but this designation does not mean the house cannot be torn down or remodeled.

"Being on the registry does not save a home," Smith said. "The only way it's affected is if federal funds are involved. Say for example, a highway was going to be built and a historic home was in the way. It could not be touched. It gives protection when federal money is involved ... [as when a mortgage loan is requested from a federal bank or a bank with FDIC insurance]."

When asked why have the designation if a building could be torn down without any legal ramifications, Smith replied that being listed on the registry makes the property owner eligible for tax credits.

"It also gives the building a certain amount of prestige," he said. "If you were to open an office or other type of business in a historic structure, you can promote the fact that you are in a historic building." Ron Larson, owner of the Tree House Gallery and Tea Room and developer of Olde Avon Village, is offering up his own suggestions to save the home.

"I had talked to Mr. Piazza and told him that I would be interested in developing a conversation with the parties involved to move the home," he said. "I have an interest as a business owner and also as a person who values history and preservation. I would like to see the home stay and be renovated, while still maintaining its historical value and appearance. After all alternatives have been exhausted, I would put together a plan to move the house. That is going to take time and money ..."

Larson is sensitive to the fact that if Planning Commission gives approval for the land development [the partial demolition], which could be as early as its March 16 [2005] meeting, there is nothing Larson or the Historical Society can do to stop it.

"Even if the home is altered, we are losing it," Larson said. "I would like to see a plan where the house is moved to the Village which has already become a sanctuary for historic buildings. Unfortunately, time may not be on my side."

The historic developer also noted that the Lewis House, home of Details gift shop, is listed on the Library of Congress, Department of the Interior Historical Homes inventory of historical homes. Larson saved the sandstone home from demolition by moving it from its original location near Wal-Mart to Olde Avon Village.''

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Williams House


glass box

DEMOLITION of the east wing to be replaced with this "glass box."

NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 3-9-05, By Julie A. Short

``Petitions begin circulating to save the Williams House

AVON -- The saga of the Henry Harrison Williams House (circa 1836) continues.

Members of the Avon Historical Society have taken their cause to save the Williams House from alterations and possible further demolition a step further by mounting a petition campaign.

"We're going to push this thing as far as we can," Historical Society President Taylor "Jack" Smith said. "The petition drive is one route. We want to see that the plans for the house are disqualified on their technical deficiencies."

Those deficiencies include the proposed ice cream parlor drive-thru with a holding area of only four car spaces. Avon's code requires a holding area of 15 spaces.

"A safety hazard would be created if cars stack up on French Creek Road waiting to reach the drive-thru," Smith said. "Mr. Petrillo and Dr. Kelly will have to go to the Board of Zoning and Building Appeals in April to request a variance." ...

The goal is to make the planning commission and board of zoning appeals aware of the critical situation at hand that Avon is in danger of losing its history.

Ralph White, Historical Society member, would like to see the owners utilize other vacant property in the city.

"There are plenty of other places they could buy," he said. "I'd like to see the house saved in its entirety. I don't want any part of it demolished."

According to Avon Planning Coordinator Jim Piazza, the Commission will be looking over the plans for the house again at its March 16 [2005] meeting ...''


Remarks on the Williams House at the meeting of the Avon Planning Commission on 3-16-05 by Taylor J. Smith

``As you know, the Williams House is an outstanding Avon century home; and it is one of three Avon homes on the National Register of Historic Places provided by the U. S. Department of the Interior.

I am asking you to reject plans for demolishing part of the Williams House and for adding a structure that is incompatible with the House and the historic neighborhood.

The demolition plan proposes an ice cream parlor drive-through with a holding area of only four car spaces. Avon's code requires a holding area of 15 spaces. A safety hazard would be created if cars stack up on French Creek Rd. waiting to reach the drive-through.

The demolition plan proposes only 40 parking spaces of the required 78 spaces. Inadequate parking could be a factor in the possible failure of the ice cream parlor; and the French Creek district could be stuck with another empty building, this one making ridiculous the remains of the Williams House. When people drive by, will they say "Who let this happen?"

Commercially zoned vacant land and vacant buildings are available in Avon for those who are not interested in preservation. Why buy a beautiful century home and then demolish much or all of it?

The ordinance adopting Avon's Master Plan in 1991 clearly gives the Avon Planning Commission authority to reject this diminishing of the Williams House. The proposed demolition could knock the Williams House off the National Register; and it violates the Master Plan mandate to preserve Avon's century homes.

Finally, I urge the Planning Commission and Council to pass an ordinance establishing guidelines for the Planning Commission when it has to deal with a century home anywhere in Avon, just as the Commission has guidelines for new construction in the French Creek District. Preserving Avon's century homes and small town atmosphere will maintain and increase the value of all our homes.''


LETTER to the Avon Planning Commission on the H. H. Williams House, presented on 3-16-05 by Jean Fischer

``Please ... read this letter about the Williams House ... The area from the 'Crick' west to Hayes Street is really Old French Creek. This area has more century homes than any other area in Avon. All the homeowners in this part of Avon have improved their homes and kept the original [appearance], many at great expense.

The Higgins family recently restored the Milo Williams House. It is directly across [Detroit] from the H. H. Williams House. On the opposite corner, the James Williams House is restored and has a cabinet shop in it. Lois Shinko could have torn down the [Cliff] Smith House but chose to restore it after the fire. How can the City approve the plans of Mr. Petrillo which would totally ruin the labors of all these neighbors?

What I do not understand is that for a great deal less money the siding could be repaired to retain the integrity of the building. On a home on the National Register, additions to the rear of the building do not jeopardize its standing. Therefore plans for an addition or building in the rear would not endanger the home.

Mr. [Tom] Smith, when he restored the building originally, was able to get tax credits for his restoration. I am sure Mr. Petrillo could get the same if he did not change the [appearance] of the building, since it is to be used for commercial purposes.

Next year we will have lived in Avon forty years. We have seen many changes, and we have lost several century homes in other areas. Is it too much to hope that the City will preserve our few remaining landmarks? ... The neighborhood is made up of home owners who love their homes and surroundings and do not deserve to have their part of Avon destroyed ...''


Remarks on the Williams House at the meeting of the Avon Planning Commission on 3-16-05 by Toni Barnhart

``Is it absolutely necessary to the well-being and survival of Avon to allow another ice cream parlor?

Will this enterprise bring huge tax dollars or prestige to Avon?

Does destroying a historical home bring any value to Avon at all?

The answer is clearly NO to all of these questions.

What we can be certain of is that Avon will open a door which can never be closed should it allow the destruction of this historic home. Once you allow this building's character and historical value to be compromised you will be unable to stop it from happening to any of our other historic homes and buildings. You will set a precedent. You cannot go backwards.

According to Mr. Petrillo and Dr. Kelly, the Williams house is not in the best condition (rotting wood siding, a bathroom on the verge of collapse) so, why would they purchase it in the first place? Their project brings nothing new or special to our community and it will clearly destroy the historic, small town flavor this area of town brings to Avon.

The residents of Avon depend on you to make good, clear choices for our community. The Master Plan ordinance of 1991 calls for the preservation of Avon's century homes and small town atmosphere and 72% of the voters agreed the city should create a Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Have the courage to save this historic building, our town's character and history and "JUST SAY NO".''


LETTER to the Editor of The Press, 3-30-05, by Carole M. Nelson

``Because I owned the Williams House for 10 years and operated an antique shop business from that historical property, my husband, Bob, and I read with interest the story appearing in last week's edition [3-23-05] of The PRESS which bore the headline "Williams House owner finally speaks out about plans."

That article purported to give the Williams House's current owners' side of their continuing efforts to obtain approval for plans to tear down part of the Williams House and build an addition to operate a "sports type hamburger ice cream parlor," whatever that is.

In the article, the current part owner of the Williams House, Mike Petrillo, was quoted as having said "The Nelsons (the former owners) did not put any money into fixing it (the Williams House)" and also, "This building (again, the Williams House) meant nothing to anyone. To me, this is a building no one cared about." Apparently, Mr. Petrillo is long on bombast and short on facts. I could not allow his uninformed and misleading comments published in your paper to go unanswered.

I bought the Williams House in January of 1995 from Dick and Mary Groshong who had owned it previously for approximately twelve years from 1983 to 1995. The Groshongs lovingly maintained the Williams House for all those years after Tom Smith had spent much time, effort and money to refurbish this fine old house.

When I bought the Williams House I was thrilled to own this piece of history and felt obligated to continue the tradition of those before me who cared for it so well. Although the property was in very good shape for its age (in 1995, it was already nearly 160 years old having been built circa 1836!), I wanted to add my touch to the property and to achieve the vision I had for my antique shop which was conducted under the name Sweet Caroline's at the Williams House. So, within the first three months of owning the property, I paid painters, carpenters, wallpaper hangers, plumbers and electricians more than $20,000 to cover all the walls with fresh paint and new wallpaper in all the rooms of the house, to upgrade the house's aging plumbing and wiring, and to repair walls, ceilings and floors which were understandably showing some age.

All of these improvements we made to the Williams House were carefully selected to keep the flavor of the period of the house. In the following nine years, my husband and I invested at least $25,000 more in improvements, repairs, upgrades and mainenance, including, but not limited to, replacement and repair of air-conditioning units, complete painting of the outside of the house, parking lot gravel, brick walk reconstruction, snow plowing, garbage removal, weekly yard mowing and semi-annual landscaping cleanup.

During my years, of ownership of the Williams House, customers from all over the country, as well as local customers, came back to view and enjoy the great architecture and historical feel of the house. Besides these many customers, the many antique dealers renting space conscientiously kept everything immaculate and were eager and happy to answer any questions about the history of the Williams House.

For Mr. Petrillo to say that we and others didn't maintain and care for the Williams House is ludicrous. Before Mr. Petrillo hurls more insults at people who owned and maintained (and many others who have had an abiding interest and affection for) the Williams House over the last thirty years or so, I would suggest that he build more of a track record of improving and maintaining that great historical building than his present ten months of partial ownership spent mainly in trying to lop off the eastern third of the house to build a no doubt much-needed brand new "sports-type hamburger/ice cream parlor where kids can hang out."

It is rather odd that a man of Mr. Petrillo's great business acumen would spend a lot of money to buy a house that had so many bird and bees nests, raccoons and mice running around and could have been condemned for its deplorable condition. Either he made a colossal blunder or maybe the Williams House wasn't in the kind of condition Mr. Petrillo would now have the readers believe.

Although I no longer have the privilege of owning the Williams House, my husband and I live in another century home. We just added to our house (circa 1832) and with the help of a good architect and contractor, the addition is hard to distinguish from the original house. Renovating and/or adding on to an older property can be done without destroying its irreplaceable historical value.''

Carole M. Nelson, Bay Village


NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 4-8-05, by Catherine Gabe, Plain Dealer Reporter

``Historic Avon house may be in for a change

AVON - Preservationists and developers have been screaming about ice cream ... because of plans to convert a century home into an ice cream parlor with a drive-up window.

The changes include tearing down the older portion of the Williams House, which historians say would jeopardize its historic status and knock it off the National Register of Historic Places.

At the same time, planning officials say property owners have every right to proceed with their plans if changes fall within city guidelines - which, at this time, don't protect historic structures.

"A lot of people came out here because of the century homes, and they are disappearing one by one," said Taylor J. Smith, president of the Avon Historical Society in one of Lorain County's fastest growing communities.

The Planning Commission hasn't approved plans for the commercially zoned property. Planning meetings have frequently erupted into debates between preservationists and developers.

"It's been a nightmare," said Planning Coordinator Jim Piazza. "There's been a lot of opposition."

The property includes the original portion of the home built by Henry Harrison Williams in 1836 and an 1846 addition. Williams, a prominent city merchant, ran the growing area's sawmill and gristmill. The wooden structure has housed several antique stores in recent years.

Smith said the earliest proposal called for demolishing the home's older portion to make way for an ice cream parlor in what he described as a "glassed-in box".

"That's totally incompatible with the French Creek District," he said, referring to the town's oldest section, which isn't a locally designated historic district but has guidelines for new construction that must adhere to a Western Reserve theme ...

The Williams House is the most recent example of why [Planning Commission] guidelines are needed to protect century homes and preserve as much of the historic structure as possible, Smith said ... [Planning Commision should have guidlines for dealing with century homes and other historic structures when proposals are brought before Planning Commission, regardless of the zoning.]

The latest plans would still demolish the home's oldest portion for new construction ... Owners Tom Kelly, an optometrist, and business partner Michael Petrillo did not return phone calls. Kelly wants an office on the site.

The main hurdle for developers remains lack of adequate parking, Piazza said. Regardless of whether they choose to maintain the building's historic character, they must either downsize the [new] buildings or seek a variance from the zoning board of appeals, he said. The Planning Commission meets April 20 [2005].

But Smith continues lobbying for a nod to the past. "If they seriously consider saving the house, I think it can be done."''

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: cgabe@plaind.com

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``Remarks by Taylor J. Smith on the Heritage Village project [Schafer and Gamellia] at the meeting of the Avon Planning Commission on 3-16-05

The rezoning of properties 35514 to 35676 Detroit road from R-2 to C-3 should not be taken lightly. What is done here will affect the preservation of Detroit Rd. elsewhere in Avon.

First of all, the residential property adjacent on the west to 35676 Detroit Rd. must be separated from the proposed commercial property with a continuation of the 8-foot high board-on-board fence that separates this residential property from Costco. Evergreen trees with the potential for tall growth should be planted on the east side of this fence.

However, this 8-foot high board-on-board fence should only come to the rear of the house at 35676 Detroit Rd., the Pickering - Piazza House, one of Avon's century homes, because this house should remain part of the Detroit Rd. vista.

Although 35676 Detroit Rd. would be zoned commercial, it should have its own curb cut and its own parking area to the rear of the house. This parking area should not be accessible from the remainder of the proposed commercial property.

The Pickering - Piazza House curb cut should not be used by traffic from Heritage Village. And the Pickering - Piazza House should be protected from demolition by a deed restriction. Unless these measures for Detroit Rd. preservation are guaranteed by the developers, the rezoning should be denied. A planting could separate the front of the Pickering - Piazza House from the adjacent residential property.

A landscaped mound, equivalent to the mound at the west entrance to Avon Commons, should partially separate the Pickering - Piazza House from the Heritage Village development. This landscaped mound should extend east to Middleton and then taper down along the west side of Middleton. The height of six feet for this mound, suggested by the developers at the Planning Commission meeting on 2-16-05, is very inadequate.

The failure of the developers of Heritage Village to buy an access to Middleton is the most serious obstacle to this rezoning. If cars must enter and leave Heritage Village only at the entrance on Detroit Rd. which also serves the school, cars that want to visit Heritage Village and Avon Commons will have to come back out on Detroit Rd. in order to get to Avon Commons. Unless the Heritage Village devlopers can show the Planning Commission proof of ownership of an access to Middleton, this zoning change should be denied.

Preservation of the Pickering - Piazza House and its vista on Detroit Rd. and avoiding traffic congestion at the entrance which Heritage Village would share with the school are important features of Detroit Rd. preservation. Going forward with this rezoning should require solid guarantees from the developers.''


NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 5-4-05, By Julie A. Short

``AVON -- Ward 1 Councilman Mark Julius summed up the proposed rezoning of eight parcels of land on Detroit Road (former Piazza Greenhouse property) from R-2 (residential) to C-3 (commercial) by saying "It's a classic case in how you want your town to look like, It's that damn simple."

The PRESS reported on Feb. 16, Avon resident and developer Steve Schafer, along with Bialosky and Partners architect Mark Olson, is proposing retail development with two outlots that could house restaurants on the property ...

Some on council and within the city are concerned that the rezoning could have a domino effect and open the floodgates for more retail along Detroit Road. Most were in agreement that the Avon Commons project works along Detroit Road because the retail sits far back and cannot be seen from the road.

Schafer read from a letter sent to planning commission members on April 26 his intention to move forward with the project with the following stipulations: The Piazza/ Pickering home will be deeded as a historic home and remain part of the parcel. Furthermore, the home will be kept with the original curb cut and parking for this house will be added in the rear. There will no connection to the proposed Heritage Village.

Second, Schafer would buffer the west property line with a 6-ft. high board on board fence with plantings on the east side of the fence. Additional planting buffering would be used on other borders.

The third item addressed in the letter was the proposal of one curb cut on Detroit Road in line with the elementary school entrance. Additional curb cuts could include two on Middleton Road ...

Council members questioned why the need to rezone the longtime residential property; and, according to Schafer, the area has changed with the development of the elementary schools [in particular, with the proposed construction of a bus garage at Heritage North] ... and would not benefit the city as an R-2 property ...

Council will continue to discuss that issue at future meetings and a public hearing is scheduled for June 13 [2005].''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 3-24-05, By DAVID SCHRAG, Morning Journal Writer

``Two new plants to bring Avon more than 100 jobs

AVON -- One new manufacturing plant will soon open in Avon and another should be breaking ground in the near future, according to Avon Mayor Jim Smith, adding more than 100 jobs ...

DM Trinity, a Texas-based company that makes and packages gourmet soups, will open its doors within the next month, Smith said. And Carroll Manufacturing & Sales, a Westlake-based company that makes food packaging material such as netting and film packaging, is expected to break ground within the next month, Smith said.

Both companies bought land on Avon Commerce Parkway, a stretch of property that was developed four years ago with the intention of bringing small businesses to the area, Smith said. ''These are the last pieces of the puzzle to Avon Commerce Parkway,'' Smith said ...

Both companies were given a 75 percent tax abatement by City Council that drops to 50 percent in the 10th year and ends in the 11th year, Smith said ...

Smith said this is the end of businesses coming to Avon Commerce Parkway because it's full, but not the end of other enterprises coming to Avon. He said he has about three other enterprises he is working on that should be completed within the year.


NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 3-19-05, by DAVID SCHRAG, Morning Journal Writer

``AVON LAKE -- Joe Firment's Lupe Chevrolet in Avon Lake is closing to make way for a new dealership on Chester Road in Avon, according to Firment, and once that is open his Lorain dealership will also close.

The dealership at 607 Miller Road will close its doors Friday, and customers under warranty will be able to take their vehicles to the Lorain dealership on SR 57, Firment said ...''


NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle Telegram, 3-21-05, By Mike Van Cleave

``AVON -- Joe Firment's Chevrolet dealership in Avon Lake will close its doors Friday to make room for a new dealership in a more visible location. The new dealership, which will be located on Chester Avenue between state Route 611 and Interstate 90, will be more visible to customers because it's on the freeway, said owner Joe Firment.

The move to Chester Avenue comes at a price, however. Firment will not only have to close his dealership in Avon Lake, but will also be restricted from selling Chevrolets at his Lorain dealership due to a contractual agreement that prevents him from owning Chevrolet dealerships within 10 miles of one another. The move to Chester Avenue will put the dealership within 10 miles of both the Lorain and Avon Lake dealerships. But Firment said he plans on keeping the Lorain store open in some capacity, possibly to sell used cars ...''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle Telegram, 3-27-05, By Cindy Leise

``Historic homes could get help

Imagine a program where $15,000 of taxpayer money results in $750,000, of improvements to homes in beautiful old Lorain County neighborhoods. Local history buffs and officials from the Cleveland Restoration Society have pitched the idea here, but Lorain County Treasurer Daniel Talarek opposes the plan to begin a Heritage Home Loan Program. 'Do we want to take taxpayers' money and put it in a special fund that benefits a select few'' Talarek asked.

Supporters of the program say ... a historic preservation program could eventually create millions of dollars of renovation jobs through revolving loans. '(Talarek) has an opportunity to generate a half a million or three-quarters of a million of jobs and he's worrying about possibly using $15,000,' said historic preservationist Marilyn Fedelchak-Harley. Plus, she said the National Trust for Historic Preservation is willing to put up $250,000 if the county commits $500,000 to the program.

Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, who created a Heritage Home program for Cleveland and its suburbs, said, 'People are leaving and they need a reason to stay.' Last year, it cost Cuyahoga County about $61,000 to back 160 loans totaling $5.5 million. Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan said the program keeps people paying taxes in Cuyahoga County and 'that's a compelling reason to continue the program.' ...

Lorain County Commissioner Ted Kalo used to live in historic Charleston Village in Lorain and has a soft spot for 'grand old homes,' but he would like to follow Talarek's advice.

Commissioner Betty Blair has asked the county's own Community Development Department to look into a pilot program. The third commissioner, Lori Kokoski, said she worries the program would help people who are better off than the average taxpayer.

Sara Hobbs of the Cleveland Restoration Society disputed the suggestion, saying, 'We're talking about very typical middle class people.' 'It's back in fashion to live in an older home,' Hobbs said. In Cleveland, 'property values are through the roof' in Tremont and Ohio City where a lot of renovation has taken place, she said.

Bill Bird, executive director of the Lorain County Historical Society, said he hopes to gently convince Talarek to give the program a serious look. 'We're saying there are other factors involved, such as the quality of life,' Bird said. Older homes have a special appeal, he said. For example, Bird said his own modest home in the Eastern Heights neighborhood of Elyria has leaded glass and other features that make it special ...''


NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle Telegram, 3-27-05, By Cindy Leise

``BAY VILLAGE -- It stands near the bluffs of Lake Erie like a fortress, a massive green Victorian constructed in 1876. Gun ports on the third floor overlook the lake for possible threats, and it's no wonder. The house was built by William Saddler Jr., whose father fought in the War of 1812, when British battleships used Lake Erie as hunting grounds for Americans. The design is Italianate, with elaborate brackets clinging to the house and holding up the eaves. Inside the front door, a parlor with high ceilings stretches 45 feet from side to side.

Owner Jason Schrantz saw the home's possibilities when it went on the market. He looked past the Day-Glo paint and other garish 1960s-era detailing to see the good bones of the house. He bought the historic structure at 30165 Lake Road for $325,000 and sunk about $250,000 into renovations, including a $150,000 low-interest loan he secured through the Heritage Home Loan Program. The program is supported by the Cuyahoga County treasurer's office ...

He likes to joke that there is a million dollars worth of wood in the home. The framing and siding are walnut, cut and milled on the grounds. The shutters are made of cherry. Schrantz, who works for a mortgage company, said he is purchasing another old home in Bay Village, this time directly on the lake. He hopes to get another loan from the Heritage Home program to fix up the Cape Cod-style house built in 1902 ...

Bay Village Mayor Debbie Sutherland and Sara Hobbs of the Heritage Home program have no problem with Schrantz getting another loan. Sutherland said participation is worth every penny of the $7,500 the city pays to the preservation society. The historic Saddler home is one of the first things people see when they enter Bay Village from the west, she said. 'It was falling into disrepair and it's an extremely important home,' she said.''

Contact Cindy Leise at cleise@chronicletelegram.com.

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Sun, 4-14-05, By Mary Davies, Staff Writer

``Society sees Detroit as scenic byway

AVON - Designating Detroit Road as an Ohio Scenic Byway is the Avon Historical Society's next attempt at keeping this city's country charm.

Ralph White, a historical society member, is heading an effort to ask the Ohio Department of Transportation to name a portion of the roadway, also called state Route 254 from Sheffield to Rocky River, to its current list of 20 Ohio scenic byways.

But what portion of Detroit Road, and whether any of the affected local governments would support the initiative, has yet to be determined.

White said he initially wanted just the 6-mile stretch of Detroit Road in Avon to become a scenic byway, but the other society members suggested extending it from western Cleveland to Sheffield. Doing so would require local legislatures in Cleveland, Lakewood, Rocky River, Westlake, Avon and Sheffield to consent. ALso, a few residents from each community would need to participate in the application process.

Avon Historical Society members want the designation not only to draw tourists to the city's downtown area, but also as a tool to maintain its character and preserve its history ...

Detroit Road in Avon mainly features older homes and a mix of independant retailers, which also are located nearby throughout the French Creek District.

White added that most of Detroit Road from western Cleveland to Sheffield offers similar sights, shopping opportunities and activities which would be of interest to tourists ...

Voters agreed in 2003 to include in the City Charter the creation of a Landmarks Preservation Commission and prohibit the widening of Detroit Road to more than three lanes.

When an application for scenic byway status is recieved, representatives department and its Scenic Byway Program visit the area and determine its fitness as a scenic byway. Paul Stanley, section chief of the Ohio's scenic byway program, said the state considers the proposed byway's cultural, recreational and scenic appeal.

Applicants, who Stanley said ideally should be an approximately 10-member committee of various civic and professional backgrounds, also must submit a Corridor Management Plan. The plan should describe the proposed byway in detail, its historical significance and a 10-15 year projection for development or change, Stanley said.

Stanley isn't aware of any request for scenic byway status being denied. All final decisions are of the transportation department director.

The designation process can take 12-18 months from the time the state recieves an application. Once approved, a scenic byway is adorned with official roadway signs, included on the state's scenic byways Web site and highlighted on state-produced roadway maps of Ohio.

White said Stanley indicated he would mail him an application, and the historical society has yet to approach any city officials about the project.

Prior to submitting an application, the society must obtain a resolution of support from the city of Avon and the governments of other affected communities if the byway application includes them. The project requires no funding from the affected municipalities or the applicant group.''


NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 4-20-05, by Molly Kavanaugh, Plain Dealer Reporter

``State's 21st scenic byway hugs lake

When it comes to scenic Lake Erie, the Marblehead Lighthouse ranks at the top - unless you're a driver trying to see the sights.

For 15 years, the self-guided Lake Erie Circle Tour has directed motorists primarily along U.S. 6 and Ohio 2, bypassing the lighthouse and other picturesque attractions.

That will change this week. The Lake Erie Coastal Trail, the state's 21st scenic byway, will take the place of the Circle Tour. The new route will hug the lake and lead to the steps of attractions like the lighthouse ...

"It's a great privilege," said Melinda Huntley, executive director of Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Inc., a nonprofit tourism organization that promoted the change.

The designation also is the first step toward becoming a national All-American Road, which means more exposure on maps and grants for historic preservation. Huntley will find out next summer whether the byway earns the designation from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Meanwhile, the state scenic label will show up soon on brochures throughout the region. Huntley is working on a guide to Lake Erie's 16 lighthouses, the first in a series of specialized maps ...

Maps of the Lake Erie trail and the state's other byways can be found at www.ohiobyways.com ''

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: mkavanaugh@plaind.com

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