Avon Growth News, 5-1-06 to 6-14-06

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4-12-06 Good water brings industry to Avon

5-10-06 School operating levy barely passes as seniors say 'no'

6-14-06 Parents often unaware of kids' asthma risk

6-5-06 Minutes of the Legal Committee

6-4-06 From small town to boom town

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Primary Election Results, May 2, 2006:

Oldtimer, in a message to www.loraincounty.com dated 5-6-06, wrote:

``Issue #2 - Avon Local School District: Additional 2.87 mills Emergency Requirements of School District - 5 years

For: 2,112; Against: 1,935

Issue #3 - Avon Local School District: Additional 1.90 mills Providing for School Improvement Bonds - 28 years

For: 2,268; Against: 1,756

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urbanflight wrote on 5-4-06:

``Just so we are clear about the difference between facts and opinions as many people seem to have a problem distinguishing between the two:

Opinion: "And the school is not building a bus palace."

Fact: "Buildings cost money."

Fact: "It will not only house the garage, but offices and restrooms and other rooms."''

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Oldtimer wrote:

``It is probable that in a few years the busses will be stored on the flyash landfill at SR 611 or somewhere in Avon's industrial area. Then the bus drivers will have to drive in their own cars to use the offices and restrooms and other rooms in the bus garage at Heritage North.''

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Avon Eagle wrote on March 23, 2006:

``The School Board ... [is] going to build that blasted thing come no matter what!!! The only personality missing from the School Board is Alfred E. Newman from Mad Magazine. "What? Me worry?" attitude would fit right in with this arrogance.''

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Avon Eagle wrote on May 8, 2006:

``In 2000, Avon's levy passed: 69% For 31% Against

In 2002, Avon's levy passed: 53% For 47% Against

In 2004, Avon's levy passed: 55% For 45% Against

In 2006, Avon's levy passed: 52% For 48% Against

I simply made the observation that those who had blindly supported levies in the past were now questioning the handling of finances by the School Board. Looks like these margins are narrowing ...''

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``Written by: urbanflight on May 25, 2006

Title: Bus fumes are bad? Not in Avon they aren't!

Message: WASHINGTON (AP) -- Most states aren't doing enough to protect children from the diesel exhaust many of them inhale while riding or waiting for school buses, an environmental advocacy group said in a report Wednesday.

No state received an A grade in the Union of Concerned Scientists' National School Bus Report Card, although it noted that many are working to cut school bus emissions, which can contribute to asthma and other respiratory ailments.

"School buses can be a major source of pollution exposure for children," said Patricia Monahan, an analyst for the group.

The Washington, D.C.-based organization advocates accurate scientific information in policymaking and sometimes takes liberal stances on issues.

After examining data supplied by all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the organization found that the district and Delaware, which received B grades, had the lowest rates of soot pollution: just over 9 pounds of pollution per bus last year. Fourteen other states also received Bs.

The worst polluter was South Carolina, closely followed by South Dakota. Both earned D grades, as did 11 other states.

Ninety-five percent of the nation's school buses are diesel-powered, and the group is recommending that they be refitted with fuel oxygenators or other anti-pollution equipment. The group also wants buses over 12 years old to be replaced by newer low-emission models.

"The oldest buses seem to pump out soot every time they climb a hill or accelerate," said Dennis J. McLerran, executive director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency in Seattle ...

Several states are using alternative-fuel buses, replacing older buses with cleaner-burning models or retrofitting buses with devices that trap emissions. A considerably more low-tech method also can reduce children's exposure to bus pollution, especially as they wait in the parking lot for a ride home.

"We're recommending you just turn the engines off whenever you can," said Dwight Sinila, transportation director of Michigan's education department ...''

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``Written by: Avon Eagle on May 26, 2006

Title: Re: Bus fumes are bad? URBANFLIGHT

Message: I don't care if the BUS PALACE has been on the drawing board since the dawn of mankind!!! The report from Chemical Risk Management was not completed and submitted until September of 2005! When a risk is brought to your attention, you pull back and re-think things. You can draw comparisons with lead based paint. It was used for years without any knowledge of health risks. When those risks became known, the product was discontinued. Even now, look at the recent litigation against Sherwin Williams for these issues dating back decades!''

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``Written by: elyrian1 on May 26, 2006

Title: Re: Bus fumes are bad? URBANFLIGHT

Message: Any buses fumes, any diesel for that matter, have high concentrations of benzene in them. Benzene is a known carcinogen.''

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``Written by: Feline on May 26, 2006

Title: Re: Bus fumes are bad? URBANFLIGHT/elyrian1

Message: So then, is it reaching too far to say that the high incindence of cancer in our cities could very well be linked to some thing like that? Any studies ever been done on the subject?''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 4-12-06, By Julie A. Short

[Good water brings industry to Avon]

``AVON LAKE -- Local businesses are the key to a successful city. That was the theme echoed by area mayors during the North Coast Regional Chamber of Commerce's annual Mayors' Luncheon on April 4 at the Fountain Bleau party center in Avon Lake ...

Avon Mayor Jim Smith was pleased to report that the city's $2.5 million fire station (built in 2003) is now paid off. "We also dedicated approximately $1 million a year for road improvements," Smith said. "Our ditch enclosure project is nearly complete. It took over five years, but it's something that needed to be done. We'll never know the lives we've saved because of this project."

"We've also paved Schneider Court which is where our new service building is located," Smith continued. "This opens up another 250 acres in the city to be used for industrial development. We also have more than 2,400 acres of industrial property available." Smith praised a number of Avon-based companies that have stayed in the city due to the emotional attachment the owners have to the community.

"I kiss the ground Henkel walks on," Smith said. "The company continues to grow and is an asset to the city. A. J. Rose and Jenne Distributors are also owned by local residents." New companies have also relocated to Avon including Carroll Manufacturing (CMS) and DM Trinity Foods.

"Kudos to Avon Lake," Smith said. "One of the reasons these two companies came here was because the water is the finest around. Avon's water comes from Avon Lake. It's one of the finest facilities in the state of Ohio."

According to Smith, work has begun to clear trees for the SR 83 extension, which will alleviate some of the congestion on the current dogleg. Smith also noted that the area will see more commercial development in the future ...''

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FEATURE ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 6-4-06, by SCOTT PATSKO, Morning Journal Writer

``From small town to boom town

The sign standing tall in the field next to Mary Miller's house has been there about a year now. It is weathered and worn, but the large painted words are still readable for the traffic passing by on SR 611 in Avon:

Commercial Lot. For Sale. Prime Investment.

Two doors down, another sign has stood in front of Don and Cecelia Conrad's home for the past year.

Commercial -- C4. For Sale By Owner. 2.78 Acres.

Miller, a widower who has lived on 611 for 15 years, wants to move away from the busy four-lane road running past her house.

''It was a two-lane country road when we moved here,'' said Miller. ''Now it starts tailgating in front of our house.''

The Conrads have been residents of 611 for 52 years. They remember when their young children could cross the road without worry.

''That couldn't happen today,'' said Cecelia Conrad. ''Avon has gotten too big.''

Too big or not, the city is barely halfway to the finish line. [A few years ago, Parma, with about the same land area as Avon, had a population of 87,000.]

Few places have ballooned as quickly as Avon. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Avon was the fastest growing city in Northeast Ohio, and the third fastest in the state, through 2004.

From 1970 to 1990 the city hovered near 7,000 residents, but by 2004 the population had grown to nearly 15,000. Today it's closer to 17,000. City officials estimate that Avon will exceed 40,000 residents by the time it runs out of land to develop.

Avon's transformation began as a housing boom, which took advantage of undeveloped land and farm land. ''A lot of those old farms and vineyards, their best crop has been houses,'' said Avon's Chief Building Officer Ken Miller.

The housing boom led to a commercial boom, set off in large part by the 2001 opening of Avon Commons, a massive retail center at SR 83 and Detroit Road.

Since then, Avon has performed a balancing act between residential, commercial and industrial growth. ''It's really tough to be one of the fastest growing in Ohio and be financially stable,'' said Mayor Jim Smith. ''But it's happened. I think 90 percent of that was luck and the other 10 percent was that we didn't screw up our good luck.''

The police department's $2.4 million budget is completely paid for with taxes from people who work in Avon. The fire department's $2.6 million budget is 75-percent paid for by people working in Avon. Also, the city paid off the new $2.4 million fire department in three years. ''There isn't another city around that can say they did that,'' said Smith.

The Avon of today differs greatly from the Avon of the early 1990s, before the population began soaring. Back then, the city had three public school buildings. Now it has six, including a $12.9 million high school built in 1998, not to mention more than 40 busses and a running debate between the school board and City Council over where to house them.

Not counting bars, the city had five places where you could get a meal in 1990. Today it has 25 and counting. Also in the early 1990s, the city had just a pair of banks. Today it has nine, including three in Avon Commons alone.

It used to be that if you wanted to buy a shovel in Avon, you had to go downtown to Buck's Hardware. Today, you can still go to Buck's ... or Home Depot, Target or Wal-Mart.

Perhaps the biggest change in Avon -- along with the volume of traffic -- can be found in its homes. In 1991, the median home price was $83,500. Today it is more than $200,000.

''Our cost per home exceeded Avon Lake last year,'' said Jim Piazza, Avon's Planning Coordinator. ''There are new homes on Case Road in Avon, and if you go right across the border into North Ridgeville, you'll find the same homes for $25,000-$30,000 less.''

The arrival of new homes started slowly, numbering 81 in 1993, then 138 in 1994. The city averaged about 230 new homes per year from 1996-2000 before jumping to 315, then a peak of 415 in 2002. Since then, 300-plus has been the norm.

A more staggering statistic is this: In 1994 Avon had 2,801 homes. By the beginning of this year it had built 3,386 more.

Midway through the city's housing surge, commercial developers converged on Avon. Jack Smith's family landed the biggest deal, selling about 75 percent of the land where Avon Commons now sits.

The land had been in Smith's family since 1939 [35 acres by 1940; the remainder was purchassed in the 1960's. The Smiths supplied the fill for two legs of I 90. From Abbe to SR 83 and from SR 83 to Crocker are built on sandstone from the site of Avon Commons]. When I-90 reached Avon in the late 1960s, Smith knew it was only a matter of time before the property was developed.

''We had made it available,'' said Smith, 72 and president of the Avon Historical Society. ''We actually had a number of inquiries over the years but rejected them because they weren't right.''

Avon Commons, a $65 million development, opened in 2001 with 600,000 square feet of retail space. ''It filled a need this entire area needed,'' said Smith. ''The housing was there in Westlake and Avon.''

Avon Commons also fills coffers. Mayor Smith said the shopping complex puts out $1.8-$2 million per year in local taxes. ''We are very fortunate that we got the industries and commercial that we did,'' said Mayor Smith. ''And (Jack) Smith bringing in Avon Commons was a real plus.'' That drew in other destinations on or near SR 83 such as French Creek Square, Wal-Mart and Best Buy.

Lured to the area by the water quality of neighbor Avon Lake, a soup company from Texas opted to put its facility in Avon because the city's land is more competitive.

However, Mayor Smith said Auto Zone decided against coming to Avon because the city's average income has increased to the point where too many people just pay to have their cars fixed instead of doing it themselves.

Jack Smith, who also sold some land now occupied by Wal-Mart, is proud of his family's contribution to the growth of Avon. But he is perhaps more concerned with making sure the city's small town image remains intact.

For Jack Smith, that image is found in Avon's downtown, otherwise known as the French Creek District, rife with antique shops, small businesses and Avon landmarks. ''When people come through Avon, they don't see the new developments and expensive homes,'' he said. ''They see downtown Avon. They go right down Detroit Road. That's what we need to preserve.''

''If we stick to the (development) plan the city has had since 1969, I think we basically guarantee the financial integrity and quality of Avon. We can have new construction without destroying our image.''

In March, 2006, about 70 people gathered at Providence Church in Avon to voice their concerns about how that very image is, in fact, being compromised.

Avon Citizens Committee 2006, a political action group, sponsored the town hall meeting. ''We're not anti-development,'' member Jon Pinney told the crowd. ''But at some point enough is enough.''

Some in the crowd accused the city of letting developers control the rate of growth in Avon, citing disputes the city has recently faced over zoning issues.

Currently, developer Greg Romes is at odds with the city over the requested rezoning -- from residential to commercial -- on a corner of Detroit and SR 83. The case is currently in Lorain County Common Pleas court.

Earlier this month the ACC asked City Council to consider an amendment allowing such rezoning requests to be put to a city-wide vote.

Tom Hogle, an Avon resident for eight years, said he wonders why the city should even get to that point. ''Do we even need (more commercial)?'' Hogle asked those at the town hall meeting. ''Maybe I'm not enough of a visionary, but I can't envision what stores we need that we don't already have so many of.''

Longtime Avon resident George Bliss said: ''What's the hurry? The city is going to change. It's all going to be built out. But there should be a way to slow down the pace.''

With Avon going through so many changes, the city has decided to take a look at its Master Plan for development, which was last reviewed in 1992. That has former mayor Tom Wearsch troubled.

''I'm hearing statements like, `If we tweak it a little bit we'll get some lawsuits off our back','' said Wearsch. ''But it's an erosion of what our master plan really means. ''We just need the will in this town to keep on the course and develop a community we all want to live in when it's fully developed.''

A proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road -- and what developments it could bring to the area around it -- remains a popular issue in Avon.

''Thirty years ago there was land for sale near I-90 just off Avon Road for about $24,000. It was about 7.5 acres,'' said the 82-year-old Bliss, who lives just east of Nagel on Detroit Road. ''A year or so ago, before the I-90 interchange was proposed, (the owner) was asking $500,000. I don't know what he wants now.''

Nicholas Nagel, who grew up in Avon and now lives in Pennsylvania, is part of the family for which Nagel Road is named.

He is currently selling three lots -- 3/4 of an acre each -- near the Nagel/Detroit Road intersection. Asking price for the trio of lots is $3 million.

''We've had the sign up since Memorial Day (2005),'' he said. ''It's been crazy. It went up on a Saturday. On Monday morning I got up and the telephone was ringing.

''We're optimistically waiting to see what happens (with the proposed interchange). The longer we wait, the price may go up. But we feel the value is there.''

Signs like Nagel's have become part of the landscape in the city. Northern Avon, which is largely zoned commercial and industrial, is currently home to the most ''for sale'' signs in the city.

Mayor Smith said he doesn't fault people for selling their land to developers.

''I would rather see the city as it was in 1948 when I was born,'' he said. ''But if you had a piece of property and you had 25 acres and there is a sewer in front of it, what would you do if a developer gave you more money than you ever dreamed you would get?''

Much of the commercial and industrial property in Avon is owned by real estate companies. For instance, Grubb & Ellis has more than 230 acres for sale, according to its Web site.

But sprinkled in between the large, professionally designed signs are the homemade and smaller ''For Sale By Owner'' signs advertising commercial property.

Some, like Nicholas Nagel, have had the land in their families for decades. Others bought land as an investment and are now trying to sell.

Still others, like Miller and the Conrads on 611, hope the same growth that has them looking to move helps sell their properties.

''If we sell, we sell. If we don't, we don't,'' said Don Conrad. ''Until then, I'll just sit on my porch and watch all the craziness go by.''

It's only going to get crazier. Due to past estimates, some worry that Avon could reach 60,000-80,000 residents, but Mayor Smith said the city will reach its peak at about 40,000.

''People who think (Avon's population is) going to hit 80,000 are going off the way things used to be,'' said Smith, who pointed out that during his first year as mayor he helped reduce the allowable number of houses and apartment units per acre. [An R5 zoning classification at 6 uits per acre has recently been proposed.] We were probably looking at having 60,000 people in the city,'' he said. ''There was no way we could afford that.''

For some longtime residents, though, even 40,000 people is hard to swallow. But as far as [Mayor] Smith is concerned, swallow it they must.

''We'd all like to hold on to the past as long as we can, and that's what some of the issues are about in Avon,'' he said. ''But the reality is that we are going to have 40-some thousand people in the city of Avon. It's either going to happen in the short term or in the longer term. But it's going to happen. And you better be prepared.''''

spatsko@morningjournal.com

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 4-30-06, by Bette Pearce

``North Ridgeville, Avon, Avon Lake explode with new houses as they become suburbs

Brett and Kelly Perry of Avon, both 33-year-old professionals who work in downtown Cleveland, became part of a statistic last year ' they are among the growing number of Americans leaving metropolitan areas in search of cheaper homes, lower taxes and better schools. "The drive is a little longer, and with gas prices right now, it's a little difficult, but it's well worth it," Brett Perry said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly every large metropolitan area, including Cleveland, had more people move out than move in between 2000 and 2004. In Cleveland's case, 12,000 people left the city in those four years -- about the same number that moved out between 1990 and 2000, the agency reported.

For years, people have been fleeing the cities for the suburbs. Now, they are fleeing the suburbs for the 'exurbs," the suburbs beyond the suburbs. And Cuyahoga County's loss is Lorain County's gain, especially the eastern border communities of Avon Lake, North Ridgeville and Avon, where new-home construction has been booming for the last five years.

"Nearly 3,000 new homes have been built in North Ridgeville since 2000, and we have another 4,000 already approved to be built," Mayor Dave Gillock said. 'We currently have 17 housing developments under way, and we're only about a third of the way through this housing boom."

William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., think tank, calls the trend "a case of middle class flight, a flight for housing affordability." The Perrys found affordability and everything else on their wish list in Avon where they bought a new Oster Homes house in the Willow Creek development -- only a 20-minute drive to the Perrys' jobs in downtown Cleveland. Brett Perry is an attorney; Kelly Perry is an executive with Sherwin-Williams who's on maternity leave. Their first child is due in June.

Relocating to Avon meant the Perrys could own a much larger home for a lot less money than they'd have to pay for a comparable house in a Cuyahoga County suburb, Brett Perry said. And, they got much lower property taxes, a good school system and a low-crime neighborhood to boot. Before the Perrys married a year ago, each owned a home in Cuyahoga County ' his in Lakewood, hers in Westlake.

"The city of Lakewood's residential property tax is just astronomical," Brett Perry said. Taxes on his Lakewood home, valued at half of his Avon house, cost $1,800 a half year. "We have a 3,000-square-foot, four-bedroom house with two and a half baths and a full basement on a corner lot in Avon and pay half the property taxes that we did in Lakewood. It's insane," Brett Perry said.

The Perrys paid $260,000 for their Avon house. About a mile east, just across the Cuyahoga County line, a very similar house is selling for $360,000, Perry said. "We're literally a stone's throw from the county line and you can get a house for tens of thousands less than in Westlake," he said ...

Tom Carleton, chief building official for Avon Lake, said the city granted a record 232 new-home permits in 2005. Meanwhile, Avon granted 344 and North Ridgeville, 539. Avon Lake is not only the smallest of the three boom towns ' 11.64 square miles compared to Avon's 20.9 and North Ridgeville's 23.4 ? but its property is also more expensive, with some lakefront homes selling for as much as $1 million. Therefore, its growth is not as explosive as the other two. "People are paying $400,000 for a vacant lot by the lake, and some homes on the lake go for $15 million, so it skews the average value of all homes," Carleton said.

While new-home construction is beginning to taper off in Avon and Avon Lake, it's exploding in North Ridgeville. Between 2002 and 2005, North Ridgeville issued 1,865 new-home permits, according to the city's building department. The city of Avon issued 1,533 new residential building permits between 2002 and 2005, and Avon Lake issued 758 new-home permits for the same period.

The three cities combined issued 4,156 new-home construction permits between 2002 and 2005, and all three cities have issued several hundred more permits this year. "It's a natural progression," Gillock, North Ridgeville's mayor, said. "Westlake and Avon Lake are pretty much filled up, and we're next in line. The location here is tremendous -- easy access to the interstate, near the airports, not far from the lake."

North Ridgeville also edges out Avon in affordability. The same 2,700-square-foot Oster home that sells in the $260s in North Ridgeville, sells in the $280s in Avon, according to Oster Homes' Web site. "We're quite competitive with our property taxes, and our income tax is only 1 percent, which makes us very competitive and very attractive. People can get a lot of house here for their money," Gillock said ...

If North Ridgeville has an advantage over Avon and Avon Lake in attracting new residents, Gillock believes it's due to a wider price range in the housing that's being built. "With 17 developments going up, you can find about anything you want -- homes from the $120s to $375,000 and on up," he said ...

Young professionals aren't the only ones buying new homes in Lorain County. Last year, the 1,000 homes built by Lorain-based Oster included several developments geared toward people 55 and older. "People are more conscious of staying close to their grandkids and being a part of their lives. Many of our buyers have family in the area, and they love Northeast Ohio," Oster Homes' Marketing Director Brian Zuccaro said. "But older buyers want resort-style amenities and maintenance-free living so we've taken the resort-style Florida and Arizona concept in retirement communities and brought it to Northeast Ohio." ...

2006 MARKET FORECAST

  • New single-family home starts in Lorain County will be about 1,700 for 2006, down 10 percent from last year. Starts for Erie and Huron counties should remain consistent with the last five years' history. Erie will be near 350 and Huron near 180.

  • The tri-county housing market will perform better than Northeast Ohio and the region. However, 2006 will likely feel slower than the past five years.

  • Higher land costs and interest rates will make development projects more expensive and will inhibit some risk-taking by buildings.

  • New home sales will slow due to more traditional underwriting, slightly higher mortgage rates, rising new home inventories and record household debt burden.

  • The price and availability of prime development land is becoming an increasing challenge.

  • Positive quality of life will continue to lure families from older, built-out urban areas, primarily Cuyahoga County.

    Source: North Coast Building Industry Association

    RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION

    Permits issued

    N.R. Avon Avon Lake

    2005 539 344 232

    2004 493 391 192

    2003 422 383 185

    2002 411 415 149

    Total 1,865 1,533 758

    4,156 total from 2002-05

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    Lorain Elyria

    2005 147 81

    2004 177 130

    2003 142 141

    2002 198 141

    Total 664 493''

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    COLUMN from The Press, 4-19-06, By Julie A. Short

    ``Short Takes

    ... Planning Commission has not been presented with any "new" housing developments in the past few months. That doesn't constitute the dozen or so developments that are already under construction bringing hundreds of new homes and thousands of future residents ...

    Of the existing (not "new" because they are already approved by the city and are currently under construction), here's a breakdown of how many homes will be constructed in total when each development is completed, only adding to our already crowded schools:

    Amberwood (144),

    Arlington Estates (236),

    Augusta Woods (24),

    Bentley Park (220),

    Briar Lakes (104),

    Cottage Gate (38),

    Fairfield Estates (40),

    Greenview Estates (34),

    Highland Park (433),

    Orchard Trail (162),

    Red Tail (651),

    Saddle Creek (38),

    Stonebridge (375),

    Village at Creekside (48),

    Village at Lakeside (26),

    Vineyard Estates (124),

    Willow Creek (165),

    Woodbridge (14),

    Napa (13),

    St. James Woods (66).

    Do the math folks. That's 2,955 homes. If each one of these houses has 2.5 kids in the school district ... that's 7,3876 kids ... ''

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    NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 5-10-06, By Beth Mlady

    ``School operating levy barely passes as seniors say 'no'

    AVON -- The good news: The school district's 1.9-mill no-tax-increase bond issue passed by more than 500 votes. The not-bad-but-surprising news: Avon's emergency operating levy passed, too, but of the 13 voting precincts in Avon, six turned thumbs down on the measure that appeared before residents on May 2 [2006].

    The 2.87-mill levy passed by a mere 177 votes of 4,100 votes cast in the Primary Election. In spite of the narrow margin of victory, school board president Angela Marsiglia and Superintendent Jim Reitenbach voiced their appreciation to residents for approving the measures ... [Marsiglia] did wonder, however, if the controversy that ensued with Avon City Council last year over the placement of a bus garage at Heritage North affected voters' opinions.

    "We went through a negative time with the bus garage this year; maybe it hurt us more (at the polls) than we thought," Marsiglia said ...

    Councilmen Dennis McBride and Dan Urban (Wards 2 and 4, respectively) were surprised when they learned of the levy's failure in precincts within their wards. Precincts A and B voted 'no' in Ward 4, and precincts B and C failed the levy in Ward 2. (Wards 1 and 3 each failed the measure in one precinct.) Ward 2 voted it down by 39 votes while Urban's ward managed to pass the measure overall with the help of precinct C's vote tally; it passed by a mere 14 votes in Ward 4. (The bond issue failed in two of the three precincts in McBride's ward as well.) ...

    When Urban was asked for his opinion on why the operating levy didn't fare well overall in his ward, he replied that "it is just a sign that it will be harder to pass school levies in the future." As for the difference between the passage of the bond issue by such a large margin and the small margin of victory for the operating levy and the message residents might be trying to send the district by such voting disparity ...

    Based on conversations with two Avon senior citizens, Urban may be right. Margaret Turner, 77, and Carole Cook, 75, both voted 'no' on the operating levy. Their reasons were identical and simple: they have no more money to give.

    "I feel sorry for the people who have just a little bit of money...the seniors who have to struggle to make ends meet," Turner said. "I'm not happy where the bus garage is going, and I worry about the elderly residents at St. Mary of the Woods and the school children who will be exposed to bus fumes."

    Turner, a 27-year resident of Avon, said that when she and her husband (a former school teacher) moved to the city, their taxes per six months were $498; today, that amount is $1,100. "This school board just puts a levy up every time they need money," Turner said. "It's hard when you're on a fixed income." ...

    Turner also mentioned a lack of communication ... Reitenbach confirmed that five separate mailings since February, including "Avon Avenues," the district's newsletter, were sent to all residents and contained levy and bond information.

    Cook, a retired educator, voted 'no' and wants a more responsible superintendent and school board. "I thought (Reitenbach) was over confident," Cook said. She explained that passing levies every couple of years has made it so that the school board and superintendent "don't have any incentive to try to live within their means."

    Cook also said that based on written accounts she had read over the last several months (in The Press and in"Avon Avenues"), Reitenbach seemed "pretty sure" the levy and bond issue would pass. "It got me rather upset...that he should feel that way," Cook said.

    Describing herself as a "very active 75," and a widow, Cook conveyed the reality that she has "no place to go for extra funds" when taxes rise. While she acknowledges that "something has to be done with state funding," she wants district administration to recognize that like other seniors in Avon, she "doesn't get a pay raise." Her fixed income, she said, means that "you just don't do as many things as you might want to do" in order to pay the bills.

    "People are getting tired of paying out all the time," Cook said. "I think the schools must really tighten their budgets as well."''

    More on the election results

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    NEWS ARTICLE from WTOP Radio, 3400 Idaho Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20016, 6-14-06, By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writer

    [Parents often unaware of kids' asthma risk]

    ``VIENNA, Austria (AP) - One in three fatal asthma attacks worldwide involves a child with a mild form of the disease, and nearly half of all parents are unaware of the risk ...

    "Many patients with asthma underestimate their disease severity and overestimate their degree of asthma control," the European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology warned ...

    Experts said that with each decade, the prevalence of asthma has increased 50 percent. Worldwide, more than 300 million people are afflicted, the Global Initiative for Asthma says. The World Health Organization said 255,000 people died from asthma in 2005 ...

    "Asthma is an enormous global health problem," said Dr. Nikolai Khaltaev of WHO's chronic respiratory diseases department ...

    Asthma is a chronic lung disease caused by airway inflammation, and certain stimuli cause the windpipe to become obstructed. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing and a tightened airway that causes shortness of breath and can be life-threatening ...

    Treatment for the condition costs society more than that for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS combined, the European Academy said. Its survey of 5,482 asthma patients, their doctors and the parents of young sufferers focused on cases in Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the United States ...

    Reducing or stopping treatment usually means a child's condition worsens, the report warned. "More than three-fourths of children who are not compliant with their asthma treatment all the time experience at least one of the following: increased symptoms (66 percent), limited physical activity (48 percent), nighttime awakenings (46 percent) and more frequent asthma attacks or exacerbations (40 percent)," it said ...

    Khaltaev said asthma is a preventable chronic respiratory disease with the most important risk factors including air pollution ...

    Associated Press writer Alexander G. Higgins contributed to this report from Geneva.''

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    ``[Part of the] Minutes of the Meeting of the [Avon Council] Legal Committee

    Thursday, April 20, 2006, 7:00 PM.

    Committee Members Present: Daniel Urban, Chairman; Craig Witherspoon

    Others in Attendance:

    Safety Director Robert Allen, Parks Director Gerald Galant, Law Director John Gasior, Planning Coordinator James Piazza

    Members of Landmarks Preservation Commission -- Carol Hartwig, Tom Wearsch

    Jack Smith, Resident

    Subject:

    To Refer an Ordinance to Planning Commission re: Landmarks Preservation Commission Amendment to Planning and Zoning Code

    Carol Hartwig stated that the last time the Landmarks Preservation Commission met was on December 15, 2005, with the Legal Committee of the previous Council. Jerry Gentz had drafted a couple of Ordinances and as she recalled, Mr. Gasior and Mr. Piazza were to review them. Mr. Piazza said he thought the main discussion at that meeting was: what are we going to do when there is a landmark? The Charter gives authority to delay issuing a razing permit up to six months so the Landmark Commission can assist or do whatever.

    Mr. Piazza said as he understood, Mr. Smith was the spokesman when the Ordinance was drafted and he wanted Planning Commission to almost freeze any kind of application going on. Mr. Smith responded only if the applicant requested a demolition permit.

    The logic behind it is this: Say a developer does not want to be bothered with a landmark; he just wants to bulldoze it and put his new development in. He knows that there is this possibility of being held up for six months getting rid of this landmark. He also knows it's going to take him about six months to get through Planning Commission so he immediately walks into the Landmarks Preservation Commission and applies for a demolition and then goes through the Planning process simultaneously and by the time he gets done through Planning Commission, he's got his development plans approved and he just knocks down the landmark.

    So what the Landmarks Preservation Commission proposes is that a developer can be proceeding through Planning Commission but the minute he walks in and applies for a demolition permit, Planning Commission stops all consideration of his project, and he has to run out the six months if the Landmarks Preservation Commission feels that landmark is worthy of holding him up. This puts a time pressure on the developer. He might be willing to spend five minutes to see how this landmark could fit into his development rather than just knock it down.

    Mr. Smith added that if the developer has already made up his mind that he is going to demolish the landmark, there isn't anything they can do about it; but if he suddenly realizes that he is going to lose six months if he doesn't think of something, he might think of something very creative, and the landmark is preserved; and his development is enhanced by maintaining some of Avon's traditional structures.

    Mr. Piazza stated that there is a law on the books that requires every tree over 12 inches in diameter on a site plan to be identified when it comes to Planning Commission and they try to work around those trees on the site plan. But the first thing somebody does when they purchase property before they come to Planning Commission is to cut down all the trees so it doesn't hold them up. When someone purchases property with a landmark on it before they present it to Planning for anything, they're going to ask for a permit to demolish.

    Mr. Smith pointed out the beautiful job that Joe Scaletta did with the Forthofer homestead. He turned that into his office and now it's a private structure in Avenbury. So he maintained the appearance of Detroit Road, and he maintained a landmark. Greg Romes has also done a beautiful job on the George Clifton house. He's made it his office; he's kept it in top shape, and he's cooperated; so there is a lot of good will possible out there. Mr. Smith said that he felt that given a little incentive, developers will do the right thing.

    Mr. Piazza stated that those two developers wanted to preserve those houses. What he has difficulty accepting is if somebody does want to tear a house down, we have a Charter amendment that says this is the procedure we follow -- six months. When we get this Community Reinvestment Area we will finally have something we can offer and that's going to be a big plus.

    When a developer comes in on one of these properties, they know way ahead of time what they're getting into; whether that's salvageable or not. We notify Landmarks Preservation Commission immediately of any property that is on that list, and we notify the applicant that he has to deal with Landmarks Preservation.

    Mr. Piazza said that he can relate it to wetlands delineation: the developer comes in, he's got wetlands, he goes out and gets delineation done. Planning Commission doesn't hold the process up; he goes through the process; he can't get building permits and approval until the wetland has been either mitigated or preserved. That isn't anything different than this. He said that Mr. Smith wants a hammer and Mr. Piazza doesn't think Planning Commission or the City for that matter should provide a hammer when the law is very clear.

    Mr. Smith responded that if you don't really care about preservation, that makes perfect sense. However, those who are concerned with retaining some of the heritage of Avon need some tools. The problem is that everything comes first to Planning Commission; it doesn't come to Landmarks Preservation Commission. It's in Planning Commission that a lot of these problems can be solved and a lot of the creative work can be done, convincing the developer that he ought to include the landmark in his development.

    By the time it comes to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, it's really almost too late because at that time somebody has decided they want to get a demolition permit. The object is to not let that train of thought mature; the developer needs an incentive to preserve the landmark.

    Mr. Piazza asked what incentive Planning Commission could provide, and Mr. Smith responded the incentive is to tell the developer that if he works on preserving the landmark, his process goes smoothly. Mr. Piazza felt that would be adversarial and Mr. Smith said it is not. He asked if it wasn't true in all sorts of ways, for example requiring certain curb heights, certain width of pavement, etc. If they don't comply with these things, they don't get approval. This is on that same level.

    "We're saying that preservation of Avon landmarks is as critical as having the right size sewer pipe. What we're saying specifically, is that if a developer intends to tear a landmark down and demonstrates that intent by going in for a demolition permit, then the Planning process stops; he is on his six months. If he is required to think about it a bit, he might be quite willing to save the landmark and make it part of the development. We don't want him coming in applying for a demolition permit."

    Mr. Piazza asked what if the developer says he is going to save it and then in a year from now, in phase 3, he says he is getting rid of it. Mrs. Hartwig stated that he then has to start all over again. Mr. Smith added it is not a panacea; he is talking about a specific class of case, where the developer comes into Planning Commission, there is a landmark on his project, and he hasn't really thought about what he is going to do.

    Mr. Urban asked why Landmarks Preservation Commission is not talking to the developer right away when notified by Planning Commission that there is a landmark on the property. Mr. Smith responded that the developer may not want to talk to them, and there is nothing that requires him to talk to them; he may have decided to preserve the landmark.

    Mr. Urban asked so what is the issue? Mr. Smith answered that the issue is maybe the developer hasn't even thought about what he is going to do; he presents a plan to Planning Commission showing a street right through where the landmark is.

    Mr. Urban stated "so if he wants to save it, he's going to save it and Landmarks Preservation Commission is happy. If he wants to demolish it, you are going to know about it and you have your opportunity to convince him otherwise." Mr. Smith said yes, but the point is that if he wants to demolish it, he walks in to Planning Commission October 1st and walks in on October 2nd to Landmarks Preservation Commission and requests a demolition permit and Planning goes on and runs him through and when Planning is finished up, he's got his demolition permit and he didn't waste five minutes.

    Mr. Gasior pointed out that the developer can't take the landmark down for six months, and the Planning process could be over in one month.

    Mr. Urban stated that if this becomes something that is on the books there is an unintended consequence. You have a developer who isn't sure what he wants to do with a landmark or he wants to preserve a landmark. But because this is on the books, he is just going to cover himself and go in right away for a demolition permit.

    Mr. Smith stated that Greg Romes hasn't knocked down the Avon Center School yet or the Schneider House. He could any day, but he hasn't. Mrs. Hartwig added that Mr. Romes has tried to sell the Schneider House; he's offered it free; he has done anything he possibly could. The six months is up so he is free to demolish that [Schneider House]. She stated that when it comes to the school house that's going to be a problem. He has not applied for a demolition permit [for the Avon Center School] yet. Mrs. Hartwig said that she would like the City to buy the school house.

    Mr. Wearsch stated that at the very least there could be an Ordinance that says that Planning Commission can't take final action on a development approval until the landmark issue is resolved. Basically it's going to happen anyway because they can't move ahead on development until the demolition occurs. Mr. Piazza felt that would be no different than wetlands; Planning cannot approve a development with wetlands without a mitigation from the EPA but we don't stop their process.

    Mr. Wearsch stated that there is no requirement at the present time that if a person comes in with a development plan that they have to identify a historical structure on the site. In his mind those are the two issues: 1. it has to be identified and 2. development approval can't be had until that [demolition] issue is resolved.

    Mr. Gasior said that he has a problem with how you determine when all the issues are resolved. Say that a person comes in with a plan on which there is a historical structure. He does not want to save it, and so he goes to the Landmarks Preservation Commission and submits his application to demolish it. The Commission holds a meeting. In the meantime the Planning Commission says we can't give you any approvals until you take care of this.

    It could take a couple months to get the decision from Landmarks. [Say] they deny him. Why can't Planning Commission at that point grant him final approval because he's done what he needs to do. He cannot demolish the building but he has done everything he needs to do. Mr. Wearsch said that he understood what Mr. Gasior was saying but if that is in the third month of the entire process, it still gives us three months to work something out.

    Mr. Gasior added that it might be one of the buildings that did get approval for demolition. The developer can come in and say I got my approval but if he comes in and says I've got my approval or I don't have my approval, [he can say] I have my adjudication.

    Mr. Wearsch stated that the ordinance could be written that way. If there is no action or denial, then you run the course. Mr. Gasior said yes, he still has to wait. Mr. Piazza added that it is one of the things that must be done before Planning approval. Planning has to have proof of a demolition permit on a landmark; if the developer doesn't have it, it's like we don't have a wetland mitigation and we can't grant final approval.

    Mr. Urban summarized that the action plan is for Mr. Piazza and Mr. Gasior to get together, and Mr. Gasior will draft an ordinance to be circulated. Then we'll get back together one more time in Legal Committee, review it, make whatever changes, and then refer it to Council.

    NOTE: Bob Gates of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, had just arrived as he mistakenly thought the meeting started at 7:30.''

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