NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 10-12-07, by Brad Dicken
``NOACA vote on project for Nagel Road expected
AVON -- Avon officials spent Thursday [10-11-07] negotiating an 11th-hour agreement that could give them the votes they need to win approval for a proposed new interchange off Interstate 90 when it goes before the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency today.
Avon Mayor Jim Smith said he met Thursday afternoon with Cleveland-area officials who have opposed the project ... On Wednesday, Avon officials proposed what they called a final compromise to Cuyahoga County, offering to create a joint economic development zone with Cleveland, Lakewood, Rocky River, Fairview Park, North Olmsted, Bay Village and Westlake that would last for 15 years.
The agreement would give half of the income tax revenue from any company that moved from one of those communities to the area around the new interchange back to the community for five years after the relocation. The only exceptions to the deal would be companies with a payroll of less than $1 million and a 170,000-square-foot medical campus the Cleveland Clinic plans to build in the area. Cleveland-area officials had reportedly wanted the revenue-sharing for each business to last for 10 years instead of five ...
Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough said Thursday that Avon's offer is worth looking at, but he also worried that the interchange will place a strain on existing roads and require upgrades for which Westlake and other nearby cities will pay.
Avon proposed pursuing county, state and federal money to offset those costs, but Clough said he doesn't know if that's possible, adding that any improvements would have to be completed by the time the interchange opened, which could be as early as 2009 if it's approved today.
Clough also complained that tax abatements -- which would be limited by the deal proposed by Avon to 75 percent -- pit neighboring communities against each other. But he said a revenue-sharing plan, like the one proposed by Avon, could be a good way to keep it under control ...
Many Cuyahoga County officials have complained that the interchange -- which would be built with money from Avon and private business -- would encourage urban sprawl and lure business away from Cleveland and other cities. Elyria Mayor Bill Grace has said he opposes the interchange because it will threaten Midway Mall and the city's economic health ...
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NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 10-12-07, by Tom Breckenridge, Plain Dealer Reporter
``Deal on Avon I-90 interchange looks likely
AVON -- Cleveland-area officials say they may be close to striking a tax-sharing deal with Avon that could be a turning point in the way the region grows. The deal would clear the way for a new Interstate 90 interchange in the fast-growing suburb.
Avon would share income tax with Cleveland and its West Shore suburbs if a business should leave those cities in the next 15 years for land near a new Nagel Road interchange in eastern Lorain County.
In exchange, Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and West Shore representatives would vote for the $20 million interchange this morning at a board meeting of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency.
A cross-county deal to lessen the pain of company relocations could be the catalyst for a healthier region, said Brad Whitehead, president of the multicounty Fund for our Economic Future. "The idea that we are linking physical development to the ramifications of economic development is exactly the right conversation to be having," Whitehead said Thursday. "This could be a transitional moment." ...
The 38-member NOACA board decides the fate of projects affecting local interstate highways. Cleveland-area leaders said the project typified the sprawling growth that has pulled business and jobs from the region's core ...
Avon and Cleveland-area officials have been negotiating a tax-sharing deal over the last 10 days. Smith floated a proposal midweek, and officials from the city, county and West Shore suburbs studied it in a meeting Thursday [10-11-07] afternoon at Cleveland City Hall.
Ken Silliman, Mayor Frank Jackson's chief of staff, and Cuyahoga County Administrator Dennis Madden said they were reasonably optimistic of a deal by this morning's vote. Both men declined to discuss details.
In Smith's proposal, Avon would strike an income tax-sharing deal with Cleveland and other communities along an I-90 corridor - Lakewood, Fairview Park, Rocky River, North Olmsted, Bay Village and Westlake.
If a business with a payroll of more than $1 million moves from one of those cities to an "economic development zone" near the Nagel interchange, Avon would split the income tax with the losing city for five years. The tax share would be reduced under Smith's proposal if a new business fills the vacancy in the losing city.
Avon would also agree to limit property tax breaks to 75 percent on businesses moving to Avon from Cleveland and the West Shore suburbs. Cleveland has struck similar deals with a dozen suburbs in Cuyahoga County, in exchange for servicing their water lines ...''
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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 10-13-07, by KATE GIAMMARISE, Morning Journal Writer
``Avon interchange approved
CLEVELAND -- Proponents of the new Avon interchange called the agreement a triumph of regionalism and working together. Opponents said it was a compromise shoved down their throats. Either way, a tentative deal has been struck, allowing a controversial new interchange for I-90 at Nagel Road in Avon to be built.
The governing board of the transit planning organization the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency approved the interchange at a standing-room only meeting yesterday morning [10-12-07] at the group's downtown Cleveland office.
The project isn't a done deal yet, however. The approval is contingent on Avon City Council approving a joint economic development zone agreement within 30 days. The agreement would allow for income tax sharing for five years between Avon and any nearby community which agrees to the JED and has a company relocate from its community to the new interchange area.
The agreement is open to Cleveland, Lakewood, Westlake and other west side suburbs, as well as Lorain, Elyria, Elyria Township, Avon Lake, Sheffield Lake, Sheffield Village, Sheffield Township, and North Ridgeville, and Avon Lake.
The agreement would also limit any tax abatements to 75 percent abatements for 10 years and income tax abatements are not permitted. The agreement would last for 30 years.
Avon Mayor Jim Smith said he's not thrilled about the deal, but he can live with it in order to make the interchange project happen. He anticipates council will approve the plan ...
Similarly, NOACA board member and Avon Lake Mayor Rob Berner said he hated the compromise, but would vote for it because Avon needed the interchange.
A planned Cleveland Clinic health care center that will be built near the site of the planned interchange won't be subject to the revenue sharing agreement, because the Clinic plans to build at the site regardless of the interchange and the new facility would be an expansion, not a relocation of services from another city.
The revenue-sharing agreement was a compromise between Avon and other Lorain County officials who supported the interchange project and Cleveland and Cuyahoga County officials who had opposed it.
Earlier this week, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan and Bay Village Mayor Deborah Sutherland all said they would vote against the interchange unless Avon agreed to share revenues from the site ...
The $19 million interchange will be paid for the city of Avon and private developer the Richard E. Jacobs group, which owns 212 acres near where the proposed exit would be ...
If the deal is approved by Avon council, Smith said there's still more engineering work to be done and the project must be financed through the sale of notes and bonds. He said he hopes the interchange will be built by 2009 or 2010.''
NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 10-13-07, by Brad Dicken
``NOACA board OKs Nagel Road interchange
CLEVELAND -- Avon will get its interchange. Following months of back and forth and questions about what the regional impact of building a new interchange off Interstate 90 will be, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency voted in favor of the proposal Friday. But Avon had to make concessions -- agreeing to create a joint economic development zone around the interchange in order to win the vote ...
In the end, [Mayor Jim] Smith agreed to send half of the income tax money from any business that relocated to the area around the interchange from any of 15 surrounding communities back to the community the company moved from ...
The agreement only impacts companies that have a payroll of more than $750,000. For a company with that size payroll, it would work out to about $5,600 in lost revenue for Avon annually, Smith said. The money would have to be paid for the first five years after a company relocates.
Avon originally had wanted the revenue sharing to start at $1 million and for it to exclude a 170,000-square-foot medical campus the Cleveland Clinic plans to build near the interchange. But under the agreement passed Friday, only the first 500 clinic jobs will be immune to revenue-sharing -- about the number of jobs the new facility is expected to create, Smith said.
The agreement was extended in order to get the interchange approved -- growing from the 15 years that Avon had proposed to 30 years. The agreement also was expanded to include Avon Lake, Elyria, Elyria Township, Lorain, North Ridgeville, Sheffield, Sheffield Lake and Sheffield Township. Smith said Cleveland insisted on the inclusion of Lorain County communities ...
Avon Lake Mayor Rob Berner, a NOACA member, said he has no intention of joining the development agreement and criticized how Cuyahoga County handled the debate ...
But even though the interchange was approved nearly unanimously, it drew fire from supporters, including several members who refused to vote despite favoring the interchange because of the threats used by Cuyahoga County to force the revenue-sharing agreement. Medina County Commissioner Stephen Hambley said he would abstain because he thought Avon was coerced into the agreement and that was not the way a regional planning organization should operate. "We can't do it at the edge of a sword," he said.
Lorain County Commissioner Betty Blair, a longtime NOACA member and supporter who had threatened to lead Lorain County out of NOACA if the interchange wasn't approved, also criticized Cuyahoga County's tactics, describing them as "extortion" and "blackmail." ...
But Cuyahoga County officials said the agreement was necessary to keep communities in Northeast Ohio from "poaching" businesses from each other. Bay Village Mayor Debbie Sutherland, one of those who issued the ultimatum to Avon last week, said it was the only way to get Avon to the table to craft an agreement. But she conceded that the agreement wasn't perfect and said the area needs a regional economic development organization ...
Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones said the revenue-sharing plan is a good one that will serve as a model for future projects, but he understands the concerns of his county's neighbors. "The path to regionalism does have impediments when the interests of different parties collide," Jones said.
Elyria Mayor Bill Grace, who voted in favor of the interchange despite concerns that it could drain Elyria's economy and lead to problems keeping Midway Mall open, said he's not sure if Elyria will benefit from joining the development zone ...''
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NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 10-13-07, by Tom Breckenridge, Plain Dealer Reporter
``Avon agrees to tax-sharing plan to get I-90 interchange
AVON -- Cleveland and communities to the west along Interstate 90 will share taxes around a new Avon interchange, under a deal some hail as a historic step toward regionalism. But officials in outlying counties say the deal feels more like extortion.
After months of bruising debate, a five-county agency voted overwhelmingly Friday to approve a $20 million interchange at Nagel Road in Avon. The vote by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency followed an 11th-hour deal between Cleveland-area elected leaders and Avon Mayor James Smith ...
The agreement is meant to dissuade cities from battling over local businesses and instead "pull for the entire region," said Cleveland Planning Director Bob Brown, chairman of NOACA's board. "This is a historic occasion," Brown said before the vote. Board members from outlying counties approved the deal grudgingly. They said they felt strong-armed by Cleveland and Cuyahoga County's push for a piece of the tax pie.
Lake County Commissioner Dan Troy held his nose while voting for the project. Lorain County Commissioner Betty Blair used the words "extortion," "intimidate" and "hostage" to describe how she felt in supporting the deal.
Medina County Commissioner Stephen Hambley abstained, saying outlying counties now face the prospect of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County looking for a cut of taxes with each transportation project ...
Others argued that a true regional agreement would have communities in all five counties agreeing to share income tax when businesses relocate. Urban sprawl expert Tom Bier agreed. He said, however, that the hot debate was significant - for the first time, elected leaders from multiple counties spoke honestly and openly about tackling problems in the region's core.
Income tax sharing is only a Band-Aid, said Bier, a Cleveland State University professor. The income tax gained by communities that lose business to Avon will be small, he said. Aging cities and suburbs need millions of dollars to redevelop their industrial land, to compete with the greenfields of Avon and other outer-ring suburbs, he said.
That's one reason the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association has asked Bier and CSU to study a property tax sharing system in Minneapolis-St. Paul. A portion of tax from any new commercial or industrial development there is pooled, under a formula that's weighted to send more of the money to struggling communities. "That's why we have constant decline - old places can't cope with the extra cost of producing new and renewed land," Bier said.
In western Cuyahoga County, some officials fear that Nagel, a two-lane road, will quickly congest with the new interchange and cause traffic headaches in nearby suburbs. Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough was disappointed the deal will not supply the money his suburb will need to improve affected roads. Parties to the deal promised to search for money to do road improvements.''
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[Isn't approval from ODOT and the federal government required before construction can proceed?]
NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 10-19-07, by Brad Dicken
``Counties tell NOACA to change
ELYRIA -- ... On Thursday, Medina County Commissioner Stephen Hambley met with the Lorain County commissioners, and they appeared to come to a consensus -- something has to change with NOACA or the two counties will seek to leave the regional planning organization.
"If they don't get rid of that weighted vote, we're out of there," Lorain County Commissioner Lori Kokoski said after the meeting.
The controversial, but rarely used, weighted vote -- which was invoked during the debate over the $19 million interchange -- increases the power of the votes of numerous Cuyahoga County officials, giving the county the ability to effectively make decisions for all five counties that make up NOACA.
Hambley said he fears that Cuyahoga County could try to bully Medina County on future projects as it did to Avon when it threatened to use the weighted vote to crush the interchange if the city didn't consent to a revenue-sharing agreement, a demand Avon eventually relented to ...
Hambley said Lorain and Medina counties have several options, including forming their own planning organizations or joining a similar organization that includes former NOACA members Summit and Portage counties.
Assistant County Prosecutor Gerald Innes, who is researching how Lorain County could leave NOACA, said joining another planning organization would be the easiest way to go. It also could give that organization more power over Cuyahoga County, Kalo said. "We'd control the inroads into Cuyahoga County," he said.
The topic also was before the Cuyahoga County commissioners Thursday [10-18-07], said Hugh Shannon, government services coordination manager in Cuyahoga County.
"There is a broad and deep recognition that things need to change in NOACA," he said, adding the Cuyahoga County commissioners are willing to look at any proposal, including one that would eliminate the weighted vote. "Everything's on the table," Shannon said ...''
Contact Brad Dicken at email@example.com.
NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 10-19-07, by Tom Breckenridge, Plain Dealer Reporter
``CLEVELAND -- The president of the Cuyahoga County commissioners says he's willing to talk about reforms, rather than see a five-county agency splinter in the aftermath of a controversial vote allowing a new Interstate 90 link in Avon.
Lorain and Medina county commissioners say they will leave the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency unless the transportation-planning body adopts changes to how it votes ...
Cleveland-area officials hold 19 votes on the 36-member board. But any board member can call for a vote weighted on population, which gives the Cleveland area 35 of 56 votes, or 63 percent.
"We don't want to be held hostage on sharing taxes," Medina County Commissioner Stephen Hambley told colleagues during a Lorain County commissioners meeting Thursday.
Lorain Commissioner Betty Blair said NOACA's board must agree to eliminate the weighted vote, or she'll urge her county to leave.
Cuyahoga County Commission President Tim Hagan says he's "not wedded" to the weighted vote. He sees potential for a "middle ground" that recognizes Cuyahoga County, with 1.3 million people, holds more than half of the five-county population of 2.1 million.
Hagan said he also agrees with outlying commissioners who don't like that several members of the NOACA board are not elected officials. Cleveland's six votes, for example, include a public service director and city planning director ...
Hagan said he supports tax sharing, though he prefers to see Gov. Ted Strickland and the Ohio legislature tackle it as part of a strategy to bring more revenue to struggling urban cores.
Exactly how Lorain and Medina would leave NOACA is unclear. Assistant county prosecutors in both counties are researching. At a minimum, Gov. Strickland would have to approve, officials said. Transportation officials at the federal and state levels would also have to sign off. NOACA's $6.5 million budget would lose $530,000 if the two counties left, a NOACA official said.
The fight over the interchange illustrates the need for a regional tax-sharing agreement, Hudson Mayor Bill Currin, head of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association, told the group at a meeting Thursday [10-18-07] in Independence.
The mayors have commissioned a study of how sharing a portion of taxes on new development could benefit the region.''
Reporter Tom Ott contributed to this story.
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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 10-19-07, by MATT SUMAN, Morning Journal Writer
``Counties discuss NOACA exit
ELYRIA -- The Lorain County commissioners haven't given up on the idea of leaving the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency after demands made in order to get approval of the Interstate 90 interchange in Avon left a sour taste in their mouth.
After their regular board meeting yesterday, commissioners talked with Medina County Commissioner Stephen Hambley about both counties leaving the metropolitan transportation planning agency if they cannot resolve some issues.
The main issues seems to be weighted voting in which some representatives, mainly from Cuyahoga county, can get more than one vote each. Lorain, Medina, Cuyahoga, Geauga and Lake counties are members of NOACA ...
Hambley mentioned joining the Akron Metro Area Transportation Study (AMATS) to the Lorain County commissioners. That metropolitan planning organization includes Summit and Portage counties and part of Wayne county, he said.
Hugh Shannon, government services coordination manager for the Cuyahoga County commissioners, said they discussed the issue of Lorain and Medina counties threatening to leave NOACA yesterday. The Cuyahoga County commissioners are ready to talk about possible changes to NOACA's weighed vote and other policies. ''They're open to having the discussions,'' Shannon said.
Elyria Mayor Bill Grace, a NOACA board member, said he's also open to talk about NOACA's weighted vote and other rules. But it's not in Lorain County's best interest to leave the organization, he said ...
Cleveland and Cuyahoga County have profound impacts on Lorain County, Grace said. For example, many Avon and Avon Lake residents work in Cleveland or Cuyahoga County.
Avon Mayor Jim Smith, who is not on NOACA's governing board, said he would like to see Lorain County exit NOACA, but wants to look at other options in depth before doing so.
Smith said he would not want to jeopardize another project to improve the SR 57 interchange that NOACA is involved in. Grace said he did not want to speculate on what would happen to the SR 57 interchange if the Lorain County left NOACA.
Shannon said there has been talk of organizing a retreat for NOACA members to ease tensions ...''
NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 11-2-07, by Brad Dicken
``County to NOACA: Fix vote or we quit
ELYRIA -- The county commissioners aren't backing down from their efforts to have a system of voting that strongly favors Cuyahoga County eliminated from the bylaws of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency.
On Thursday [11-1-07], the commissioners sent a letter to NOACA Executive Director Howard Maier in which they asked him to start the process of asking each of the five counties that are members of the transportation planning agency to approve the change.
A majority of each of the boards of commissioners in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Medina counties would have to OK it.
"If not, we'll leave NOACA," Commissioner Ted Kalo said ...
Under NOACA's rules, the votes of NOACA board members from Cuyahoga County can be weighted to give them a virtually undefeatable voting block. That needs to change, according to officials from Lorain County and other smaller participating counties.
Last month, Medina County Commissioner Stephen Hambley met with Lorain County commissioners and agreed to work with them to eliminate the weighted vote.
Hugh Shannon, government services coordinator for Cuyahoga County, said the commissioners there are willing to consider anything that Lorain County puts on the table ...
Maier said the issue will be discussed by NOACA's executive committee at a meeting next week.
The weighted vote was implemented in 1991, he said, to streamline the number of members on the NOACA board and still allow Cuyahoga County to have the voting power that befitted it being the largest population center in the agency's jurisdiction.
He said it took more than a year to hammer out the details of the bylaws that created the weighted voting system, which is used only rarely ...''
Contact Brad Dicken at email@example.com.
NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 11-2-07, by ALEX M. PARKER, Morning Journal Writer
Officials may end ties with NOACA over its 'weighted voting' issue
``ELYRIA -- The Lorain County commissioners renewed their threat yesterday to leave Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency unless it does away with ''weighted voting.''
All three commissioners signed a letter to the NOACA calling for the regional planning body to reform its internal guidelines.
Currently, any member of NOACA, which gives out federal transportation dollars, can call for a ''weighted vote,'' which gives more votes to members from larger counties.
According to its NOACA Executive Director Howard Maier, NOACA doesn't often have contentious votes -- but it has recently been embroiled with controversy over a planned Interstate 90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon ...
Maier said the NOACA board would take up the issue during its board meeting on Nov. 9  ...''
NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 11-10-07, by Brad Dicken
NOACA board discusses vote, agency's future
``CLEVELAND -- If the elected officials from the five counties that make up the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency agree on one thing, it's that they want the transportation planning agency to survive. But if a meeting Friday [11-9-07] was any indication, that's not going to be an easy task. Lorain and Medina counties have threatened to pull out ...
Even Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones admitted that the weighted vote had created a rift among NOACA's members ...
But Valerie McCall, Cleveland's chief of governmental affairs, said after the meeting that Blair and Hambley were doing exactly the thing they had complained about Cuyahoga County doing. Words like blackmail could be applied to the tactics of Lorain and Medina counties, she said.
"What's the difference of saying we're going to pull out if you don't change the weighted vote?" she said.
Lawson Jones also worried that if the weighted vote is eliminated -- something that would take the boards of commissioners from all five counties in NOACA to do -- that Cuyahoga County, which has 62 percent of the region's population, will find itself at the mercy of the other four counties.
A NOACA legal review of the weighted vote, which included an examination of how other metropolitan planning organizations around the country and the state handled population issues, showed that the weighted vote was a rarity.
And even without the weighted vote, Cuyahoga County still has the majority of the votes on NOACA's board.
In the end, NOACA's governing board agreed to allow the executive board to review the question of the weighted vote, who should be on the NOACA board and issues of proportional representation.
Lorain County Commissioner Ted Kalo said the county wants an answer before June , when it has to pay its annual NOACA dues ...''
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 11-10-07, by Tom Breckenridge, Plain Dealer Reporter
Lorain, Medina counties consider leaving NOACA over weighted votes
``The next few months will tell whether a powerful transportation-planning body embraces its regional heritage or takes a divisive step back.
The five-county Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency voted Friday [11-9-07] to try to heal the rift resulting from last month's vote approving a new Interstate 90 link in Avon ...
During a tense meeting Friday of NOACA's executive committee, Cleveland and Cuyahoga County officials said they're willing to negotiate the weighted vote. But any change to voting procedures must recognize that Cuyahoga County "is significantly larger than the other four," said Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones.
On the 38-member board, Cuyahoga County officials account for 19 votes, or 50 percent. The four outlying counties - Lorain, Medina, Geauga and Lake - account for 18 votes, or 47 percent. The Ohio Department of Transportation also has a vote.
But NOACA's rules allow for any member to call for a vote weighted by population, as happened for the Avon interchange vote.
The weighted vote gives Cuyahoga County officials 62 percent of the tallies. (Census estimates show Cuyahoga County holds 62 percent of the five-county population.) ...
A split in NOACA could be a blow to regionalism efforts. The Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association is studying tax-sharing strategies that would help strengthen a struggling Cleveland.
The I-90/Avon debate highlights a need "for our region to accelerate the process of building trust among the region's many governmental bodies," according to a recent joint statement from Rob Briggs, chairman of a regional economic development group, and Hudson Mayor William Currin, chairman of the mayors association.''
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[In the steps of Ignatius Riley, antihero of "A Confederacy of Dunces." has Jacobs managed to destroy NOACA?]
NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 10-30-07, by Stephen Szucs
``AVON -- Avon City Council begrudgingly approved Monday the first resolution required to create a new Interstate 90 interchange.
The resolution outlined the general concept of the joint economic development zone between the initial partners -- Avon and the city of Cleveland. The deal calls for Avon to send half of the income tax money brought in by any business that relocates from Cleveland back to the city for five years after the move.
In the near future, 15 other communities in the region including Avon Lake, Elyria, Elyria Township, Lorain, North Ridgeville, Sheffield, Sheffield Lake and Sheffield Township, as well as others on the west side of Cleveland will vote on whether to join the zone as well, which would mean that they too would be compensated if a business relocates anytime in the next 30 years. The agreement affects only companies that have a payroll of more than $750,000 ...
The interchange was approved Oct. 12,  and Avon City Council had 30 days to approve the joint economic development zone ... The vote Monday [10-29-07] was preliminary; the legal paperwork spelling out the details of the zone won't be completed for a month or more ...''
Contact Stephen Szucs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 10-31-07, by SCOT ALLYN, Morning Journal Writer
``Avon OKs income tax plan for I-90, Nagel Road
AVON -- Avon moved one step closer to an interchange at Interstate 90 and Nagel Road after council unanimously approved an income tax sharing plan from businesses that relocate to the area from neighboring communities.
Council, on Monday [10-29-07], accepted the general outlines of a joint economic development zone [JEDZ] with 15 communities, including Cleveland, Lakewood, Westlake, Avon Lake, Lorain and Elyria. If a business with an annual payroll of $750,000 or more moves to a 791-acre area surrounding the interchange in the next 30 years from one of the participating towns, Avon will share half of the income taxes it collects from the business for five years with the town it left.
The JEDZ was in response to pressure by Cuyahoga County-based representatives on the governing board of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency. The planning body must grant approval for improvements to interstate highways in Lorain, Cuyahoga, Medina, Lake and Geauga counties.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Bay Village Mayor Deborah Sutherland and Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan signed a pledge to vote against the Nagel Road project unless Avon agreed to share tax revenues ...
The Ohio Department of Transportation will build the interchange ... using about $19 million from the city and the Richard E. Jacobs Group, a Cleveland-based developer that owns 212 acres near the site. [Tax Increment Financing will be used with Avon responsible for paying off the bonds.]
Although The Cleveland Clinic has announced plans to build a 170,000-square-foot healthcare center at Nagel Road and I-90, Avon will not have to share income taxes on the clinic's first 500 jobs. The clinic was exempted because it said it would build the healthcare center even if the Nagel Road interchange was defeated and the new facility is an expansion rather than a relocation.''
LETTER to The Editor of The Plain Dealer, 11-11-07, by Joseph W. Kunzelman
``Who will stand up to preserve more land?
In response to the Oct. 17 [2007 PD] article "Farming done here from now, forever":
Thank you, Jarvis Babcock and family, for the generous, unselfish gift of 1,018 acres that surely would have been destroyed by developers.
I live in Avon. We have seen judges and city administrators allow aggressive developers to carve our city up like a big, fat turkey: "Ah, more retail. This will solve all our problems." These self-centered, power-hungry individuals and companies have destroyed acre after acre of woods and trees while driving our last little bit of wildlife up on to Interstate 90 to be slaughtered.
Did anyone really think that the I-90/[Nagel] Road interchange was not going to happen? Does anyone honestly believe that this will not continue to open the door for more businesses and residents to leave Cleveland, Lorain and the inner-ring suburbs?
Unfortunately, nobody has the guts or the money to stop this travesty.
Where are the Babcocks of Avon and the rest of Northeast Ohio?''
Joseph W. Kunzelman, Avon
NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 11-3-07, by Joan Mazzolini, Plain Dealer Reporter
``Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals compete with their expanding medical centers
Cleveland's two huge hospital systems are in a competitive game of leapfrog, hopping from one suburb to the next in pursuit of the well-insured patients ...
But it's an expensive endeavor to chase patients, or try to poach them from other hospital systems.
And the recent moves have the two Cleveland systems butting up against other hospital systems in Summit and Lorain counties that don't seem that pleased by the closeness.
"There are four hospitals that are in Lorain County and none operating at capacity," said Jim Simone, vice president of finance for EMH Regional Health Care System. The Elyria hospital will be celebrating its 100th anniversary next year.
Simone said the Clinic's plans for a new big medical facility in Avon will "make it difficult for all of us to survive."
"There's not a need for it," Simone said. "We don't need more facilities. There's only so many chest X-rays you can do, even if you put X-ray machines on every corner." ...''
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NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 12-25-07, by Michael Scott, Plain Dealer Reporter
``AVON -- As development spreads, bad air follows, critics say Smog sprawl - it could be coming soon to a suburb near you.
Smog sprawl is the environmental notion that air pollution trails after residential and industrial development as it surges out from the city center to once-rural suburbia and beyond.
In other words, as we move out to the country, we drive longer and farther to get to work, we pump out more pollutants along the way and foul up the fresh air we drove out there for in the first place.
Planners and policymakers nationwide, reacting to changes called for to slow a warming climate, are hotly debating whether the relentless outward spread of population necessarily translates into increased air pollution.
It's already a critical issue in California, where that state's unique voter mandate calls for a rollback of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. California Attorney General Jerry Brown has asked cities to analyze how development affects climate change.
But the green wave doesn't always roll one direction: Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency blocked an effort by California and 16 other states to severely limit greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks.
That sets up a legal and political battle over how much sway states will have in limiting auto emissions as a way to fight global warming.
Meanwhile, Northeast Ohio has its own specific air pollution concerns.
The region is already under federal mandate to reduce air pollution -- both ozone and particulates -- by 2009, putting virtually every transportation or commercial/industrial development decision under an increasingly detailed environmental microscope.
But there's not always a clear-cut answer when balancing the transportation needs of one growing community with the broader concerns of the region.
That's why planners have to consider, for example, whether the privately funded and fast-tracked interchange to be built in Avon will add to air pollution in that Lorain County suburb -- and the entire region.
Critics are certain that it will.
"This is a community where they're putting in a new interchange and where they're planning low-density, automobile-dependent land use," said David Beach, director of the Center for Regional Sustainability of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. "That's hardly a sustainable approach in an age of climate change and scarcity of energy resources." ...
The city's population surged from about 7,000 to more than 17,000 in just more than a decade. Further, it ranked as the 67th-fastest growing community in the nation from 2000-07, Mayor James Smith said.
The community already has two I-90 exits: Ohio 611 on the western end and Ohio 83 near the center ... The town center still has old-school businesses like Buck Hardware lining Detroit Avenue, but also boasts a Home Depot and its own 100-acre Avon Commons shopping center. ...
Whether that absence of federal money for the construction of the interchange also means that the project doesn't have to meet certain stringent federal environmental guidelines is debatable.
[Mayor Jim] Smith ... said the city is meeting every environmental requirement in the planning and building of the highway interchange ...
ODOT spokesman Brian Stacy said a Columbus-area firm is already doing a detailed environmental assessment and should be finished by this time next year [12-08]. The study will look at the impact of the interchange on the surrounding ecosystem, including water, plants and animals and air.
"NOACA has performed some air quality assessments, but the bulk of the environmental work will go on in the next year on the Avon project," Stacy said.
Existing environmental documents, some posted on the NOACA Web site (noaca.org), reveal only that:
Fine, Beach said, but planners need to look beyond the impact of the interchange only. In a comprehensive review of dozens of studies, published by the Urban Land Institute, the researchers conclude that urban development is ... a key contributor to climate change ...
And Beach and others like planners at the National Center for Smart Growth contend that continually building out toward the suburbs not only contributes more to air pollution, but also to water pollution, noise pollution and even light pollution.
"The interchange itself will have fairly small environmental impact as it's going to be built on already disturbed land," Beach said. "But there is a cumulative impact to what will follow a new interchange."
Pam Davis, a senior environmental planner at NOACA, agreed in saying that how the land in Avon is developed in the future will determine more of the environmental impact on the community than the interchange itself.
"Land use is a crucial issue because it's what follows the arrival of the interstate exit," she said. "Things change when the interstate comes to town."''
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Commentator 1 wrote:
``Methanol and oil from algae are probably our way out of the Kazakh War of 2020, just a little more than 12 years from now. The greed of the owners of oil wells, if we don't do something about it, will plunge us into a destruction that will make the sub-prime crisis look like a Sunday-school picnic. Also, push now for commuter rail so we have so way to get around when the Straits of Hormuz are blocked and every pipeline in the Middle East is blown up.''
[For more, see "Crossing the Rubicon" by Michael C. Ruppert
On the web see www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/index.shtml]
NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 1-26-08, by Joan Mazzolini, Plain Dealer Reporter
``Clinic loses battle with Beachwood schools for records in tax case
Records must be given to Beachwood schools
The Cleveland Clinic must turn over financial information that the Beachwood Board of Education requested to make its case that the hospital's Cedar Road facility should not be exempted from property taxes, the Board of Tax Appeals ruled yesterday.
The appeals board did order that financial documents the hospital provides during the discovery period cannot be released to the public or media.
But the order also noted that that does not mean the tax board would block public access to the information if it is admitted into evidence or brought up during a hearing.
The board's decision should move forward a case that has languished for two years, after the Clinic appealed the Ohio tax commissioner's decision that the property is taxable.
The commissioner ruled that the Clinic's Cedar Road facility was an office building for physicians where little if any charitable care is provided and that it is not eligible for a property tax exemption.
The Beachwood schools had challenged the Clinic's request for property tax exemption. Ohio law allows school districts, which receive the bulk of property taxes, to challenge exemptions.
Districts with large Clinic facilities, such as Independence, Willoughby- Eastlake and Solon, have followed Beachwood's lead. The outcome of the Beachwood case will affect their challenges ...
Beachwood schools lawyers want to know what Clinic doctors and executives are paid. They also want financial statements and financial or other arrangements with outside companies, joint ventures and insurance companies. Also requested is information on hospital pricing and spending on marketing and lobbying campaigns.
The Clinic argued that the requests were a "fishing expedition."
But the board ruled that Beachwood's requests were allowable to find out whether the Cleveland Clinic Foundation "is a charitable institution and whether its property is used exclusively for charitable purposes." ...''
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More Documents Relating to the June 8, 1998, Decision Against Avon
Newspaper Record of XXXXX/Jacobs in Avon