Avon Growth News, 1-17-08 to 4-24-08

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1-17-08 Jacobs and DiBenedetto seek rezoning near Nagel interchange

2-13-08 Flooding

2-20-08 Planning Commission considers Romes rezoning request

3-16-08 11th Annual Heart of Avon Antique Show

3-17-08 Steve Schafer's Concord Village

3-18-08 School Board Eminent Domain Tonight

3-19-08 Romes issues ultimatum

EDITORIAL from The Press, 1-2-08

``Better manners

"Disappointing" is just one of the words that describes the actions of the Avon Board of Education members at their most recent meeting.

During this meeting, former superintendent Bob Barnhart sought answers to questions regarding the district's all-day kindergarten response. Not only was he summarily ignored and eventually dismissed, the meeting left numerous residents appalled at the treatment of Mr. Barnhart, a longtime servant of the district, and a current Avon taxpayer.

Mr. Barnhart, who served for 20 years as the school district's head, raised important questions regarding the district's policies, including fees for all-day kindergarten. He requested the information over a month ago and while the board said they were aware of his questions, they provided no response.

Of course, in addition to the Avon Board of Education's need to be reminded that they do in fact owe taxpayers responses to legitimate questions, they need to extend some courtesy to those attending board meetings, especially individuals with longstanding institutional knowledge they could benefit from.

Instead, those at the meeting were treated to an embarrassing display of disrespect and arrogance not needed at a public meeting. For those not in attendance, Board President Dale Smitek, in an unusual display of hostility, had his gavel poised to quiet Mr. Barnhart before he even spoke.

We cannot say with certainty if Mr. Barnhart's concerns were entirely legitimate because no public response was offered. Instead, we are left wondering if the board is being unresponsive for a reason, raising even more questions.

It's hard enough that board meetings are held at a time that makes it difficult for most residents to attend. But making it difficult on those who take the time and effort to make the meetings is reprehensible.

We'd like to take up where Mr. Barnhart left off and request a full accounting of just how kindergarten fees have been determined. Avon residents should be asking the same questions as to where their money is going and how the city's children's education is determined.''


LETTER to the Editor of The Press, by Bob Barnhart, 1-2-08

``To Avon full-day kindergarten parents:

The Avon Board of Education charges each family an additional $200 this year and claims it is for four additional bus routes for your full-day kindergartner.

The fact is that there are 18 bus routes for 128 half-day kindergarten children and 10 routes for 154 full-day children. Therefore, the parents of full-day kindergarten children receive fewer services, but pay an extra $30,800 (154 times $200).

In addition, your full-day kindergarten children are the only Avon students denied the opportunity to purchase a nutritional lunch each day of school. The Board has refused to offer milk to your child even though a Special Milk Program is available through the State Department of Education.

The Avon Board passed a new policy at their December meeting, [12-18-07] which denies full-day kindergarten children any opportunity to buy lunch or milk in future years. They passed this new, unfair policy because they were shown, in writing, that they have been violating their existing policy for at least the past three years.

It is extremely disappointing to have our Avon Board of Education make a special effort to deprive our full-day kindergarten children from the same services offered to all other Avon students.

The only remedy for the Avon Board's unfair treatment of full-day kindergarten children is for you, the parents of full-day kindergartners, to register a complaint for being over-charged for fewer services.

If you desire to discuss this matter, please contact me at (440) 213-5366 at your earliest convenience. Only you, the parents of full-day kindergarten children, can possibly turn around this unfair treatment.

Bob Barnhart, Avon''

Editor's note: Barnhart is a former superintendent of Avon City Schools.


NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 1-2-08, By Rebecca Turman

``Board president calls full-day kindergarten `cheap babysitting'

AVON -- A Dec. 18 [2007] Board of Education meeting became heated after a former superintendent asked for but didn't receive answers, and a board member called questioning all-day kindergarten policies a "silly issue."

Former Avon superintendent Bob Barnhart readdressed the board regarding his concern that all-day Avon kindergartners are charged too much for tuition and are not provided hot lunches and milk as other Avon students are.

Barnhart told board members that he felt he was being "treated with the same contempt as last month's meeting, that of ignoring."

"I find it hard to believe that someone did not have a question," he said, commenting on the Board's lack of a reaction to his comments and questions during the November meeting ...

"I would like to hear the responses of the Board from the 10 questions (I submitted)," Barnhart retorted. "I'm not prepared," Smitek said, while several other board members shook their heads.

"You've only had a month (to look them over)," Barnhart said. "That's understandable."

Smitek hit the gavel on the table. "You are insulting him (Zeman's calculations)," Smitek said. "And we aren't going to go through this whole list tonight," he said, adding that Rocky River schools K-5 do not serve hot lunches.

"What it (all-day kindergarten) is, is cheap babysitting," Smitek said. " I don't think anybody will argue that kids in all-day kindergarten get a better education than half day. It's a voluntary program. It will be aligned with House Bill 190. It's such a silly issue."

"Bottom line, I have difficulty understanding how you deprive full-day kindergarten of opportunities," Barnhart said.

"You had your 19 years as superintendent," Smitek shouted back. "No, you're wrong, 20," Barnhart said.

"You've tried to recreate and resurrect your reputation," Smitek added. The dispute came after Barnhart asked Zeman if the questions he submitted to the Board relating to all-day kindergarten policies were included in the minutes of the November meeting.

Zeman told Barnhart that per Ohio Revised Code the questions did not need to be included in the minutes. [How much did that legal opinion cost Avon taxpayers?]

Barnhart then questioned why he was placed under "Recognition of Visitors" on the agenda and not under an item to be considered.

"Every time someone has requested to be put on the agenda, in the nine years I've been here, I've put them there (under Recognition of Visitors)," Avon Superintendent Jim Reitenbach said.

During the meeting, Avon resident and parent Linda Schuler spoke up on Barnhart's behalf. "I have to agree that he's been treated with contempt," she said. "My concern is not his concern, but I think our concerns should be welcomed and I don't think our concerns are being welcomed. If he submitted questions to the board, they should be answered." ...

Being a taxpayer, Schuler said she would have liked to see Barnhart's questions addressed. Schuler also let it be known that she disagreed with Smitek's statement that all-day kindergarten does not provide a better education than half day. "I can tell you there is a large difference," she said, adding that her son was in all-day kindergarten last year. "I think you put a large burden on first-grade teachers when you have kids coming in (from all-day kindergarten), reading chapter books."

Ultimately, at the end of the discussion, Smitek asked for a motion for a resolution for tuition to be lowered and hot lunch offered to all-day kindergartners. Board members made no motions. ...''


Source: http://www.loraincounty.com

Title: school board meeting


Was anyone at the last school board meeting [12-18-07] and can share with everyone what Mr. Barnhart had to say?

Written by: golfguy on December 21, 2007


Title: Re: school board meeting


I was there and was appalled (but sadly, not surprised) at how the board responded to Mr. Barnhart's request for answers to his questions (which he gave to them back in November). They voted down his request to lower the Kindergarten tuition.

None of them would even respond to his request to allow for hot lunches to the kindergartners. Mr. Smitek basically said that full-day kindergarten was just "babysitting" for parents. I'm sure all those taxpaying parents are happy to hear that!

Mr. Smitek was extremely hostile -- making personal comments about Mr. Barnhart's past experience as a former super (evidentally Mr. Smitek has issues he has not yet resolved from his past -- a good therapist could maybe help).

Well, Mr. Barnhart was a super for 20 years; I suppose he must have done something right to be in that position for that length of time. I just know I was embarrassed to be an Avon citizen that evening ...

Mr. Barnhart kept his cool though; even when Smitek had his gavel ready and used it a number of times. The bottom line; the board ignored him; as they have done so many times before to many of us.

Mr. Romanchok, I wish you all the best at your first board meeting in January. I'll do my best to get there by 6; but as I requested at December's board meeting to have the meeting start time changed to 6:30; it was voted to start at 6; oh what a surprise!!

Written by: avonmomof2 on December 21, 2007


Title: Re: school board meeting


Mr. Barnhart, among other things, made [this] point:

1) The BOE can apply for free [or almost free] milk from the State for the full-day Kindergarten kids. So far the BOE has refused to do so ...

Written by: Oldtimer on December 22, 2007


Title: THE PRESS and the Avon Board of Education!!!


A great big AMEN!!! to the Press for blasting School Board President Dale Smitek in the paper today for his treatment of former Avon Schools Superintendent Bob Barnhart at the last Board meeting!

Mr. Barnhart has been seeking answers to very fair questions on the "tuition" costs of all day kindergarten. Mr. Barnhart served this district for 20 years and I for one would like to hear what he has to say on any subject related to our schools.

Mr. Barnhart has a "Letter to the Editor" on page 7 in today's paper [1-2-08] as well on this subject. I cannot even begin to quote the entire article on page 3 (where School Board President Dale Smitek refers to all day kindergarten as "cheap babysitting".

But the Press editorial on page 6 is CLASSIC! The Press refers to the actions of the Board as "disappointing". The Press acknowledges Mr. Barnhart requested answers to questions at a meeting a month earlier and the Board never responded. The Press editorial continues:

"Of course, in addition to the Avon Board of Education's need to be reminded that they do in fact owe taxpayers responses to legitimate questions, they need to extend some courtesy to those attending Board meetings, especially individuals with longstanding institutional knowledge they could benefit from.

Instead, those at the meeting were treated to an EMBARRASSING display of DISRESPECT and ARROGANCE not needed at a public meeting. For those not in attendance, Board PRESIDENT DALE SMITEK, in an unusual display of HOSTILITY, had his gavel poised to quiet Mr. Barnhart before he even spoke."

The Press finishes the editorial piece and requests a full accounting of how kindergarten fees were determined.

"Avon residents should be asking the same questions as to where their money is going and how the city's children's education is determined."

Well I can answer some of those questions since I have been posting about Avon BOE ARROGANCE for quite some time.

Hey PRESS!!! $1.25 million for a BUS PALACE!!! (Mr. Smitek, would that facility be a cheap babysitting facility for bus drivers?)

Now tack on the fact that we have the seventh highest per pupil costs for outsourced legal counsel in a NINE COUNTY AREA!

When the PRESS is done investigating this issue, hopefully they will start to dig into the land flips for a new elementary school off Long road. There are some very interesting names attached of people who would benefit from us (taxpayers) paying for a school out there ...

Just check out any posts on this forum by "debewebe". My hero!

Written by: Avon Eagle on January 2, 2008


Title: Re: THE PRESS and the Avon Board of Education!!!


Glad to see THE PRESS step up and take a deserving shot at the establishment. I know the writers / editors read this from time to time... so a big "Thank you and good job to them".

The arrogance of the board has been consistent and appalling. The refusal to change meeting times, the ignorance of campaign finance, the choice to end communication with the city council over the bus garage ... outlandish legal fees, poor treatment of residents and poor answers or no answers to simple questions.

Avon deserves better and the voters deserve to be made aware.

In football it helps to have a good coach and a good front office but the coach and the front office aren't on the field, they can't play the game. Avon's school district has done well overall but it is our kids and our teachers that are on the field. I give no credit to the arrogant, often ignorant and largely under-educated political administration ...

Written by: justmyopinion on January 3, 2008


NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 1-10-08, by Lisa Roberson

``AVON -- Parents who are interested in sending their youngsters to all-day kindergarten next school year will have to shell out a little bit more for the longer session.

Fees for all-day kindergarten for the 2008-09 school year will be $2,100, an increase of $100 from this school year, Superintendent Jim Reitenbach said. The decision to increase tuition was made at Tuesday's [1-8-08] school board meeting.

Treasurer Kent Zeman said the increase is needed to cover cost projections for the next school year and adjustments that will come due to the state-mandated sliding scale that was recently enacted.

"It's directly related to personal pay increases that will go into effect next year," Zeman said.

The sliding scale is the happy medium reached after Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann declared that kindergarten at public schools has to be free. The Ohio Senate stepped in after districts in the state complained about the possible loss of revenue, and added a clause to legislation that permits school districts not receiving poverty-based assistance to charge tuition as long as a sliding fee scale is enacted.

At Avon, that means parents who qualify for the free lunch program will pay $1,050 or 50 percent, while parents who qualify for the reduced price of lunch will pay $1,575, which is 75 percent ...

And despite the fee increase, Reitenbach said, the district will not extend its lunch program to the kindergarten students ...''

Contact Lisa Roberson at lroberson@chroniclet.com.

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 1-17-08, by Jason Hawk

[Jacobs and DiBenedetto seek rezoning near Nagel interchange]

``AVON -- The Interstate 90 interchange at Nagel Road that gained approval late last year already is driving economic growth as two developers asked Wednesday to rezone 120 nearby acres for medical offices and retail space.

One exit to the west of the proposed interchange, the Wal-Mart on Chester Road also is looking to get in on the action -- it wants to expand an existing store into a super-center.

The Avon Planning Commission voted unanimously to allow KS Associates President Lynn Miggins to split an acre lot -- a move she said will let Wal-Mart add significantly to its floor space in the future.

The commission also voted to recommend the rezoning of 88 acres south of Chester Road and west of Jaycox Road from O-2 [office park] to O-2/C-4 commercial [overlay] land.

James Eppele, vice president of the Cleveland-based Richard E. Jacobs Group, said he wants to turn at least 50 percent of the property into office space.

He said he'll try to attract medical and research companies, too, but the site could end up with restaurants and stores.

Meanwhile, a third developer, David DiBenedetto, who also appeared before the Planning Commission saw his proposal for 33 acres west of Nagel Road [and south of I-90] put on hold until the panel's February meeting.

DiBenedetto said he has a letter of intent from a tenant that he would not name to build on the site if it could be rezoned from residential to commercial.

Such a change, commission members said, likely would send the price of land skyrocketing and impact the city given that it still has to buy about seven acres from DiBenedetto to make way for the interchange's ramps.

"Let's stay away from it as far away as possible," Avon Law Director John Gasior said ...

The interchange received approval after a protracted battle with officials representing the interests of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County on the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, which handles federal money for transportation issues for the area.

The fear was that the interchange will speed the flight of residents and businesses from Cuyahoga County. It only gained approval after Avon officials agreed to revenue-sharing plan even though no federal or state money will be used to build it.

Contact Jason Hawk at jhawk@chroniclet.com.


NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 1-23-08, By Rebecca Turman

``DiBenedetto Building Company's request to rezone more than 30 acres of land on the south side of I-90 on Nagel Road was met with a roadblock during Avon Planning Commission's Jan. 16 [2008] meeting.

David DiBenedetto requested to have the land, currently zoned R-1 residential, rezoned to C-4 commercial property, as the property is located in close proximity to where the new interchange will be built.

"This was property exempted by the Charter [Amendment]," Avon Law Director John Gasior said, which means that a rezoning would not have to go to a city-wide vote.

Planning Corninission member Clint Pelfrey asked his fellow Commissioners how the rezoning would affect "any land purchase made by the city fer the interchange."

Planning Coordinator Jim Piazza said the city is nut yet ready to negotiate purchases with landowners. "Cou1d we leave it as residential until the interchange comes in?" Pelfrey asked of the DiBenedetto property.

"I'm not sure if I can give a recommendation for it to be held until then," Piazza responded.

"Why do you want to do it now?" Piazza asked DiBenedetto.

DiBenedetto went on to explain he's "looking at a few nice tenants, whome I really can't talk about right now. They asked me to rezone."

Casior said he oouldn't speak for the acquisition firm on how rezoning would affect a land take. "I think it would be foolish for the city to rezone without knowing what property we are going to need," Gasior told the Commission.

Pelfrey asked DiBenedetto whether the tenants could wait to rezone the property.

"They would begin building around the same time (the interchange was being built), so it (commercial development) would be in when the interchange goes in," DiBenedetto said, adding, "They are contingent on this (rezoning) passing this evening." ...

Gasior said the city would contact the acquisition company to see if the rezoning had any bearing on purchasing property for the interchange ...

Piazza suggested to the Commission members that the body vote on the rezoning, get more information and present the information to Council before the three readings have been completed.

"That would be six weeks until it goes to Council," he said. "That's plenty of time to find out. The 'taking' part is really something Mr. Gasior should look into."

During the meeting, a suggestion that DiBenedetto perhaps remove roughly seven acres near the interchange from the rezoning request was cooly received. "That's like I'm being penalized," DiBenedetto interjected ...

City Engineer Mike Brarnhall told the Commission he witnessed the Detroit Road widening acquisition process. "Let the acquisition people do it," he said. "Stay out of it."

During the meeting, Planning Commission Chairperson Carolyn Witherspoon announced that Avon City Architect Paul Burik spoke out against DiBenedetto's rezoning request, and he stated in a letter to the Commissionl that he felt the city should create ai new environmentally sustainable district in the area of the new interchange.

ln an interview, Burik explained his stance on creating a new district. "l think that piece of property has such huge potential because ofthe upcoming interchainge." he said. "Of course, it's zoned residential right now. which is not an appropriate use if the interchange goes in there. "I'm not disputing that."

"Rather than keep increasing the retail designation that seems to be sprawling, it would be nice to create a unifom concopt -- architectural cohesivenessâ -- as a gateway to Avon."

"Environmentally sustiainable building is catching on worldwide." Burik said, adding that the city should "think globally and act globally taking r\von's old reputation as a farminging community and translating that into a new architecturally advanced district.

"As you look down from I-90 (now), you see fields and green space," Burik said. "You could say the buildings could have green roofs: and, as you exit on that interchange, you'd still see green vegetation, instead looking at black tar roofs and air conditioning units. You'd exit and have a fresh, unique image in the area. It sets a precedent and everybody will be asking for it. I think we could plan it and have maybe multi-family, [another Timberlake?] retail and commercial and office close to the interchange.'

Burik stated that he felt the Commission should lead on issues, rather than just responding to whatever the developer wants."

"(We should) take a little extra time to develop a land use plan for what we want to happen and go with it," Burik said. "Anything that will go there will increase the land value. We have an opportunity to say what we want. It will be the gatevvay to Avon."

During the meeting Piazza said ... ([regarding] an environmental district) ... "Is it what we are ready for?"

Based on Bramhall's input. Gasior said the city shouldn't get involved in rezoning property until it consults the acquisition conpany. "A decision by this body interferes vith that property," Gasior said. It changes the value." Piazza then mentioned that even a negative recommendation would go on to Council.

Gasior suggested that Commission members hold off voting on the item until the next meeting, after the city has consulted with City Planner Mark Majewski ...

DiBenedetto agreed to wait until next month to vote on the rezoning ...

Since the Planning Commission meeting, a sign was placed on the DiBenedetto property advertising "New Shopping Center. Now Leasing."''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 1-13-08, By John Edwards


``SHEFFIELD VILLAGE -- Sheffield Village Council's Feb. 7 [2008] Committee of the Whole meeting was dominated by a lengthy discussion of flooding issues. After praising the work of the Village's undermanned service and water department crews in cleaning out clogged sewers, drainage ditches and basements during last Tuesday's and Wednesday's heavy rains, Mayor John Hunter detailed a new, regional approach to holding back run off from rain storms that have frequently flooded south end residences.

"Dr. Herdendorf and I met with Avon again," Hunter said. "He came up with some new options, to use an existing sand pit and several other sites. Maybe we can hold back enough water by using detention ponds in strategic sites instead of trying to create one huge pond.

Mayor Smith is approaching some Avon residents about a pond site. North Ridgeville is looking at a site where they might be able to put in another pond to hold back more water even before it gets to Avon. Our new Village Engineer is working hard on this flooding problem."

Hunter said he will meet, probably on Feb. 20, with former Village Engineer Bramhall Engineering, KS Associates (the new Village Engineer), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, representatives of County Engineer Ken Carney's office, the Lorain County Metro Parks, U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton's office and State Senator Marcy KapturŐs office. "I don't want to put a band aid on this, I want to fix it," Hunter said. "But we can't do it alone.

"Betty Sutton is working on trying to find some federal funding to help us out, and Marcy Kaptur is trying to get us some state money," Hunter said. "The Metro Parks have started working to improve their drainage in some areas.

We're looking at raising the levees and lowering the depth of the Waterford spillway ponds so they'll hold more water. We're negotiating with Cobblestone to share some of the expenses, like the engineering. We're looking into opening up a second drain out of Cobblestone to empty into a pond behind Sears Hardware.

"Ed Herdendorf's been educating me on some of this terminology," Hunter said. "Now we're talking about creating 'clean water' ponds instead of holding ponds.

Our Law Department and our engineers agree that residents and FEMA should be notified of the true size of the flood plain. And we've had crews out cleaning ditches and splash basins, opening tiles in all areas, when theyŐre not salting or plowing snow. Opening tiles and enlarging ditches is not the total answer though, that just moves water downstream faster, creating problems somewhere else."

"A lot of this terminology is confusing," Herdendorf said. Herdendorf, OSU Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences, is a geologist and the founding director of Ohio Sea Grant, who ran OSU's Stone Lab on South Bass Island for decades, was Hunter's first appointment to the Storm Water Utility Board in January.

"Everybody's been talking about retention ponds," Herdendorf said. "Retention ponds are really water quality control controls, not flood controls. The outlet is set to always hold water so sediment can settle and the water clears. They can't take in much run off. Dry basin detention ponds are what we need.

About 3,000 feet of the Jungbluth Ditch flows along the ... beach ridge, whose sandy soil is absorbent. We need to take advantage of that. The water table is high, here. It would take a pond of 100 surface acres, at least five feet deep to hold back 50 percent of the storm water in a heavy rain.

There's a 27 acre sand pit, a 'borrow pit,' along the tracks north of Detroit Road in Avon that could be a very effective place for a pond, if we can get access to it. Avon is talking to the private owners, at least one of whom is opposed to any change. There's a retention pond behind Parkhurst, in addition to the one behind Giant Eagle at Sheffield Crossing. But those are always full of water and can't hold much back."

Herdendorf said several ponds at optimal locations could be more effective at holding back rain runoff than one large pond. Bramhall Engineering had identified the site of the proposed Rite Aid Drug Store, on the northeast corner of Detroit and Abbe as the best place for a large pond.

That site is part of the sandy soil beach ridge Herdendorf spoke of as being absorbent enough to help reduce the volume of runoff and is at the confluence of four main runoff sources: Jungbluth Ditch which flows from North Ridgeville through Avon, plus the large impervious surfaces of Cobblestone and several large residential developments that were built without storm water controls.

The ditch is really Sugar Creek, which empties into a wetland in French Creek Reservation, then into French Creek itself, which carries the rain water to the Black River.

Sheffield's flooding problem seems to be gradually worsening as silt fills ditches and culverts during each successive flooding event. Formerly open land has been paved and/or built out, and much of the remaining open land has been logged. Trees take up a lot of water, but stumps can't drink much.''

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LETTER from The Avon Citizens Committee, February, 2008

``Dear Neighbor,

Approximately 2 years ago the fate of our neighborhood and Lake Pointe Construction's commercial development at the corner of Avon Belden Road and Detroit went into litigation and mediation. The ongoing mediation is behind "closed doors" and not available to the public. To date it appears there has been no mutually acceptable resolution. Nevertheless there is news.

The Planning Commission has been asked to consider [on 2-20-08] two rezoning requests for the disputed properties. One request is authored by Greg Romes (Lake Pointe Construction) and the President of Avon City Council, Craig Witherspoon, authors the second request.

Romes proposal
Additional southern property along Avon Belden Road [Center Rd., SR-83] is to be rezoned from residential R-2 to commercial C-2.

[I] Greg Romes - Lake Pointe Construction:

The drawing to the right shows the currently proposed zoning proposal. As noted, additional southern property along Avon Belden Road is to be rezoned from residential R-2 to commercial C-2.

If approved, the commercial development on the east side of Avon Belden Road would extend significantly further south than the commercial development on the west side of the road.

Lake Pointe is further asking to change the balance of the land they own to R-3 multi-family residential zoning. This zoning code includes multi-family apartments such as those built on Chester Road west of State Rt. 83. [Timberlake]

It is noted that Lake Pointe's rezoning request includes property not included in the original complaint. This is significant in that this proposal would be [subject to] the Charter Amendment and be required to go to public ballot for approval. This would change if the Judge includes the additional parcels in the active litigation, an action not taken thus far.

Witherspoon proposal
Mr. Witherspoon, in his letter, did not indicate if he was asking for O-1 or O-2 office zoning. There are significant differences.

[II] Craig Witherspoon - Avon City Council:

The drawing to the left shows the proposed zoning change. In this proposition the commercial C-2 zoning area remains unchanged. The southern parcels as shown would be rezoned "Office District." Please note that the Council has proposed rezoning only for the property included in the original complaint. This property is specifically excluded from the Charter Amendment and therefore a public vote is not required.

Mr. Witherspoon, in his letter, did not indicate if he was asking for O-1 or O-2 office zoning. There are significant differences. O-1 is the lower level while O-2 is for an office park type of development which includes hotels. Paragraph 1274.01 (e)(1) of the Avon Code states,

"To provide Planned Office Districts (O-1) as functional and aesthetically pleasing areas for conducting business to serve as a transitional area between residential uses and commercial uses."

Since the property in question abuts residential property on two sides and across Avon Belden Road, O-1 would appear to be the only choice permitted by Avon Code.

A Third Alternative:

Simply say no to both requests and allow the zoning to remain as is (R-2). Remember, the planning consultant, hired by the City, proposed this zoning and indicated that it was appropriate to the area.

Things to think about:

1) Perhaps mediation has failed and the two sides are positioning for a court battle. Would the City have a stronger position going in with O-1 than R-2?

2) Is Lake Pointe Construction really interested in building low cost housing, or are they planning to divest the property to someone who is, or is Lake Pointe simply threatening in an attempt to get the City to move?

3) O-1 is better for our neighborhoods than C-2 but is that good enough? What impacts will O-1 have on property values, traffic, and noise and light pollution?

4) If the City rezones O-1 will it end or will it still go to court? If you go to court with O-1 you will not come out with R-2! Based on past performance this case will likely go to trial.

The proposals are to be discussed at a Planning Commission Public Hearing to be held Wednesday, February 20th at 7:00 PM, Avon City Hall on Chester Road.

If you want to have an impact you must attend the meeting and make your feelings known. Mr. Romes will be there with an entourage of attorneys attempting to sell his proposal. He needs to understand we are alive and have not changed our minds.''

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Attention Antique Lovers!

The 11th Annual Heart of Avon Antique Show will be held Sunday, March 16, 2008, 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., at the Avon Heritage School, 35575 Detroit Rd., Avon, Ohio, east of Rt. 83 on Detroit just across from the east entrance to Avon Commons.

General AdmIssIon: $4.00

Early Bird (9:00 - 10:00) $6.00

Door Prizes! Free Parking! Delicious Food!

This is a great show that you will not want to miss. Quality antique vendors from all over Ohio display their prize pieces -- all available for you to take home and start enjoying. Serious antique hunters, come early (the early bird gets the worm). Stay all day and enjoy delicious lunch on the premises, or have your hand stamped and come back later.

The show features more than 50 dealers, door prizes awarded hourly, and refreshments will be available.

Don't miss this opportunity for one-stop shopping for unique and one of a kind offerings. The dealers will help you find that special piece -- 50+ dealers featuring antique furniture, primitives, collectibles, china, glass, toys, jewelry and memoriblia, our 11th year.

Also visit the historic French Creek District shops along SR 254 from SR 83 to French Creek Road for specials to usher in the Spring thaw.

This is a great show that you will not want to miss. Quality antique vendors from all over Ohio display their prize pieces -- all available for you to take home and start enjoying. Serious antique hunters, come early (the early bird gets the worm). Stay all day and enjoy delicious lunch on the premises.

For more information visit www.frenchcreekdistrict.org or call Lois Shinko at (440) 937-5204 or (440) 934-6700.


for information about tables at the show, please call (440) 937-5204 or (440) 934-6700.

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 3-16-08, By Cathy Dimacchia, Morning Journal Correspondent

``Concord Village - Schafer's latest Avon project

AVON -- Taking root in eastern Lorain County and western Cuyahoga County, Schafer Development Co. is expanding its residential development in Avon. Concord Village, a community of villas and townhouses, is its latest endeavor in Avon.

Comprised of 13 wooded acres on Chester Road, just west of SR 83, the project encompasses 56 villas and 39 townhouses. With 13 already completed, Concord Village is fast becoming recognized for its proximity to city conveniences while exuding small town charm.

"The best quality at the fairest price" is the foundation Don Schafer built his company upon at its launching in 1970. Two of his sons have joined him in the business; Steve has served as president since 1991 while Joe is vice president/sales and marketing ...

Their father's vision is reflected in the company's numerous awards. Schafer Development Co. has recently been chosen as a "Weatherhead 100" company. This distinction awards the fastest growing companies in Northeast Ohio to have shown consistent growth over the last five years. The Building Industries Association has recognized Schafer Development for excellence in construction.

Concord Village offers four versatile floor plans from which to choose. The villas feature a lower-level floor plan as well as an upper-level floor plan. Upon entering the lower-level villa, the size and openness make quite an impression. A corner gas fireplace is the focal point of the great room. Granite countertops, sleek black appliances, raised snack ledge and spacious dining area are among the appointments emphasized in the kitchen.

Measuring 12 feet 11 inches by 15 feet 4 inches, the master bedroom has a walk-in closet, master bath with shower, dressing area and large linen closet. There are two bedrooms total and two full baths.

The upper level floor plan mirrors the lower level with the exception of vaulted ceilings. Both choices include an attached two-car garage, laundry area, porch and Andersen windows with aluminum trim. Mannington floors plus a Trane furnace are also standard features.

Townhouses offer a multitude of options to suit individual needs. Floor plans offer the choice of a first- or second-floor master bedroom suite. As you tour the townhouse models, the attentiveness to detail that Schafer Development supplies to all of their projects grabs the attention. The choices and possibilities are seemingly endless from the design, flooring choices, paint colors, basement and optional sunroom. Prices in Concord Village begin in the $170,000s.

All residents have access to walking trails and will appreciate maintenance-free living ... Resident Amy Fisher said she couldn't be happier with her move to one of Concord Village's villas. "The location is great - I am only one minute from I-90," Fisher said. "Grocery stores, gas stations, medical facilities ... they are all only minutes away. I love the close proximity to all I need ..."

Three additional communities have recently been opened in Avon, as has a multi-unit condominium development in Avon Lake. Some of Schafer Development's recent commercial construction projects include the Avon Library, Countryside Plaza and The Goddard School, all in Avon.

Most recently completed is the Holy Trinity School addition, a multi-purpose facility which more than doubles the school's size, and adds a gymnasium and much-needed office space.

Commercial construction plans include Stonebridge Center, an office/retail shopping plaza on Colorado Ave. (SR 611), an office condominium building on SR 83 at Chester Road, another condominium office structure on Hale Street and a unique retail/residential property in Avon's historic French Creek District.''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 3-19-08, by CHANDA NEELY, Morning Journal Writer

``Citizens rally around Avon homeowner; school threatens to use eminent domain

AVON -- Citizens are rallying around Mary Jane Wolfe after the Avon school board passed a resolution to take possession of 25 to 27 acres of her property by eminent domain.

The group Avon Citizens for Change is urging people who do not agree with the board's decision to attend tonight's school board meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the media center at Heritage North Elementary School.

''We are outraged at the school board's decision to seize one of our longtime residents property through eminent domain,'' the group said in a statement posted on its Web site. ''We are asking citizens of Avon to attend the March 18 board meeting and show your support for Mary Jane Wolfe.''

The property is located at 2740 and 2758 Center Road. The district is interested in taking possession of 25 to 27 acres behind Wolfe's home in order to build a new middle school ...''



Avon Citizens for Change

The Avon Citizens for Change is committed to improving the lives of every citizen of Avon, Ohio. Through information and advocacy, we can make a difference! We will meet with our elected officials, attend hearings, and support candidates that are advocates of change. Together, we can successfully make improvements in our community so we can build a better world for our children. We must hold our elected officials accountable for the decisions they make and ensure they are in the best interest of ALL Avon residents.

Our volunteer base is growing daily as citizens have found a voice and renewed sense of hope. You too can make a difference. Please send us an e-mail at


We are outraged at the School Board's decision to seize one of our long time residents property though eminent domain. We are asking for the citizens of Avon to attend the March 18th board [2008] meeting to show our support for Mary Jane Wolfe. The meeting is held in the media center of Heritage North School at 6:30 PM ...

Please join us for an open forum discussion on Monday, March 24th at 7:00 pm at the Avon United Methodist Church Barn, 37711 Detroit Road, Avon to discuss this issue and any others that you may have regarding our city ...''

For more, Click Here

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 2-27-08, By Rebecca Turman

``Lake Pointe property proposed for office, Old School House has to go

AVON -- The city of Avon's Planning Commission made a recommendation to City Council during a Feb. 20 meeting to rezone a portion of the Lake Pointe Construction 10-acre property located just south of the corner of SR 83 and Detroit Road that is currently still in litigation. The lawsuit has been ongoing for two years.

During the meeting, Planning Commission reviewed two requests. One was a referral from council recommending that the property currently involved in a lawsuit against the city be rezoned from R-2 (residential single family) to O-1 (office district).

The second request was from Greg Romes, owner of Lake Pointe Construction. His request was to rezone the same property addressed by council's recommendation, along with additional parcels, from R-2 to R-3 (multi-family).

"The body will go into executive session, and after that the body will reconvene and take up the issue of both of those rezoning requests," Avon Law Director John Gasior said, adding that the items would be discussed during executive session because of the pending lawsuit.

Ken Stumphauzer, who represented Romes during the meeting, said the zoning recommended by council is "inappropriate." ...

While Stumphauzer acknowledged that the city finds office zoning to be a suitable transition from R-2, he argued that R-3 would be an even more suitable transition ...

Stumphauzer stated that the commission's action to discuss its decision-making process during executive session would be illegal. "Any discussions must be in public," he said. "Lake Pointe demands that these comments be discussed publicly ..."

[Why does Stumphauzer participate in the executive sessions of the Avon Board of Education?]

Ultimately, the commission did go into executive session, but not before public comments were heard ...

Not knowing Romes' intent for R-3, Upton Court resident Matt Folds said, "Low-income housing doesn't really bode well for the image of Avon. Several of us here today kind of all feel the same way. Why would we want to put something like this in an area that has such a spotlight on it with the schools?"

Clark Perrin, a member of the PAC Avon Citizens Committee and a Falcon Crest Avenue resident, said Planning Commission has three choices. "Accept council's recommendation, accept Romes', or a third–do nothing," he said.

Emory Drive resident Jonathan Small shared his thoughts on the zoning. "We went through this thing about a year ago," he said. "There was a line of demarcation, per se, drawn. If we suddenly drop in office (zoning), it's not retail but it's commercial.

By the time you come in for this reading (at council), there is a chance this proposal could look like something else. I've seen 10 different (requests) so far. The more you give him, the more he's going to want. Take the office out of there. (With) the R-3, you are giving him something that you don't know what he's going to do with. For us to do anything other than leave it at the zoning it is at now, I think is a little preposterous."

The commission unanimously voted to rezone the property to office, per council's referral, and it unanimously denied Lake Pointe Construction's request for R-3.

The day after Planning Commission's vote to recommend an office district zoning for the property, Romes sent a letter to Piazza stating that "the building known as `The Old School House' that sits adjacent to the cemetery and on the site of our City Centre Property is available for new ownership." ...

However, Romes told Piazza that the city officials would have to let him know if they were interested in accepting the donation of the century-old landmark by March 5 [2008].

If the city is interested in the landmark, Romes said in the letter that the Old School House needs to be removed from his property "within the following 60 days." The city would be responsible for finding a new location for the Old School House as well as covering the costs to move the structure ...

Romes applied for a demolition permit for the Old School House in February 2007. The Landmarks Preservation Commission denied Romes' request; however the commission can only stall demolitions for a period of six months, which has expired.''


NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 3-5-08, By Rebecca Turman

``AVON -- The fate of the Avon Center School at 35955 Detroit Road, known in the city as "The Old Schoolhouse," is still unknown.

Greg Romes, owner of Lake Pointe Construction, currently owns the Old Schoolhouse and the property it rests on. Romes sent a letter to Avon Planning Coordinator Jim Piazza on Feb. 21 [2008], telling him that the city would have to have a plan for the fate of the Old Schoolhouse by March 5 [2008], and the city would have to relocate the Old Schoolhouse within 60 days or it would be demolished.

The letter came just a day after Avon Planning Commission made a recommendation to council to rezone approximately 10 acres of Lake Pointe Construction property at SR 83 and Detroit Road, which is currently in litigation, from residential to office. During the Feb. 20 meeting, Romes made a separate request to rezone the same property to multi-family ...

"(The city) has have all kinds of vacant property," Romes said. "They could move it onto temporary property, but they aren't inclined to do that. At least move the home onto a vacant piece of property (behind) the police station. It's a very simple thing to do ...

The city is currently reviewing options, Avon Mayor Jim Smith said. There are several of parties interested in the century-old landmark, according to Smith. "The timeframe is a little tight for us," he said. "The city can't buy it. We don't have any place to put it. We weren't counting on anything (financially) like that." Moving the landmark would be expensive, Smith said, adding that he estimated it would cost more than $100,000.

[The City could make a no-interest loan to move the Avon Center School]

Romes requested a demolition permit for the Old Schoolhouse in February 2007, and in April 2007, owner of Olde Avon Village Ron Larson requested permission from Planning Commission to move the Old Schoolhouse to Olde Avon Village. The Schoolhouse was to be moved next to The Hen 'n the Ivy.

"I'm the backup guy," Larson said when he received a variance from Zoning Board in April to relocate the Old Schoolhouse. Originally, the plan was that Romes would donate the structure to the Avon Historical Society, which would then turn the landmark over to Larson. Avon Historical Society President Taylor "Jack" Smith said making that happen now is impossible with the time constraint imposed by Romes.

"The Avon Council made a mistake in 2006 when it rezoned the property, on SR 83 and on the south side of Detroit, commercial without obtaining a binding agreement from Romes to preserve the Avon Center School (Old Schoolhouse)," Jack Smith said. "Now we are paying for that mistake with further degradation of the quality of life in Avon."

When asked if he would be able to commit to relocating the Old Schoolhouse on such short notice, Larson said, "I'd rather just let it lie and see what happens here."

Building Preservation Consultant Steve McQuillin, of Steven McQuillin & Associates in Westlake, said the Old Schoolhouse "has been on the threat list for a long time." ...

McQuillin went on to say, "The schoolhouse is a wonderful landmark. If someone wanted to save the building and renovate it, there would be some subsidies that they could apply for."

Even if a new location is found for the Old Schoolhouse, McQuillin said its value as a historical landmark wouldn't remain the same. "It's less valuable when you move it because it's missing the association (of its surroundings)," McQuillin said.

Romes' recent request for the city to move the Old Schoolhouse is another example that the city needs to reassess the Landmarks Preservation Commission's power to preserve historical buildings, McQuillin said.

"It's a very imperfect ordinance," McQuillin said [at present there is no ordinance] of the commission's power to delay the demolition of historical landmarks for six months ...

McQuillin said. "It would be perfectly legal for council to enact a ... landmarks ordinance," he said. "[Avon] could become a certified local government and apply for federal and state funding to help fund preservation in Avon."

If no one steps forward to relocate the Old Schoolhouse, McQuillin said the city could still prevent demolition of the landmark. "The city could always legally enact a moratorium on demolitions along Detroit Road as long as it isn't just (imposed on only) that particular building," McQuillin said, adding that the city could uphold a moratorium until the city thoroughly assesses its preservation ordinance.

"You can blame the developer or you can blame these chains like Starbucks and Wal-Mart," McQuillin said. "They don't care about beauty. Their buildings are just like billboards. It comes down to the people of Avon. Is this the way you want our city to be?

"It's the perfect example of why the city needs effective preservation legislation. I can't understand why City Council and the mayor don't want to act on that. I can understand why Romes wants to do what he wants to do, which is make pure profit. I hope that this may be the catalyst that could iniate change."

McQuillin didn't fault Romes for considering demolition. "We are allowing him to act that way through our legislation," he said. "My challenge to the people of Avon and the city (officials) of Avon is if you aren't happy with the situation, you have the power to change it."

A suitor for the Old Schoolhouse had not been named at deadline.


NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 3-7-08, by Jason Hawk

``Developer plans to make former Avon schoolhouse history

AVON -- A one-room schoolhouse where generations of Avon students learned reading, writing and 'rithmetic could soon be razed.

Mayor Jim Smith said Thursday that there's nothing he can do to save Avon Center School, 35955 Detroit Road, from demolition.

[The City could make a no-interest loan to move the Avon Center School]

The 1910 building was purchased in October 2005 by Greg Romes, president of Lake Pointe Construction. Romes said he wants to build a strip shopping center on the 10-acre parcel where the school sits and that he'll tear it down in 60 to 90 days ...

Romes sent Avon officials an ultimatum Feb. 22 saying he would tear down the school unless the city agreed by March 5 to pay to relocate it. Smith said after the deadline had passed Thursday that the cost would be about $108,000, and there's no way he can justify spending tax money on private property ...

[What about building a $20 million (+?$) interchange at Nagel Rd. for Jacobs?]

Last spring [2006], officials let him change 12 acres at the intersection of Detroit Road and state Route 83 from residential to commercial. The city has been embroiled in a court fight with Romes over the rest of that land since 2006, when Council denied his request to rezone 28 acres.

The Avon Planning Commission recommended another rezoning Feb. 20 [2008], just two days before Romes sent his letter, that would change another 10 acres of the disputed land that Romes' owns from residential to office use ...

Ron Larson, who owns the Old Avon Village on Detroit Road, said he wants to save Avon Center School, but he doesn't have the cash.

It wouldn't be the first time he's rescued a part of Avon's heritage. So far, Larson has relocated five buildings, including an 1840 barn once owned by original Avon settler George Clifton.

Romes had owned the barn and was going to tear it down, too, Larson said.

Each of those five historical buildings was moved next to the Avon police station and remodeled to house boutique stores and restaurants.

Larson said he struck a deal with Romes in 2007 to move Avon Center School, but Romes told him a few months later that he was going to put a Starbucks coffee shop in the building instead.

So Larson backed off and invested his money in another historical property just down the street called Stone Eagle Farm. It wasn't until last month that Romes told him Starbucks had backed out of the deal and that he was once again looking for someone to take the schoolhouse, he said.

But Larson said his cash is tied up now and he's out of options.

"I don't think I can make it happen. Sixty days is a little too quick," he said. "Everyone talks about historical funding, but in a harsh economy those are the first things that dry up. There doesn't seem to be anyone out there willing to fund that."''

Contact Jason Hawk at jhawk@chroniclet.com.


NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 3-19-08, By Rebecca Turman

``City files lawsuit against Lake Pointe Construction for torn down trees

AVON -- Just weeks after Greg Romes, owner of Lake Pointe Construction, announced that the Old Schoolhouse would be demolished if the historic landmark could not be relocated from its current Detroit Road location, the city of Avon has filed a lawsuit against Lake Pointe Construction and "John Doe." The lawsuit is unrelated to the Old Schoolhouse.

According to the complaint, "On or about April 4, 2007, defendant(s) (Lake Pointe Construction), its agents and employees, without privilege to do so, trespassed upon lands of the Plaintiff (city of Avon) at 2066 Center Road (where the water tower is located) and intentionally and maliciously cut down and destroyed at least 55 trees and other herbaceous vegetation for the purpose of clearing land for a proposed shopping center.

As a direct result of this trespass, the city suffered the loss of numerous trees and herbaceous vegetation for the purpose of clearing the land for a proposed shopping center."

The complaint went on to say that the defendants "recklessly" and "negligently" cut down and destroyed the trees and vegetation, which resulted in a "diminution in the value of the (city) property."

The defendants, John Doe and Lake Pointe Construction, are liable to the city in damages equal to triple worth for the injury caused by the reckless conduct of agents and employees, the complaint said. The city is looking to be "fully and fairly" compensated for the damage done to the property, the complaint said.

When asked why the city is filing now, almost one year after the incident, Avon Law Director John Gasior said, "The statute of limitations is going to run out April 4 [2008]. We had to get an arborist to review the damage. I think it just got to the point where I needed to file before the statute ran out."

The trees that were allegedly torn down by Lake Pointe Construction and John Doe were "just ordinary, normal trees," Gasior said. "I don't think there were any black walnut trees or anything," he said. "The value of the trees came out to be $17,000. That was the amount of damage that our arborist concluded from his examination of the trees that were downed." Allen Shauck, of Edwards Tree Service, said that the trees that were torn down included box elders, maples, elms and evergreens.

The tree values were based on species, size, condition and location, along with what the site is to be used for, Shauck said. "There's a process," he said, regarding value determination. Since the city is seeking triple the amount in damages, Gasior said, "In the one count, we are looking for three times that ($17,000). That would be $51,000."

Gasior explained that the John Doe listed as the defendant is "the party who actually took the trees down." "We won't really know until the discovery process who that is," Gasior said. "Lake Pointe Construction is essentially saying it isn't their fault." ...

Romes explained that he was planning to improve the property near the water tower by "making a park-like setting," and he had provided the city with a plan of that development. "In the park-like setting, we had proposed to replant decorative trees and pine trees for a public sitting area," Romes said. "We cleared out trees on the city property," he said ...

The city of Avon is still currently in litigation with Romes regarding a separate lawsuit that was filed in 2006 by Romes against the city, which pertains to property along SR 83.''

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