Avon Growth News, 5-26-99 to 5-31-99

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5-26-99 Special meeting fees for developers
5-27-99 Avon, hotel clash on road
5-27-99 Red Tail golf tunnel
5-28-99 North Coast Bearings


"Housing boom hits county; still below years past

ELYRIA-- The county is in the midst of a housing boom, but it's still a far cry from the booms of the 1950, 1960s and 1970s, according to a recent study.

The study was prepared by the Joint Center for Policy Research of the Public Services Institute at Lorain County Community College at the request of the North Coast Building Industries Association.

During this decade, an average of 1,031 new homes have been built per year in the county. That number is up significantly from the 1980s, when about 928 new homes were constructed per year.

But the figures from the 1990s do not even begin to approach the healthy numbers of the 1950, 1960s and 1970s.

An average of 2,024 new homes were built each year in the 1950s; 1,923 were built per year in the 1960s; and 2,197 were built each year in the 1970s.

Nevertheless, Bob Sexton, executive officer of the North Coast Building Industries Association, said these are good times for builders in Lorain County.

"I think you can attribute most of it to having had about eight strong years of a good economy,'' Sexton said. "Also, interest rates for homes have been very attractive. During the '80s, it was as high as 18 or 19 percent for a mortgage interest loan. Now it's between 5 and 7 percent.''

County Auditor Mark Stewart said several other factors probably have contributed to the recent proliferation of new homes in the county.

"There's cheaper land to develop than the adjoining counties (have),'' Stewart said. "I think the good transportation would be another reason. They can work in Cuyahoga County and live in Lorain County, earning higher wages in Cuyahoga County and having the benefits of lower housing costs in Lorain County.''

The study also predicted that about 10,000 new homes will be needed in the county in the next decade to accommodate an anticipated population increase of 16,120 people during that time.

But all the new homes have not led to increased enrollment at county schools. In fact, enrollment decreased by about 500 students between 1994 and 1997.

Sexton offered an explanation for that situation ...

He said many of those empty-nesters are moving into new homes within the county.

Sexton also said many younger people are moving away from Lorain County because they are looking for opportunities elsewhere.

Stewart added that many childless professionals are moving into new homes in the county.

Some other information from the study:

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"Avon may raise special meeting fees for developers

AVON -- Building subdivisions and shopping centers could cost developers a few hundred dollars more if they want the city planning board to schedule special meetings to review and approve their projects.

According to the city charter, Planning Commission is only required to meet once a month, but the board has held meetings nearly every Wednesday to accommodate developers who want to break ground early in the construction season.

The extra meetings, for which a developer pays $300, cost the city at least that much money in fees paid to its planning secretary and legal advisor, said Planning Commission Chairman Jim Piazza. To recoup the cost, the board is considering raising the fee for a special meeting to at least $500 per meeting.

''We're trying to make it more difficult,'' Piazza said. ''We seem to be getting more and more requests for special meetings.''

But even if the fee were raised to $1,000, Piazza said many developers would be willing to pay that much in order to have their projects approved more quickly.

''Developers get under the gun in early spring because they all want to break ground when the weather is nice,'' Piazza said. ''I think if these guys want to do it, $300 or $500, or $1,000, is not going to mean anything to a multi-million dollar development. If they can pick up a week or two on a construction start, they're going to do it.''

In the nearly six years he's been on Planning Commission, Piazza said the board has never refused to hold a special meeting. And if it started denying such requests now, Piazza said developers would accuse the board of being ''discriminatory.''

So the frequent meetings are bound to continue -- at least as long as the new homes continue to be built at a record-setting pace in Avon ..."

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"Avon, hotel clash on road

AVON -- Hotel developers argued with Planning Commission members last night over who should pay to relocate the west end of Chester Road so that it connects with Colorado Avenue farther away from the busy I-90 interchange.

Both sides agreed traffic would be improved if the western end of Chester Road were moved, but they disagreed over who should foot the bill, which could run as high as $300,000.

The developers, who want to build a Fairfield Inn and Shell gas station next to the McDonald's on Colorado, said they have already agreed to pay for most of the road, which will cost them about $400,000 extra.

''To ask us to do more, the only word I can say is that it's inappropriate,'' said Jim Blaszak of Lodging Industries.

Some planning commission members, however, reasoned that Lodging Industries should pay for the additional stretch of road because the firm could end up gaining free land once the current portion of Chester Road is abandoned.

If the roadway is not relocated, both Chester Road and the new hotel development would exit onto Colorado Avenue within 300 feet of each other, creating a situation the police chief said would be unsafe.

In the end, Planning Commission agreed the city should pay for the additional construction costs, but board members said they don't know when the work would be done ...

Before Planning Commission can take final action on the project, Lodging Industries must work out final legal and engineering details. City Council must also approve the plans and the expenditure.

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 5-27-99, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer

"Red Tail golf tunnel plan in rough

AVON -- Developers of the Red Tail golf course want to build a tunnel under Lear-Nagle Road to allow golf carts to drive between the east and west sections of the course, but city planners fear the construction would create an unsafe hump on Lear-Nagle Road.

The problem, discussed at last night's Planning Commission meeting, stems from the fact the tunnel can not be built deeper because of a water main beneath the road. In order for the tunnel to be constructed, the pavement must first be elevated.

But if Lear-Nagel Road is raised too high, it will create the ''Red Tail Roller Coaster,'' said City Engineer Gar Downing, who envisions cars speeding down the road at 50 mph and then hitting the hump.

Pete Restivo, a representative for Red Tail, said cars are simply driving too fast on the road. The posted speed limit is 35 mph.

''They shouldn't be running up and down that road at 50 mph.'' Restivo said, adding that signs are needed to support the slower speed limit.

To solve the problem, Planning Commission suggested developers spread the road incline out over 700 feet instead of 500 feet, which would create a more gradual rise, Planning Commission Chair Jim Piazza said. It will also include guardrails ..."

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 5-28-99, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer

"Avon lures firm from Westlake

AVON -- Avon has lured North Coast Bearings from Westlake to a 16-acre site on Jaycox Road, despite cutting its originally proposed tax break by nearly $30,000 a year.

City Council is expected to review the tax abatement offer briefly on Tuesday, and approve the measure two weeks later. Avon Mayor Jim Smith said he feels ''very good about it passing.''

Avon bested both Reno, Nev., and Westlake to snag the growing company ...

Avon originally offered the truck parts company a 45 percent tax break for both real and personal property, and the firm was ready to accept the offer, despite Westlake's proposed 100 percent abatement to remain in Westlake.

''They couldn't offer us the same type of land,'' said John Gross, chief financial officer of North Coast Bearings. ''And it would have been a lot more expensive in Westlake.''

The company was ready to take Avon's offer when the Ohio Department of Development refused to approve the abatement, claiming it was ''unfair,'' said Mayor Smith.

Based on the state's ruling, Avon removed the abatement for the company's $3.4 million inventory. Avon will now charge the ball-bearings company about $64,000 in taxes a year on that inventory alone, Smith said.

Avon then upped the tax cut on both real estate and new inventory to 55 percent, but the final tally still leaves the company paying $90,989 a year in taxes as opposed to the $62,588 a year under the original tax abatement, Smith said.

North Coast Bearings is a good pick for an abatement, Smith said.

''We do not offer tax abatements to companies that don't have a growth record, and we won't give them to buildings that won't be here for 50 years,'' he said, describing a ''state of the art'' building to add to Avon's growing industrial sector.

The new 62,000 foot facility uses just over half of the 16 acres the company acquired, leading Smith to speculate they will be around for awhile.

''If you have property you can expand on, you can't get an abatement in another area,'' he explained.

Gross said the company expects to grow from 46 to 58 employees within three years.

''We plan to be in Avon for a long time,'' he said.

Avon has used abatements in the past to woo industry, and North Coast Bearings is the fifth Westlake company to jump to Avon in five years. The company has been in Westlake at least 13 years, Gross said.

Avon's tax revenues have grown from $350,000 to $2 million in the last six years, creating 1,000 new jobs. Those dollars have been necessary to keep even with the city's residential growth.

Since residents who work outside Avon do not pay city income tax, each new resident is a drain on city services. With an average of 250 new houses built each year, Smith said the city must hustle hard to attract industry.

''I don't like abatements. Nobody likes abatements,'' Smith said. ''But that's the climate we're in. We have to be competitive.''

Avon still has 2,400 acres of vacant land with the necessary utilities for industrial use, Smith said."

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