1-1-00 Welcome! 2000
1-5-00 Recycling and Ball Fields
1-19-00 Red Flags over Red Tail
1-21-00 Chester Road Rezoning?
1-29-00 French Creek Fish KIll
2-15-00 The Red Tail Tunnel
2-16-00 Chester Rd. apartments hit snag
2-26-00 Ruling denies BP Avon site
COLUMN from THE PLAIN DEALER, Sunday, January 2, 2000, by BETH BARBER
"It was only a snow shovel, a petty pilferage. Or was it?
You could at least have shoveled the walk, you thief who heisted my new snow shovel from behind the fig vine on the side of the house ...
Everybody else in the neighborhood puts only their trash bags on the tree lawn, never flowers; alas, my neighbors warned me the mums would disappear in the dark of night. In fact, pot and all disappeared in broad daylight, in one brazen swoop.
Some of my neighbors have given up policing for litter daily. They pick up only on garbage day.
On the plus side, I have to say that I've heard gunfire only once ...
I'm a newcomer to Ohio City, you see, but not to the trivial travails of city life. But I'm no apologist, either, for people who consider themselves entitled to others' belongings. So I called the Cleveland Police Department to ask whether I should file a report of this petty pilferage ...
The answer was yes ...
So I will. It won't stop petty thieves or cure casual theft. It shouldn't stop police from pursuing more serious crime. But my block may become safer, shovel by shovel, mum by mum, from the irritants that can swell if ignored into muggings, fortress mode and exodus ..."
LETTER to THE EDITOR of the CLEVELAND FREE TIMES, 11-25-99, by Jake Daab, Cleveland
"Enough of the crying about "urban sprawl" ("Slumming in Solon," 11-17-99) It seems to me like the growth of Solon amounts to nothing more than a wildly successful suburb. I am a degreed urban planner and a career real estate developer. All that is happening in northern Ohio, or any other urban area, is just plain growth. That's all.
I've heard a David Beach/EcoCity Cleveland lecture. I've read the Sierra Club literature on "smart growth." Once you get past the manipulated statistics, the nasty sounding words and phrases, and the out-and-out lies and fabrication, you realize there really isn't an "urban sprawl" problem at all.
Urban sprawl can best be defined as "the suburb beyond mine," or "any family that moves in after I do." As for the lady in Solon who has lived there her entire life and is angry at the new residents; it's OK for her to choose to live there, but not anyone else? Rather reeks of elitism, don't you think?
The EcoCity Cleveland philosophy, and the majority of "smart growth" teachings don't stand up to even the most minimal of intellectual and/or philosophical scrutiny. It seems that it should be a journalist's job to check facts instead of blindly following the moronic smart-growth gurus. Ride that cause du jour gravy train for as long as you can, David Beach. I'll debate you anytime."
Jake Daab, Cleveland
LETTER to THE EDITOR of the CLEVELAND FREE TIMES, 12-2-99, by Dave Latta, Cleveland
On the fence
"I have enjoyed reading [Amy Sparks'] articles in the Free Times for years. [Her] perspective on various urban experiences is always interesting and relatable.
"Picketing Fences" (11-17-99) is one subject that I relate to strongly. I am writing to share a somewhat different viewpoint. I believe that in the city of Cleveland, fences do not cage us in like something precious that we're not. Instead, they protect us from the destructive scum that we are.
I grew up in a suburb where there was no need for fences. I moved to the city (the near West Side) and bought a century house that was one of the few on the street with no fence. I began renovating it, starting with high priority items like electrical, plumbing, etc., but did not install a fence until the third year. During that time, the following things happened to my property:
Dave Latta, Cleveland
LETTER TO THE EDITOR of the CLEVELAND FREE TIMES, By Jim Arcaro, 12-30-99
Off the mark
"In response to Lisa Chamberlain's editorial ("Giant Sucking Sound," December 15) ...
... the flight to the suburbs is no longer about the state of the Cleveland public schools for the last 20 years (read bussing), when parents had no idea when their kids would be picked up, where they would be dropped off and when they might return home.
The flight to the suburbs is about a sense of community with a bit of solitude. With work pressures, nuts in traffic, rude neighbors and people stacked on top of other people in the city, it's going to be nice just to go out and cut the grass in peace and quiet in that oversize yard I am now looking for."
LETTER TO THE EDITOR of the CLEVELAND FREE TIMES, 1-13-00, By Michael Kurtz
This is in regard to the article entitled "Miseducation" (December 22). I take exception to the fact that supporters of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights school district blame racism for the fact that people are leaving the school district. The problem is much deeper than the racial makeup of the district.
As an alumnus of Cleveland Heights High, I decided to take my family to the homecoming football game this year. At halftime, when the king and queen candidates came onto the field, they were all dressed in loose fitting jeans and sweatshirts.
The boys left the girls and started running toward the bleachers, yelling and making what I can only assume were gang hand signals to the crowd. Throughout the game, one fight after another broke out in the Heights stands.
If school officials were alarmed or overly upset about this, it didn't show. None of the students involved in the fighting were escorted out of the event.
You can argue that this was an isolated incident, but I venture to say you'd be lying to yourself ..."
Michael Kurtz, University Heights
EDITORIAL from The MORNING JOURNAL, 1-1-00
"New year renews the promise here
The headlines a few days ago said the nation is at a peak of consumer confidence. It hasn't been this good since 1968, 32 years ago, when Lyndon Johnson was president and America was enjoying the benefits of his 'Great Society' spending.
Call it optimism, a glass-is-half-full view, but we think there's good reason to be just as confident of the future around here. Most jobs are secure, business is good and growing and many communities are seeing a surge in population growth.
As we begin the year numbered 2000, consider the area's record of progress:
NEWS ARTICLE from THE PLAIN DEALER, Wednesday, January 5, 2000, By RICH EXNER, PLAIN DEALER REPORTER
"Avon may get bridge, fields
AVON - A deal in the works could give Avon a bridge and two ball fields in exchange for allowing a company to pile grass, leaves and brush on city property for 25 to 30 years.
Avon Mayor James A. Smith said he was about 90 percent confident that an agreement would be worked out with Kurtz Brothers Inc. of Independence. The company would use the site as a commercial composting facility.
Kurtz Brothers would pay $300,000 to $500,000 to build a bridge to access a 44-acre parcel of city property near Ohio 611 and Interstate 90, Smith said. Kurtz Brothers also would build two baseball fields somewhere in the city and permit Avon to dump a set amount of yard waste at the site at no charge.
In exchange, Smith said, Kurtz Brothers would lease about 20 of the 44 acres from the city for 25 to 30 years at no charge ...
In Avon, Browning Ferris Industries handles all garbage collections, including yard waste.
Smith said that if the agreement was reached with Kurtz Brothers, the city might expand such collections.
Council President Shaun Brady said the deal would be good for the city, even if Avon did not use the site for several years.
"Recycling is such a basic environmental issue that every community should be committed to it," Brady said.''
NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, Wed, Jan 19, 2000, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer
"Red flags fly over troubles with Red Tail
AVON -- City officials in Avon raised numerous red flags about the Red Tail subdivision last night [1-18-00]. Some City Council members suggested that council delay approval of future development until problems are corrected in the existing part of the development.
Red Tail is the largest development in Avon. Under construction for two years and still only about half finished, it will eventually span 400 acres east and west of Nagel Road.
Along with posh new homes, Red Tail includes a world championship-caliber golf course, with nine holes on each side of the road.
Carnegie Management and Development is awaiting City Council's approval of the 'subdivider's agreement' for Red Tail's fifth phase, the first including homes on the west side of Nagel Road.
That approval may be delayed until Carnegie makes good on promises to Avon, some council members said last night. Developers had promised to cover ditches along the roadside and add bicycle trails, neither of which have been done, said Council President Shaun Brady.
But the biggest sticking point for many members was the tunnel planned to allow golf-carts safe passage under busy Nagel Road.
The project was supposed to be completed last fall, but course managers instead presented an alternate plan for a 'golf cart crosswalk' in October.
Planning Commission rejected the change, noting that the special permit to allow a clubhouse in the midst of homes required the tunnel's construction.
With golf season only a few months away, Avon hasn't seen any progress. Some officials are concerned. Others expressed anger.
'This is an accident waiting to happen and everyone knows it,' Brady said. 'Somebody's going to get pegged.'
While Carnegie must put in the tunnel before opening the clubhouse, Law Director Dan Stringer worried that if they stall on the clubhouse, golf carts would keep using the road.
Stringer suggested looking into a law preventing golf carts from crossing Avon's main streets.
Mayor Jim Smith disagreed.
'If they stop putting up the clubhouse, they'll have lawsuits piling up like cordwood,' Smith said. 'They've already got some unhappy people over there.' ...
Following about 15 minutes of council discussion last night, company official Pete Restivo arrived with attorney Russ McLaughlin.
Restivo has been indicted by the Lorain County grand jury on one count of bribery. The criminal charge relates to the purchase of equipment from Krystowski Tractor Sales in Wellington, which is owned by former Avon City Council president Edward Krystowski.
On April 14, 1997, Krystowski cast the swing vote that allowed Red Tail to go forward, according to council minutes. Just four days later, Carnegie bought $60,000 worth of equipment from his tractor store, according to a state auditor's report.
Charges against Restivo and Krystowski are still pending in Lorain County Common Pleas Court.
After Restivo and McLaughlin were briefed on council's concerns last night, McLaughlin said that as soon as Planning Commission approves the club house, construction will start on that and the tunnel.
Council was not convinced.
'Why wasn't it done before the course even opened?' asked Ward 2 Councilman David Kaiser. 'You've had a year to get it done. We're looking for a specific date.'
Police Chief John Vilagi suggested that Carnegie agree to start the tunnel on the same day they open the golf course in the spring.
Because tunnel construction will re-route Nagel Road for 30 to 60 days, the carts won't be a safety problem during that time, Vilagi said.
However, Avon Service Director Jerry Plas was surprised by the talk of re-routing Nagel Road.
'This is the first I've heard of this,' Plas said. 'I'd certainly like to get involved.'
Carnegie would agree to the terms proposed by the police chief if Avon schools had no objections, McLaughlin said. The developer had planned to wait for the summer in an effort to avoid school bus problems, he said.
No formal agreement was reached last night, and council is to consider the fifth phase again next week.
Brady suggested that other council members talk to Stringer about the legality of tying their vote to a written agreement from Carnegie, agreeing to get the tunnel under way quickly."
NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, Wed, Jan 21, 2000, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer
"Developer has hopes for Avon
AVON -- The same developer who brought A.J. Rose to Avon wants to bring other businesses, possibly a car dealership or a hotel, to a 25-acre site just across the street from the manufacturing plant on Chester Road.
Paul Pustay, president of Vermilion-based Consultex Management, has written a letter to City Council requesting a zoning change for land at the southeast corner of Chester and Moore roads, currently used as a vineyard.
Pustay's letter requests a change from multi-family zoning to a business designation that would allow offices, a new car dealership or a hotel.
Pustay did not return calls for comment yesterday.
The letter claims the developer has no definite plans for the site, only a desire to eliminate residential zoning in an area becoming increasingly industrial.
The change would require a recommendation from Planning Commission and then a vote from City Council.
Mayor Jim Smith said he supports Pustay's proposal.
'In my opinion, I'd like to see anything there but apartments,' he said.
Because of its location north of I-90, Smith believes the property should be used to generate taxes rather than more residents.
One factor that would change his mind would be dissatisfaction from the site's neighbors on Chester Road, Smith said.
'It's their neighborhood,' he said. 'I would go along with them.' ...
As for A.J. Rose, the family-owned company has produced automotive parts on its 47-acre site since 1994. While the company is recognized today as an excellent corporate citizen, neighbors weren't always so pleased ...
Ward 2 Councilman David Kaiser, who represents the area, said he was unsure how his constituents would react to Pustay's proposal."
CHEERS & JEERS from THE PLAIN DEALER, 1-21-00
"JEERS ... to Ken Demsey, whose hunches about Indian artifacts keep holding up construction projects in Northern Ohio. The self-proclaimed expert complains that the professionals' search methods miss lots of valuable objects, but he admits he doesn't have any better ideas. His credibility is so low, he has to get other people to sign letters he writes to get sites investigated. He really ought to find another hobby."
NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, Jan 29, 2000, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer
"Ammonia blamed in big fish kill
SHEFFIELD VILLAGE -- Thousands of fish died in a section of the French Creek this week in what a local Ohio Division of Wildlife official called the largest kill he has seen since being assigned to the area in 1993. [The area affected began just below the outfall area for the French Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant on Abbe Rd.]
Neighbors spotted the floating mass of fish Sunday [1-23-00] between James Day Park and the French Creak Wastewater Treatment Plant on Abbe Road. Lorain County Wildlife Officer Dave Shinko inspected the scene Monday.
Tests on the creek, which flows swiftly from the area of SR 611 into the Black River, revealed unusually high concentrations of ammonia, Shinko said. The source of the ammonia has not been identified.
While not technically classified as a hazardous material, ammonia is a nitrogen compound that is highly toxic to aquatic organisms, said aquatic biologist Paul Anderson of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
Often found in untreated sewage, ammonia interferes with oxygen intake and poisons fish systems, Anderson said.
'I saw thousands and thousands of them,' said Old Colorado Road resident Stan Pliszka, who has lived in the area for 45 years. 'I was going to take a walk when I saw the seagulls in big swarms -- flocking around the fish and eating 'em as fast as they could.'
The actions of the seagulls were most frightening, Pliszka said. After eating fish, many flew into trees, hitting branches and generally appearing disoriented.
When Shinko arrived Monday, much of the creek had frozen and seagulls had devoured many fish. It was hard to pin down the ammonia's origin because of the passage of time, although concentrations showed up for two miles down the stream, Shinko said ...
Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and rock bass, as well as steelhead trout and five or six different minnow species, were all dead, Shinko said.
'The fish that died were hardy,' he said. 'They would not have been affected by a temperature change.'
Neighbors had previously reported dead fish in July. A survey of that scene revealed a total value of dead fish under $50, the standard for launching an investigation, Shinko said.
This time, the wildlife officer noted dead game fish as large as 13 pounds.
'Once I saw that, I knew we were over $50,' he said. 'I didn't even bother to count.'
Monday's information went to the Division of Wildlife's Akron office for review, Shinko said. The next step is an EPA review ...
The area affected began just below the outfall area for the French Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant on Abbe Road, Shinko said.
The plant, operated by the city of North Ridgeville, treats sewage for residents of Avon, Sheffield Village and North Ridgeville and empties into the French Creek.
The main source of ammonia in surface water is generally untreated sewage or, occasionally, fertilizer run-off, Anderson said ..."
NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 2-15-00, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer
"AVON -- The golf course clubhouse for Red Tail, the city's largest housing subdivision, will be smaller than originally planned, the developer's attorney informed Avon City Council last night ...
Details about the new clubhouse were not available last night. Tom Smith, an attorney representing Senior Tour Players, said only that it would be a 'scaled back' version.
Plans previously approved showed two floors, 20,000 square feet, a restaurant, pool and other recreational options ...
For nearly a month, City Council has discussed a resolution to stop clubhouse construction until developers finish a 'golf cart tunnel' under busy Nagel Road.
The tunnel is supposed to provide safe crossing for golfers under the road that splits the golf course. Developers received approval for a tunnel design in the fall, but there has been no progress since -- a point that has angered some members of council ...
On Wednesday, Planning Commission will consider a revised tunnel plan, as well as a concept plan for the scaled-back clubhouse.
The developer intends to construct the tunnel as soon as weather permits, attorney Smith said ..."
NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 2-17-00, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer
"AVON -- Red Tail golf community developers submitted plans for the third time and finally received unanimous [Planning Commission] approval last night to build a golf cart tunnel under Nagel Road.
The tunnel will allow safe crossing for golf carts from the first half of the Red Tail course east of Nagel Road to the second half, west of Nagel, city officials said ...
Construction of the tunnel, expected to close Nagel Road for about 30 days, should begin April 1, Abrams said.
Originally dubbed the 'Red Tail Roller Coaster' by City Engineer Gar Downing, previous plans showed the tunnel raising the road into a hump.
The new tunnel will be much less noticeable, planners agreed.
'The Red Tail bump is gone,' said Planning Commission Chairman Jim Piazza.
'There's still a little pimple there,' Downing noted.
'Pimples are all right,' Piazza said.
The commission approved the plans if the developers could obtain approval from the Lorain County Rural Water Authority, which owns the water line beneath Nagel Road that made the hump necessary.
City Council will likely look at the plans at its Monday work session, said Council Representative Tom Wearsch.
Senior Tour Players did not bring expected plans for a scaled-back version of the Red Tail Clubhouse. Until new plans are approved, the previous design remains operative for a two-floor, 20,000-square-foot building with a restaurant, pool and other recreational options, according to Piazza.
In other action last night, the commission rejected a concept plan for a 13-acre development off Case Road, across from the Camelot subdivision. Officials indicated several problems with the plans, all focusing on the road.
With 24 cluster homes, it is twice as long as permitted for a cul-de-sac. The development needs a north-south intersection, Piazza said.
Wearsch also objected to the green space 'tucked away' from view.
'The idea is to put those areas where you can see it and it's usable,' he said. 'I'd rather see more of that open space in the front of the development, personally.' "
NEWS ARTICLE from THE SUN, Feb. 24, 2000, By DON LADWIG, Staff Writer
"Townhouse proposal hits snag
AVON -- Despite receiving final site plan approval from the Planning Commission, the developer of 256 townhouses on Chester Road may have hit a roadblock with the property's landowner, threatening the project.
Sheldon Burns, attorney for Cincinnati-based Brisben Timber Lakes Apartment Ltd., admitted to City Council on Monday night that a written agreement with the landowner expired on Jan. 21.
However, Burns said the agreement was extended verbally.
Council must approve a developer's agreement before the townhouse project can proceed, and will not do so unless Brisben shows proof of ownership of the land ...
The apartments are restricted to low-to moderate-income renters. Brisben received special state financing for the project, which allows the company to borrow $12 million at an interest rate less than that offered by a commercial bank. The project is expected to cost $22 million.
The townhouses would be built in two-and three-bedroom designs. Renters would sign six-month leases. A two-bedroom townhouse with about 1,100 square feet would rent for about $630 a month; it would be about $735 a month for a 1,300-square-foot, three-bedroom apartment.
To qualify, a family renting a two-bedroom apartment could make no more than $28,000 a year, $33,000 a year for a three bedroom townhouse. The buildings would have brick facades."
NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 2-26-00, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer
"Ruling denies BP Avon site
AVON -- BP Amoco cannot build a gas station at SR 83 and Detroit Road, according to a recent ruling from Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Lynett McGough that refused to overturn the city's 1998 decision.
The intersection, the 'gateway to Avon,' is zoned for small shops and offices. In September 1998, council unanimously refused to rezone the southwest corner to allow a BP gas station.
Charging the vote was unconstitutional, BP filed suit soon after.
In the recent ruling, McGough upheld council's decision, saying its actions were reasonable and considered the town's public health, safety and general welfare.
Neither BP's attorneys nor Avon Law Director Dan Stringer returned calls for comment yesterday.
Avon's victory is significant, said City Council President Shaun Brady.
'This reinforces our right to home rule,' Brady said. 'We have the right to set our own zoning, and the courts see that.'
Ward 4 Councilman Jack Kilroy, an outspoken critic of BP, agreed.
'This is a victory for small communities,' he said. 'We can set standards, and big companies can't just come in an impose their will.'
The site is part of Avon's French Creek District. In that area along Detroit, city planners use stricter zoning regulations to create a historic feel.
'The decision supports our commitment to rejuvenate that area,' Brady said. 'It will take time, but with good land use decisions and stricter architectural codes, we plan to create a district that's aesthetically pleasing.'
Not everyone in Avon was thrilled with the decision, however.
Planning Commission cast a vote in support of the project prior to council's vote. Even after McGough's ruling, Planning Chairman Jim Piazza said he supported the site as good for a gas station.
BP had proposed a brick building with extensive landscaping to fit the district's character, Piazza said.
With construction of the 85-acre Avon Commons shopping center less than a mile west on Detroit Road, the area is changing. The demand for a local gas station has grown, Piazza said.
'People don't want to cross I-90 to get gas,' he said. 'If a gas station is done properly, it's a good use of that land.' ..."