Avon Growth News, 4-19-00 to 6-20-00

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4-20-00 Perkins project cooking
4-25-00 Rezoning near Harvest Drive
4-26-00 Avon Commons on schedule
5-2-00 Showdown over park
5-6-00 Former Avon Council Members Memories of Sewers
5-10-00 Land sale revives apartments
5-20-00 Avon girds for growth
6-20-00 Imagine Avon

EDITORIAL from THE MORNING jOURNAL, 4-19-00

SMILE: The City of Avon has come to the rescue of the local 'Safety Town' program after a growth spurt surprised organizers. We commend Mayor Jim Smith for finding $3,800 to help a local parent-teacher group, the Village School PTA, meet the costs of increased participation.

The program went from an average of 60 children a year to 220 preschoolers for the 2000 season. The solution is temporary. Now the community is challenged to bring together parents of other schools, both public and private, to make a plan for the future.

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 4-20-00, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer

"Perkins project cooking in Avon

AVON -- Plans to build a Perkins Restaurant and Wingate Inn on Chester Road in Avon moved forward last night, while city officials sent plans for a Discount Drug Mart back for more work.

The Avon Pointe project, located at Chester Road and SR 83 just west of City Hall, has signed contracts with both Perkins and Wingate, said Jerry Seifert, a partner with the Hudson firm Currie-Hall ...

Perkins plans to break ground in 60 to 90 days, Seifert said. Construction of a Wingate Inn should begin about 60 days after that.

'I think you'll see this intersection really blossom this year, with our project and with Avon Commons around the corner,' Seifert said. 'The year 2000 will be millennial for this area.'

Discount Drug Mart also has big plans for 2000, but final engineering details have detained its project for at least one more month.

The Medina-based company wants to build a 19,990-square-foot building at the northeast corner of Nagel and Detroit roads -- and finish it this year.

The site is the current home of the Hickory Inn, which Drug Mart admits will have to be demolished.

Drug Mart received approval for a 'footprint' of the plan in March, which includes two smaller buildings that could eventually be stores or warehouses.

Last night, City Engineer Gar Downing gave Drug Mart officials a list of changes to their plans, from adding sidewalks to showing calculations for the small retention pond on the property's corner.

Drug Mart still hopes to build and open the store before the end of this year, said Vice President Bill Malin. The company plans to return with engineering details in May.

Both Currie-Hall and Drug Mart have land for extra tenants.

On Currie-Hall's site, Perkins and Wingate will take up 3.6 acres, leaving another 3.8 acres for as many as three more businesses.

Currie-Hall is in 'final negotiations' with a convenience store for a 1.5-acre parcel, Seifert said. Two other parcels could eventually see hotels or office buildings, Seifert said.

Drug Mart is only developing the first 4.4 acres of its property now. The company has yet to seek tenants for the two smaller buildings, Malin said.

'We want to wait until we have final approval,' he said. 'Then we'll check our files and see who has approached us in the past.'

In other business last night, Planning Commission also voted unanimously to approve a water line heading south through Avon's western edge to North Ridgeville.

The line, proposed by the Avon Lake Utilities Department, will eventually connect Medina to Avon Lake. City Council must now approve the water line because of its intersection with Long Road."

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 4-25-00, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer

"Avon rezoning sparks debate

AVON -- A request to allow commercial development on 5.5 acres off SR 611 has sparked rage in a neighborhood and began a process to change city zoning codes.

Annie Smith, the 76-year-old owner of Smith's Country Corner, received Planning Commission approval to rezone acreage behind the small grocery on SR 611 west of Harvest Drive ...

But area residents purchased their homes believing their backyard would stay wooded. Last night [4-25-00], about 20 residents came to City Hall to speak against Smith's request.

'For those of us who have enjoyed a wooded area behind us, it's going to be tough to see a building just 10 feet in back of us,' said Jim Hogg, a Harvest Drive resident.

'We knew we were making a significant investment when we made this purchase seven or eight years ago, and we purchased with the idea that the surrounding area was residential,' Candlewood Drive resident Russ Toye said. 'We never would have purchased otherwise.'

After hearing from neighbors, some Council members said they are undecided on the issue.

'I'm still on the fence,' Ward 3 Councilman Tim Nickum said. 'If you look at it according to the law, Mrs. Smith has every right to get her rezoning. But you have to agree with the residential owners that some extra buffering would be good.'

One of the neighbors' contentions is that Avon's current zoning codes allow commercial buildings to sit too closely to residential yards.

Under current law, commercial property only needs a 10-foot buffer zone.

For Candlewood Drive resident Cindy Pechaitis, that's too close.

'We need to address the law before you make this change, if that's all possible,' she told Council.

Planning Commission unanimously passed a new rule Wednesday that would require a 35-foot buffer between commercial and residential zoned property. Council would still have to vote on the rule before it becomes law.

Before that change comes for a vote, by law, Smith's request must be voted on, Law Director Dan Stringer said. Council has scheduled a special meeting for next Monday to make their decision.

If the bigger buffer requirement is passed, it would affect all commercial property, even pieces zoned before its passage, Piazza said.

Smith said she made the request without any development plan in the works.

'I haven't even thought of selling it or put it up for sale,' she said. 'That depends on my husband's health and my own.' ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 5-2-00, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer

"Avon Council OKs SR 611 rezoning

AVON -- City Council last night unanimously approved three requests to rezone land on SR 611 east of the I-90 interchange.

The first two votes will affect two pieces of property next to BJ's Wholesale Club, changing them from one type of commercial zoning to another.

Without discussion, Council agreed to developer Mitch Schneider's request to allow hotels, office complexes, small shops and gas stations on the 3-acre parcels flanking the superstore ...

The third request ... Council voted to rezone the 5.5 acres behind Smith's Country Corner for shops rather than apartments.

Ward 2 Councilman David Kaiser, who represents the area and has been outspoken in his criticism of the rezoning, was 25 minutes late and missed the vote ...

The neighbors, led by Candlewood Drive resident Cindy Pechaitis, lobbied for changes to Avon's code to require larger buffers areas between businesses and homes.

Planning Commission members unanimously approved the suggestion two weeks ago, expanding the current 10-foot buffer zone to 35 feet.

Council must now vote on the proposition before it becomes law. Assuming it passes before any formal development proposal from Smith, it would affect her property, too.

Ward 1 Councilman Niels Jensen began the meeting by saying he would vote against Smith's request. But he changed his mind after hearing that the changes could become law so soon.

''This isn't fair to the neighbors, but it's not fair to her either,'' Jensen said. ''It's a tough choice.'' "

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 5-23-00, MORGAN LEWIS JR., Morning Journal Writer

"AVON -- Roadwork will begin this week on the $65 million Avon Commons Shopping Center, which will include the installation of seven traffic signals and the widening of Detroit Road, the developer announced yesterday [5-22-00].

The road widening, utility improvement and traffic signal installations will begin at the intersection of SR 83 and Chester Road and will continue with the installation of traffic signals at the I-90 interchange, through the interchange of SR 83 and Detroit Road, and then down Detroit Road to Jaycox Road.

The roadwork is supposed to be completed by November.

Richard Carlisle, development manager for First Interstate Development Co., the shopping center developer, said traffic in both directions will be maintained in all construction areas.

Carlisle was uncertain about what day this week the work will begin.

More than $2.25 million will be spent by First Interstate on roadway improvements. SE Johnson Co. won the contract to perform the work.

Avon Commons' tenants will include Target, The Home Depot, Linens 'n Things, Old Navy, Kohl's, Michael's Crafts, Marshall's, Cost Plus and a Heinen's Supermarket.

The shopping center is scheduled to open in spring of 2001 ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 4-26-00, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer

"Avon Commons taking shape

AVON -- The walls are about to rise for the first store -- Target ...

First Interstate, the Pepper Pike company developing the 85-acre Avon Commons, will begin building the Target store next week [5-1-00], said company Vice President Richard Carlisle.

The store will sit on the shopping center's eastern end, closest to I-90. Other stores -- such as Kohl's, Marshall's and Michael's Crafts -- are to begin construction in June or July, Carlisle said ...

First Interstate broke ground in November, announcing most tenants then. While company officials indicated the shopping center would be full by the time construction is completed, no new tenants have been announced ...

Thanks to a mild winter, the project is on schedule, Carlisle said.

'Things have gone really well,' he said. 'We've had a great winter for building.'

Drilling on the site will start May 1, Carlisle said. Masonry work is expected to begin in mid-May.

Also starting in May are ... road improvements for the project.

First Interstate has pledged to install seven new traffic lights and upgrade another. The intersections of SR 83 and Chester Road and Jaycox and Detroit roads will be widened, with turn lanes added.

Also, traffic lights will be added at the SR 83 and I-90 interchange, and First Interstate will widen Detroit Road in front of the shopping center.

That work will begin in late May and should end by Dec. 31, Carlisle said. Avon Service Director Jerry Plas predicted minimal impact on area drivers during the road work ..."

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 5-2-00, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer

"AVON -- Questions about a contract for design of Veterans Memorial Park led to a showdown between Parks Commission Chairman David Mast and the councilman who wants him to quit.

At issue is a contract with the firm Schmidt Parker Copeland Stevens for architectural work on the 62-acre park. The contract was never approved by City Council.

Even Mast said he doesn't know why Avon has now been billed for nearly $80,000 -- much more than the $10,300 bill that originally triggered questions from Council.

For the first time last night, Mast admitted asking the firm to send invoices to his home rather than City Hall, characterizing it as a mistake ...

With so many unanswered questions, Council President Shaun Brady ... decided to put the invoice question onto yet another work session. This time, the engineering firm will be asked to attend, Brady said ...

Last fall, Mayor Jim Smith signed a contract with the firm for $28,000 in architectural work.

But neither Council members nor Finance Director Bob Hamilton said they knew of the contract until a $10,300 bill -- covering the first part of the work -- arrived in March.

Kilroy has blamed Mast for taking the contract to Smith rather than Council, as well as directing invoices to his home rather than City Hall.

Until last night, Mast defended the misdirected invoices as the firm's mistake ...

Mast said it was the decision of the Parks Commission, and he was not chairman at that time. He then urged Council to proceed with park plans, regardless of his mistakes.

''I still can't understand why I asked them to send the invoices to my home,'' Mast said. ''If that wouldn't have happened, we wouldn't be having this discussion. But I really wish you guys would just appropriate the money and build this thing.''

Kilroy disagreed, accusing Mast of ''circumventing government procedure'' regardless of the invoice apology.

''Mr. Mast was on the committee, but he has no idea how it happened,'' he said. ''We have no explanation for these subsequent contracts, which are now going to add up to more than $80,000 just for design work ...'' "

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 5-12-00, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer

"AVON -- Avon's Parks Commission would be stripped of five major duties under legislation that City Council is likely to approve.

The proposal, approved unanimously by council's Legal Committee yesterday [5-11-00], would leave the seven-member parks commission as no more than an advisory board.

The parks commission currently has the power to update the Parks and Recreational Facilities Plan, give annual reports, submit budgets and manage all city recreation programs.

The proposal would take away all those duties, delegating them to Avon's parks director, said Ward 3 Councilman Tim Nickum.

''Now that we have a parks director, we find that his duties as listed in the charter conflict with those given to the commission,'' Nickum said. ''We needed to clean up the language, that's all.''

Jack Zajaros was hired as Avon's first parks director last year. His position is part-time.

Although Nickum was careful to call the change ''no slap at anybody; just a housekeeping thing,'' both he and Ward 4 Councilman Jack Kilroy admitted that a recent problem with the commission chairman fueled the committee's recommendation.

Questions about an architectural services contract for a new park led to a blowup between Kilroy and Commission Chairman David Mast.

Kilroy accused Mast of entering a contract with a design firm without authorization or City Council's knowledge. Mast denied that allegation. Kilroy called for Mast's resignation and Mast refused to answer any of Kilroy's questions.

''These problems do demonstrate why the language needs to be changed,'' Kilroy said. ''The commission read their duties as empowering them to that sort of thing. I think they were being a little reckless.'' ...

Mayor Jim Smith endorsed the change.

''I'm not going to point any fingers, but it will probably work a lot better now,'' Smith said ..."

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE PLAIN DEALER, 5-6-00, By JOSEPH L. WAGNER, PLAIN DEALER REPORTER

[Former Avon Council Members Memories of Sewers]

"AVON - ... City officials allowed brothers Gary and Jon Smitek to tap into a nearby sewer line rather than run a new one down Ohio 83 ...

Former City Council President Ted Graczyk ... was council president when the sewer arrangement was approved. He also was the council's voting representative to the Planning Commission.

He alleged that the Smiteks either deceived the Planning Commission or City Engineer Michael Bramhall failed to point out to the panel that the sewer proposal would require an amendment to the master sewer plan ...

Bramhall ... said the Smiteks received no special treatment, and Bramhall said City Council received all of the information it needed to understand the proposal.

Bramhall said the sewer proposal made sense from an engineering standpoint and could save residents money in the long run.

The issue arose when Gary and Jon Smitek, principal owners of Central South Partners, began to improve some 100 residential sublots that they intended to sell Pulte Homes in Highland Park ...

The city's master sewer plan divides the city into 12 sewer districts to safeguard against overloading any part of the sewer system. A new development must connect to the sewer system within its own district. Deviations must be approved by City Council after a public hearing.

The regulations posed a problem for the Smiteks because their 100 lots span two sewer districts. About half could legally be hooked to an existing sewer that winds through the Smiteks' earlier phases of Highland Park.

Smitek said the other lots were in an adjacent district. If the master sewer plan had been followed, the Smiteks would have been required to build a sewer 1.3 miles north along Ohio 83, Graczyk and other current and former council members said.

Bramhall said the route would be more expensive because the sewer would have to be wider and installed deeper in rocky soil than the existing sewer. He estimated that the Smiteks' cost would have been more than $238,000.

The Smiteks' subdivision documents, presented to the Planning Commission and City Council, showed their preferred sewer route and were approved ...

Former Councilwoman Shirley Doss said she never would have voted for the plan if she had known it strayed from codes. She said waivers from the master sewer plan had been granted but only after careful review.

[While on Council, Mrs. Doss was chairperson of the Sewers and Drains Committee. She was responsible for reviewing sewer issues brought before Council. She was responsible for knowing the codes and making sure that a sewer plan did not "stray from the codes."]

Doss and Graczyk said Bramhall should have been more explicit about the implications to the master sewer plan ...

[As Council President and Council's representative to the Planning Commission, Graczyk was responsible for raising concerns to Council about a Planning Commission recommendation. No such concerns are mentioned in Council minutes. Planning Commission Chairman James Piazza recalls that Graczyk was an active participant in all Planning Commission meetings where this sewer issue was discussed.]

Bramhall and city Service Director Jerry Plas asserted that they alerted council that the Smiteks' plan would be a departure from the sewer plan. Plas said either he or a staff member noted the sewer change in discussions ...

Bramhall said he did not mislead council members or withhold information. He said Planning Commission and council members had sewer district maps.

Councilman Jack Kilroy said Bramhall should realize that his reports are often technical. "As an engineer, he should explain in plain English to council and the Planning Commission what we've voting on," Kilroy said ..."

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 5-10-00, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer

"Land sale revives apartments

AVON -- A land sale worth nearly $2.5 million to a local family has rekindled a controversial state-subsidized apartment project after months of uncertainty.

Earlier this year, Brisben Company of Cincinnati secured all city approvals to build 256 townhouses on the north and south sides of Chester Road.

The apartments, reserved for moderate and low-income families under state financing rules, had been shelved for three months ...

Regis and Patricia Klingshirn, ... Brisben paid the lifelong Avon residents a total of $2,498,000 -- a little more than $96,000 per acre.

That price is significantly more than the going price of residential land in Avon, which is about $33,000 an acre ...

The $23 million project now needs City Council approval."

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 5-20-00, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer

"AVON -- Building departments in both Avon and Avon Lake are set to grow, with city councils in both cities likely to approve creating new building inspector positions on Monday [5-22-00].

Avon will add one full-time inspector. Avon Lake will add one part-time inspector, with plans to add another part-time position in the planning department soon.

Both cities see the new positions as their only way to deal with another year of rapid growth. In 1999, Avon reached its highest number of new building permits issued. The city may match that record this year, Mayor Jim Smith said.

''We've got to do so many inspections, and we've got to do them in a timely manner,'' Smith said. ''We're doing OK, but we need more help.'' ...

The two booming suburbs are seeing different types of growth. In Avon, the pace of local homebuilders has cooled somewhat from 1999. But national builders like Ryan Homes and Pulte have stayed busy, and commercial growth has increased, Smith said.

If approved by council, Avon's newest inspector would focus on commercial buildings, such as the Perkins Restaurant set for SR 83 and the Avon Commons shopping center underway on SR 254, Smith said.

Across the tracks, Avon Lake's growth has been almost entirely new homes ..."

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 6-20-00, REBECCA GRAY, Morning Journal Writer

"Avon thinks large, small

AVON -- Avon residents want to see their community grow, but they want to retain the ''small town atmosphere,'' according to a recent survey.

The Imagine Avon project surveyed more than 200 residents last fall in an effort to learn what was important to the community. The findings were presented to Avon City Council last night.

''People said growth is good, but they wanted to keep a small town atmosphere in Avon,'' said Imagine Avon Consultant Fran Bostwick.

Also at the top of the wish list was a full-time fire department and a recreation center that would include swimming facilities, said Imagine Avon Co-Chairman Sharon Kratt.

''In spite of having a very fine volunteer department, people wanted a full-time department as the city grows,'' said Imagine Avon Coordinator Sheila Wilson.

Mayor Jim Smith agreed a full-time staff should replace the 28-person volunteer fire department ...

Kratt said she hopes the group's findings will serve as a guideline for future decision-making.

''We hope the political and community leaders will take these goals into consideration when making decisions,'' Kratt said ... "

rgray@eriecoast.com

Imagine Avon

Posted by Sheila Wilson on 5/29/2000 to the Avon History Message Board

Imagine Avon will hold a Press Conference before the city council meeting on Monday June 19, 2000. Imagine Avon will present it's findings in booklet form to city council at the June 19 council meeting.

Copies of the Imagine Avon Booklet will be available at the Avon Libarary and at Avon City Hall after the June 19 Press conference and council meeting.

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