Avon Growth News, 11-19-99 to 11-30-99

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11-18-99 Apartment project financing approved
11-21-99 Low-income Housing
11-24-99 It's like bussing students
11-25-99 More on sprawl
11-29-99 Starting today, hunting restrictions

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 11-18-99, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer

"Apartment project financing approved

AVON -- State agencies have approved $12 million in tax-free bonds to finance the construction of a Chester Road apartment complex, according to company officials who plan to build the controversial apartments

Brisben Companies, a Cincinnati-based developer, submitted plans for 256 apartment units located on the north and south sides of Chester Road just east of Moore Road.

In exchange for tax-free revenue bonds from a state agency, Brisben agreed to reserve the apartments for families at or below 50 percent of Lorain County's median gross income.

Neighbors voiced concern about property values and city officials stressed traffic objections at a state-sponsored public hearing last week, hoping to convince the state to deny the project the needed financing.

But Brisben representatives said last night the project has been approved.

Appearing before Planning Commission [11-16-99] with an informal presentation, Brisben officials admitted they still have only the roughest plans to show the city ...

The apartments will be two stories with a brick facade, with units rented on six-month leases, Lomas said ...

After the brief presentation, a host of Chester Road residents and Ward 2 Councilman David Kaiser followed the officials into the foyer, criticizing the plans ...

The complex, located on 7.5 acres south of Chester and 18.5 acres to the north, will be built at a total cost of about $23 million, Lomas told The Morning Journal.

Two bedroom units will be 1,100 square feet and rent for $630, Lomas said. Three bedroom apartments will be 1,300 square feet and rent for $735 a month.

The two bedroom apartments will be reserved for families making less than $28,000 per year, with the three bedroom apartments reserved for those making less than $33,000 per year, Lomas said.

In addition to the townhouses, the complex will include a pool, recreation area and computer room, Lomas said.

Brisben hopes to get quick approval from the city and begin construction as soon as possible in the spring, Lomas said."

THE PRESS, 11-17-99, By Bud Henderson

"Avon natives fighting losing battles

The good people of Avon, Ohio aren't really that hard to please ...

They don't want another City of Euclid, that once-proud ethnic community that has been turned into the low-income capital of the world in the past 30 years or so ...

Now they're fighting big brother in Columbus, with a developer asking the state for no-interest bonds to fund the project ...

The zoning is correct, and if the developer meets stringent city codes, there really isn't anything they can do about it.

But they're looking at the future.

With these "low cost" apartments renting for up to $750 a month, they know what's down the road.

It's called Section 8.

Subsidized housing.

If you are a "low-income" family, how do you afford $750 a month rent?

Simple. You apply for Section 8 and Big Brother will pick up the tab.

And if those residents aren't paying their own way, what is their motivation to take care of the property.

And where are all these 250-plus low income families coming from?

Another simple answer.

Cleveland. Or Lorain.

Avon residents know that there are not nearly 250 low-income families in the city.

As one resident put it, "It'll be like forced bussing in the schools."

It's a Catch-22 for the long-suffering natives of Avon.

Progress is here, and it's unstoppable. They hear their leaders talking about "managing growth." But they don't see that happening.

Yes, the city has very stringent qualifications for builders and developers.

But that doesn't make [some] Center Rd. residents any happier when they look out their windows and see a giant shopping center. Even a very nice shopping center.

And Dick Jacobs has plans for an even bigger shopping center ..."

THE PRESS, 11-17-99, By Bud Henderson

"Residents rip apartment proposal

" ... Round one featured Ward 2 Councilman David Kaiser going up against a very well-prepared Rita Parise, representing the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.

After reading a letter from two residents of the Chester Rd. area outlining problems with the proposed 265-apartment complex, Kaiser and Parise went head-to-head.

Kaiser questioned everything from property values to safety, and Parisi had answers for everything ...

Developer Paul Pustay, representing the A.J. Rose plant adjacent to the proposed apartments on Chester Rd., questioned the location, since Rose owns the adjacent land and is expected to expand in that direction ...

Donald Paxton, representing Brisben, said in exchange for the state financing help, 100 percent of the apartments will be reserved for families with incomes at or below 60 percent of Avons median income.

Residents asked tough questions, including where the new tenants would come from, how the city would handle the increased traffic flow, and why families with children would want to live next door to a stamping plant ...

Paxton said, while communities "try to keep these apartments out with stringent housing regulations, in reality there is a need for these apartments."

Chester Rd. resident Jim Kopp told the audience he planned to try again to have the area rezoned from R-3 to R-1. The R-3 designation is for multiple family dwellings.

"We'll take a hit on the property values, but it will be worth it," he said ..."

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NEWS ARTICLE from the AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, Sunday, November 21, 1999, BY CHERYL POWELL, Beacon Journal staff writer

"Complex finds home in Falls

Whether residents like it or not, low-income housing is coming. City with similar project couldn't be happier

SHEFFIELD TWP.: When it came to Carol Van Dyke's old two-bedroom apartment, three was definitely a crowd.

The divorced mother of two wanted a bigger -- but affordable -- place in which to raise her teen-age girls.

Then Sheffield Meadows opened two years ago in Lorain County's Sheffield Township.

Now the 37-year-old Lorain native pays $488 per month for a three-bedroom apartment, all utilities included.

It's an amount she can comfortably swing on the $23,000 she earns annually as a caregiver for the mentally disabled.

``I like it here,'' she said. ``I haven't had any problems at all. I can save money.''

Buckeye Community Hope Foundation is hoping to serve others like the Van Dykes in Summit County when the nonprofit agency's controversial Pleasant Meadows apartments open in Cuyahoga Falls next year.

After years of legal battles, Buckeye began work last month on a similar, 72-unit apartment complex in the Falls.

``We basically want to have a nice, safe place for people to live,'' said Steve Boone, president of the Columbus-based group. ``You have a right to a nice, clean place you can call your own.''

The first moving of dirt in the Falls marked a major victory for Buckeye, which fought for two years with the city to build the $4.9 million, low-income housing project.

After the project was approved by the city's Planning Commission and City Council in 1996, residents circulated petitions to place the issue on the ballot.

Falls residents overwhelmingly rejected the housing, voting 15,828 to 5,824 against the plan.

The battle went to the Ohio Supreme Court, which eventually ruled in Buckeye's favor in July 1998. The organization then had to wait until it got its financing back in place before it could start the project.

Buckeye still is seeking at least $2 million in damages from the city in a separate federal housing lawsuit. No trial date has been set.

The nonprofit is accusing the city of blocking the project because of racial issues and fears about families with children.

But city officials have said residents opposed the project because of concerns about noise, traffic and the impact on Woodridge schools, not because of discrimination ...

Sheffield Twp. pleased

But if Sheffield Township's experience is an indication, Falls residents might not need to worry.

In the township, where Buckeye opened a 60-unit affordable housing complex in December 1997, officials seem pleased with the project.

Just as with the Cuyahoga Falls project, the Sheffield Township apartments are available to families who make no more than 60 percent of the average income in the county.

In Cuyahoga Falls, that likely will be about $31,700 for a family of four, or $22,000 for a single person, Boone said.

Sheffield Township Zoning Inspector Pete D'Agnese, who handles all complaints that come to Township Hall, had nothing but good things to say about Buckeye.

``They build very nice-looking buildings,'' he said. ``There's been no complaints that I'm aware of.

``We're more than happy with them. If they want to build another project here, we'd be happy to have them.''

Sheffield Meadows currently only abuts other apartments.

However, that could soon change.

Another developer is planning a 125-unit condominium complex next to Buckeye's affordable apartments, D'Agnese said. Those condominium units will sell for at least $125,000 each.

``They wouldn't build there if there were problems,'' D'Agnese said.

The complex does generate more calls to the Lorain County Sheriff's Department than other areas of the township, said Deputy Chuck Motylewski, the township's community-policing officer.

However, Motylewski attributes the volume of calls to the comparatively large number of residents living there.

The township only has one other apartment complex, which generates just as many -- if not more -- calls, he said.

``I think it's the number of people here,'' he said. ``There are so many different types of people.''

Many of the complaints received are minor, such as juvenile pranks or disabled cars, according to Sheriff's Department records. Many others involve domestic violence.

Anna Jean Gergel, a widow who has lived in the complex since it opened, said she feels safe.

The senior citizen moved into a handicapped-accessible unit after suffering a stroke.

``I like it very much,'' she said.

Tenant, property checks

Buckeye conducts a thorough background check to make sure potential tenants have not been convicted of a felony, drug or illegal-substance-abuse charge, assault, breaking and entering or passing a bad check in the past five years, Boone said.

``Nothing will chase away good residents like one bad resident,'' he said.

The agency also conducts regular exterior and interior inspections to make sure the apartments are well-maintained, Boone said.

``We don't have problems with garbage and litter,'' Property Manager Melissa Parsons said.

Parsons has a vested interest in keeping the apartment complex nice. Her family has lived there for two years -- one year before she started working for Buckeye.

Parsons, her husband and her two young children qualified to live there. At the time, the family's total income was about $28,000 annually.

``We were trying to get on our feet and get things started,'' she said. ``This is wonderful. It allows us to save that money so we can buy a house.''

Many residents of Sheffield Meadows are young families like hers, Parsons said. Others are senior citizens who can't afford the high rent of traditional apartment complexes.

``Just because it's a lower rent doesn't mean it's lower-class people,'' she said."

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NEWS ARTICLE from the PRESS, November 24, 1999, By Bud Henderson

"Funding approved for low-income apartments

Avon City Councilman Neils Jensen probably summed up the general feeling among Avon residents when he found out the state had approved funding for low-income apartments on Chester Road.

"I think it stinks that the state can not only tell us we have to have these apartments, but they also provide the money to build them."

The 256-apartment complex, east of Moore Road, now seems to be a reality in the very near future ...

One of the other fears expressed by several residents is that the residents of the new apartments will come from outside Cleveland.

"It's like bussing students," one resident said. "Why don't they build these things where the potential residents live, instead of bringing them here?"

City officials were more cautious in their comments ...

Planning Commission Jim Piazza said, "They (the developers) presented an informal plan the other night to planning commission. They indicated they would not seek any variances and would comply strictly with our codes.

"That's our job, to make sure they follow our codes. If they do that they will probably get approval in January or February." ...

Avon Police Chief John Vilagi, a Chester Road resident, said, "As police chief, all I can do is gear up for additional officers to handle the problems that will arise."

"As a resident, I can only say that if these apartments are built, and the worst-case scenario happens, I'll probably take a loss on my property and move out."

The $25 million project will be built by Brisben Companies, a Cincinatti-based developer, with help from the state, which will provide a $5 million tax credit and $12 million in tax-free bonds.

The 7.5-acre site, on both sides of Chester Road, was purchased from Regis Klingshirn, for a reported $100,000 per acre ...

A spokesman from the state said some or all of the apartments will be Section 8 approved, meaning that some or all of the rents will be subsidized.

Brisben representative Donald Paxton said, despite the high cost of land, his company could build the apartments for about $50 a square foot, a figure questioned by many city officials ..."

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NEWS ARTICLE from the Cleveland Free Times, 11-25-99, by Suzanne Ledel

... "The ... Ohio-Environment Growth Alliance [OEGA], which consists of hundreds of businesses and chambers of commerce from around the state, says it plans to "fire `truth missiles' at growing `urban-sprawl' and anti-growth rhetoric statewide."

"There has been a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of people who are thinking that these negative views about growth are the only views there are," says Michelle May, managing director of the OEGA. "We are going to end that; we are going to bring common sense back to the concept of growth." ...

The fright of flight from older cities and metropolitan areas has spread to a national level, evidenced by President Bill Clinton's $1 billion land legacy program, which targets the protection of unspoiled lands and historic sites. Vice President Al Gore, who has advocated putting an additional $100 million into Clinton's program, has made anti-sprawl, or "livability," issues part of his presidential campaign ... [Incite and prey on fear -- vulture politicians circling for juicy political road kill at the expense of the taxpayers]

Ohio Gov. Bob Taft has not yet made smart growth initiatives part of his administration's priorities. And it's unclear if he ever will ...

The OEGA ... advocates that only local governments have control over any and all development issues.

According to the OEGA, ... "Once the fear is taken away and people understand that there is nothing wrong with growth and that most of this anti-sprawl has been hyped, sense will return and people will see communities deserve to decide these matters," May says. "More groups like us are bound to form, and we have no doubt our way will be the common sense approach that prevails." ...

LETTER to THE EDITOR of the CLEVELAND FREE TIMES, 11-25-99, by Jake Daab, Cleveland

Lay off sprawl

"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

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"Restriction on hunting takes effect in Avon

AVON - Richard Miller is being forced to break a tradition.

For years, Miller would sneak in a few hours of hunting during the deer-gun season before calling it quits around 10 a.m. to open his taxidermy shop.

But starting today, [11-29-99] guns are outlawed for deer hunting in Avon, except for the single-fire muzzle-loaders that fall under the state's primitive weapons category. Prohibiting the most popular way to hunt deer is a safety decision in Lorain County's fastest-growing community ...

The gun season runs from today through Saturday, plus Sunday in selected areas. Outside areas like Avon, hunters can use [shot]guns with up to three [slug] shells available.

Avon City Council passed an ordinance Oct. 12 [1999] prohibiting the use of anything other than primitive weapons during deer season. And, for the first time, property used for hunting must be registered with the Avon Police Department ...

Residents complain about deer damaging plants or causing car accidents, said Jim Petrasek, law enforcement supervisor for the district.

"We try to use a common-sense approach" in advising cities, he said. "Aurora had shut it off completely. But they had so many car-deer accidents that they wanted to open it up some way."

Aurora banned hunting in 1991 and decided in 1996 to let bow hunting resume. Strongsville considered but rejected a similar proposal in 1997.

In Avon, there is no change in the archery season, which runs Oct. 2 to Jan. 31.

Avon Police Chief John R. Vilagi said no incident led to the change to restrict gun hunting, just increasing concerns as Avon's fields and woods were overtaken by commercial development and houses being built at a rate of more than 200 a year.

"We're trying to be proactive with it," Vilagi said. "The town is not the sleepy little burg that it used to be." ''

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