Avon Growth News, 5-1-99 to 5-25-99

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5-11-99 Betzel Park
5-25-99 Building is booming in Lorain County
5-25-99 Lorain County retaining farmland


"Avon could get nature preserve

AVON -- ... the latest new development to hit Avon could be a 100-acre nature preserve.

And the best part of the deal, said Mayor Jim Smith, is that it won't cost Avon a cent. The unsolicited park proposal, which arrived on Smith's desk Tuesday, came from a non-profit group formed to preserve and create wetlands across the state.

Based in Columbus, the Ohio Wetlands Foundation works with developers, who must pay money into a fund used to create new wetlands if they want to build on land with areas designated as wetlands by the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers. The trade is called wetlands mitigation.

Because Avon has no land specifically set aside for the creation of new wetlands, developers who build on wetlands in Avon end up paying money into a fund used to create nature parks in other cities such as North Ridgeville.

That could all change, however, if the Ohio Wetlands Foundation joins forces with Avon.

''If the City of Avon is serious about wanting wetlands, we would be happy to build a mitigation bank in the city,'' said Jim Sutliff, the president of the Ohio Wetlands Foundation. ''I need a site badly. And we'd love to be up there with a site that is serving the Avon area.''

Sutliff said his group would pay for the land and all of the work done on it. Once the park is complete, it would be turned over either to the city or to the Lorain County Metro Parks.

The one caveat is that the land must have good soil, be flat, and must cost less than $5,000 an acre, Sutliff said.

''They want land that's cheap,'' Smith said. ''But if we can find a piece of property that's in the right price range, it could work. We'd be interested in it. We'd definitely be interested in it.''

Once the new wetlands are built, Sutliff said they form a stable ecosystem.

''After you get the water and the plants, the wildlife comes back,'' he said. ''It migrates there from other locations. You get very healthy wetlands and everything stays in balance."

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"Avon council OKs plans for 62-acre park

AVON -- Preliminary plans for a 62-acre park -- including ball fields, walking trails and a skateboarding area -- were approved by City Council last night.

Located on Detroit Road opposite Moon Road, the park will have amenities for all ages, but is being planned with special features for teen-agers, said Park Board Member David Mast.

With that goal in mind, the park board sent surveys to Avon High School students and received 250 responses. Mast said some of the results were ''startling.''

''There's nothing for kids to do here,'' he said.

That should change, however, once the park is built. In addition to eight baseball fields, two basketball courts, three soccer fields and one volleyball court, the park will have a mountain bike trail, a court for roller hockey and a park for skateboarders.

Other plans for the park include a nature trail, an asphalt bike trail, a pond, picnic areas, playground equipment, four tennis courts, horse shoe pits, shuffleboard courts and a concession stand.

While the finances have not been worked out, Councilman Jack Kilroy said many park improvements have been paid for by home builders, who pay more than $600 into a park fund for each home they build.

''This is a case where the home building industry has generated all the money,'' Kilroy said.

City Council must also approve the final park plans, which will be complete after an estimated $50,000 worth of engineering work is done, Mast said.

In addition to the new park, council also began the process of changing the city's master plan to include a network of 8-foot wide asphalt trails that would be put in by developers as subdivisions are built. The trail plan, to be used for walking, biking and in-line skating, must have three readings by council.

Planning Commission member Paul Burik said it's smart to start now and have the trails put in as the city is developed.

''I think it's great,'' he said. ''We've taken a proactive move, so we don't have to try to retro-fit the trail later on.''"

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 5-25-99, By MICHAEL ZAWACKI, Morning Journal Business Writer

"Building is booming in Lorain County

Lorain County's unprecedented housing boom over the last 10 years will create jobs and generate revenue in the local economy for at least the next decade, according to a recent building trade study.

About 1,031 new homes were constructed in Lorain County per year throughout the 1990s, according to a North Coast Building Industry Association [BIA] sanctioned report, and another 10,000 units are expected for the upcoming decade.

The North Coast BIA, in conjunction with the Joint Center for Policy Research Public Services Institute at Lorain County Community College, compiled ''A Housing, Economic Impact and Land Use Analysis for Lorain County 1999'' utilizing both local, regional, and national data sources.

The study analyzes construction and economic figures primarily from this decade, but at times compared recent data with figures from 20 years ago to chart long-term growth.

North Coast BIA conducted the study to compile up-to-date data and figures on trends in Lorain County's housing industry, said Bob Sexton, the group's executive director. This will not be an annual report, he said.

While below the national average for construction, Lorain County remains above the regional average for new housing starts, according to the report's findings.

Sexton said this points to Lorain County's popularity as a suburban bedroom community, with half of all population growth occurring in Avon Lake, Avon, and North Ridgeville.

New single family homes built in Lorain County have an average price of $200,486, and are built on lots with an average value of $30,073, according to the report.

Avon Lake had the highest average sale price for new homes at $283,642, according to the study. In terms of highest average sale price, Avon Lake was followed by Vermilion at $229,466, according to the study.

Sheffield Township had the lowest average sale price of $82,000, followed by LaGrange Township at $113,059, according to the report.

The North Coast BIA further reports that Lorain County's housing industry has had a decisive impact on the local economy and its job market. For example:

Based on current trends, the report makes substantial projections for continued housing growth in Lorain County over the next decade, including:

The housing boom's impact on schools did not reveal itself to be a prime contributor to increases in school enrollment, according to the study's findings.

''We felt, like most people, that an increase in housing equals an increase in students,'' Sexton said. ''But our analysis has found the opposite to be true.''

The report looked at 4,000 new housing permits issued between 1994 and 1997, and compared those to school enrollment from that same time period. Instead of an increase, the study found school enrollments declined in Lorain County by 500 students during that time period.

Sexton said this trend may indicate an influx of ''empty nesters'' -- or older adults without children -- moving into the area.

However, the study did indicate a significant impact between new housing starts and school funding. The construction boom generated about $488 million in residential property tax revenue between 1990 and 1997 for local schools, according to the report.

The school districts that received the most revenue from residential property tax between 1990-97 were Lorain, $89.8 million; Elyria, $83.7 million; and North Ridgeville, $54.4 million, according to the report.

Lorain County school districts in 1997 received about $1.4 million in revenue generated from new home sales, according to report data.

In 1997, according to the report, the school districts that received the most revenue from new home construction were Avon, $409,091; Avon Lake, $236,307; and North Ridgeville, $116,563.

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 5-25-99, By MICHAEL ZAWACKI, Morning Journal Business Writer

"Lorain County retaining farmland

Despite an ongoing housing boom, Lorain County has retained a large portion of its farmlands in comparison to other counties in Ohio, according to a recent study.

The acreage of farmland in Lorain County has decreased by 11.6 percent between 1982 and 1997, or about 1,145 acres per year, according to a report compiled by the North Coast Building Industry Association.

But in comparison to seven other Ohio counties in this region, Lorain County lost the second least amount of farm acreage behind Lake County (9 percent) from 1982 to 1992, according to the North Coast BIA study.

Cuyahoga County ranked highest for losing the most farmland between 1982 and 1992, and reported a 52 percent decline in acreage, according to the report.

Bob Sexton, North Coast BIA executive director, said the report shows that the loss of farmland in Lorain County was not as severe as many believed ...

While farmland has decreased, the study found that the average size of a Lorain County farm has steadily increased about 21 percent from 133 acres in 1982 to 168 acres in 1997.

Sexton admitted what many [FARMERS] in Lorain County have been lamenting for some time, that they will be facing uncertainty in the next decade, with lower profits and land prices.

''Even if we weren't seeing an increase in demand for new homes in Lorain County I think there would be a decrease in farmlands,'' Sexton said. ''Farmers are suffering right now because they don't receive a good profit for their crops ..."

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