Avon Growth News, 4-14-02 to 6-5-02

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4-29-02: Support the fire levy
5-1-02: Escape to Avon Lake
5-30-02: Green begets Green
6-5-02: National Electric Code could violate Constitution

NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 4-2-02, By Brad Dicken

``Extension of Route 83 would cut out curves

AVON -- The confusion and congestion that plagues drivers where state Route 83 and Chester Road meet might be coming to an end.

City officials are considering a plan to straighten 83 to bypass two turns.

Mayor James Smith said he wants the city to buy about 10 acres from the Ohio Department of Transportation and use it to create a curved road that will run into Center Street north of Chester and south of Schneider Court.

It would go straight past City Hall and dead-end about 200 yards across from Schneider's Court, he said.

SR83
ED BETZEL/CHRONICLE GRAPHIC

The city has a small right of way that could be used to connect the ODOT land to Route 83.

The proposed extension would curve east after it passed to the west of City Hall in what is now a gravel parking lot and woods. Smith said that easement might have to be extended slightly, but no buildings would be torn down. We can probably bend that over to 83, he said.

The city has discussed the purchase of the land with ODOT in the past.

Smith said he wants to get the project under way this year.

ODOT District 3 spokeswoman Beth Wilson said the state agency would not be involved in the project other than selling the property to the city. But ODOT's planning department is reviewing the city's proposal to reconstruct the roadway ...

The last price ODOT quoted to the city was about $25,000 per acre, and Wilson said she did not know the most recent asking price.

If the project goes forward, Smith said the city will keep Center Road open and hopefully change the extension it builds into Route 83 ...''

Contact Brad Dicken at bdicken@chronicletelegram.com

NEWS ARTICLE from The PRESS, 5-15-02, By Mike Ferrari

``SR 83 extension plans speeding along

AVON -- Several weeks ago, Avon Mayor Jim Smith said he had a plan that could alleviate some of the traffic problems that occur along SR 83 and Chester Road. In what appeared to be a deal that was going to be made a long way off in the distance, it recently entered the fast lane.

Talks with ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation) took place last week in Ashland, as Smith and other members of the administration attended a meeting to express their desires to acquire a 10-acre parcel of land that sits adjacent to city hall off of Chester Road.

"We are in the process of purchasing the land at a very good rate and good price for the city," Smith said. "We do not have a final price for the land yet and won't until the final drawings and negotiations are complete."

According to Smith the property is listed at a cost of $250,000. However, as part of a suggestion that was made by ODOT officials, the price could be reduced depending on how much of the total land will be used as a state route.

Smith said his intentions and ideas for the property would be to build another large street to help alleviate some of the traffic problems along the SR 83 and Chester Road intersections.

That is where ODOT officials brought up a concept that could save the city money. Should five acres of the land be dedicated as a state route for traffic, the city of Avon would only have to pay for five of the 10-acre parcel of land.

Mike Bramhall, city engineer is currently in the process of working with Avon Council President Tom Wearsch and planning commission members to form a solid plan to help the traffic problems.

Bramhall will design and create maps based on council and planning commission's direction, and after approved by both entities, submit the proposal to ODOT in the hopes of obtaining the final sale ...''

NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 5-16-02, By Brad Dicken

``Avon may get discount on ODOT land

AVON -- The Ohio Department of Transportation may cut the price of 10 acres Avon wants to buy for a proposed rerouting of state Route 83 by up to 60 percent, Mayor Jim Smith said.

Smith said he met with ODOT officials last week and they told him the agency would probably only charge for the 50 to 60 percent of the property that would be used for the road as long as a Lorain County Transit Park-and-Ride lot is maintained.

"Whatever we put the road on we get for free," he said ...

"We want to get the trucks off the intersection [at Chester Rd.]," Smith said.

Beth Wilson, a spokeswoman for ODOT District 3, said the agency will not determine if the new road will officially become Route 83 until after it has seen the traffic studies and plans. The city has not yet completed either.

"We're still trying to work out a mutually beneficial agreement," she said.

Smith said at some point in the future, the new road could be further straightened and taken into Avon Lake where it could link up with Pin Oak Parkway. Then improvements would become the responsibility of Avon Lake.

"When it gets to where they are ready, they've got to pull it across the tracks," he said.''

Contact Brad Dicken at bdicken@chronicletelegram.com

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 4-29-02, By Brad Dicken

``Avon needs levy to improve fire services

AVON -- Upgrading from a part-time, volunteer fire department to a full-time department is an expensive proposition.

It's one of the reasons Avon is asking for a replacement levy that will cost homeowners slightly more than the 5-year-old levy that is expiring.

"With this levy we ve been trying to lower homeowner's insurance," Chief Frank Root Jr. said. "It looks a lot better for industry to come into the city."

The fire levy, at 0.5 mills over five years, will cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $15 a year and is expected to generate $180,000 a year for the Fire Department.

Root said he hopes the department will be able to purchase an aerial ladder truck that will provide better fire protection for factories and large homes ...

The department is also going to need a new ambulance to replace one bought a decade ago.

"Call volume has increased so much we re going to need a new squad," Root said.

The city approved an income tax last year to help pay for a full-time firefighting force ...

The city began collecting taxes on the first of the year ...

Avon Mayor James Smith said the tax pulls in the money to cover salaries and other expenses, but doesn't cover equipment and other capital costs.

"The income tax does not generate enough money to pay for the equipment the department needs," Root said.

Root said he hopes voters understand the need to make sure the department is properly equipped and will support the replacement levy like they did the income tax measure.

"We re certainly concerned that we're coming back so soon," he said. "(But) basically, it's the cost of doing business." ''

Contact Brad Dicken at bdicken@chronicletelegram.com

NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 5-1-02, By Brad Dicken

``Avon police ask for equipment funds via levy

AVON -- The police department is asking residents to renew a levy that will pay for equipment.

"We hope the citizens feel we've spent the money wisely," Chief John Vilagi said.

Money from the levy can be used only for equipment, Vilagi said, which means it doesn't go to pay officers or for training. Funds from the levy keep police vehicles in working condition and update video and audio equipment in cars and the like.

The levy, which will bring in $120,000 for the department is approximately .32 mills and will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $9.82 a year ...

The department will also update its computers, surveillance equipment in the station and add laptop computers to the department's cars.

Despite his insistence that the department needs only to update the police station right now, Vilagi acknowledges its current location, in the old city hall, was never meant to be a permanent location.

"Over the next three to five years we will need a new facility," he said. "This building will not be able to house us much longer."

Where the money for a new building will come from or where it will be located remains up in the air. But for the time being, Vilagi said the department would be fine as long as it can count on the voters to help keep it operating on the same budget as before.

Contact Brad Dicken at bdicken@chronicletelegram.com

5-7-02 ELECTION RESULTS

Issue 1 Lorain County JVS - Renewal,.75 Mill, Current Expenses, 5 years

For: 12,012

Against: 8,082

Issue 6 Avon City - Replacement, 0.5 Mill, Fire Apparatus/Improvements, 5 years

For: 952

Against: 420

Issue 7 Avon City - Renewal, 0.5 Mill, Police Department/Maint. Motor Vehicles, 5 years

For: 989

Against: 375

Issue 8 Avon City - Natural Gas Aggregation

For: 882

Against: 436

Issue 9 Avon City Precint 2-A - Local Option, Sunday Sales

For: 128

Against: 49

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NEWS ARTICLE from The PRESS, 5-1-02, By Lori E. Switaj

``Ford expected to build Escape at Avon Lake plant

Deal will cement $140 million investment by auto manufacturer

AVON LAKE -- Ford Motor Co. is expected to announce today [5-1-02] the Ford Escape, a small sport-utility vehicle, will be built at Avon Lake's Ohio Assembly Plant. According to sources close to the agreement, Ford will begin manufacturing the vehicle in approximately June of 2003 and a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) version of the Escape in mid-2004.

The hybrid will mark one of the first of its kind built in the United States. Other hybrid vehicles are currently imported from Europe.

Presently, the Escape is built only in Kansas City, Mo., but the location cannot produce enough of the popular vehicles, spurring Ford's increased production in Avon Lake. The Ohio Assembly Plant is expected to produce 25,000 to 35,000 of the traditional gas-only vehicles in 2003 and up to 50,000 to the hybrid vehicles per year, starting in two years.

"The goal for the next five years is a flexible capacity to build 90,000 units," Avon Lake Mayor Rob Berner said ...

Berner, who was involved with the agreement on a local level, said the move should provide job security for 2,000 Ford employees for the next 20 years. Twelve hundred jobs will be retained and 800 laid off workers will be recalled ... ''

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FEATURE ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 5-30-02, By Sheila Grissett, Newhouse News Service

``Trees bear nature's peace plan

Science has long recognized trees as royalty in the ecosystem: They cleanse air and water of pollutants, mitigate extreme temperatures and reduce erosion, flooding and storm damage - all while giving food and sanctuary to wildlife.

Now there's growing evidence that green space so profoundly affects the spirit and psyche that trees actually might be playing as great a role in human nature as in Mother Nature.

"Urban greenery is important psychologically; it provides a safety valve, giving respite from the constant tension imposed by the built environment," says Charles Lewis, author of "Green Nature Human Nature." ...

Social scientists say this release manifests itself in myriad ways, from improved relationships in schools, neighborhoods and families to reduced potential for aggression and road rage among American motorists.

But perhaps most dramatic are new studies showing that city dwellers given even low doses of green - maybe a solitary shade tree and grass patch outside the door - are more likely to make friends of their neighbors and less likely to become victims of violence or to commit crimes themselves.

"Before we started our research, I would have said trees are nice, but the problems we're facing in our cities and our budgets are such that I'm not sure they're worth it," said Frances Kuo, a co-founder with Bill Sullivan of the Human-Environment Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois. "I have become convinced that trees are really an important part of a supportive, humane environment. Without vegetation, people are very different beings." ...

But a few central parks scattered about a city aren't enough. Sullivan and Kuo agree with behaviorists and others recommending that cities be designed "with nature at every doorstep" to provide the regular doses of green needed to make a substantial difference in human behavior.

University of Washington research scientist Kathy Wolf recently took a much different look at trees in urban life - asking if they affect shopping habits - and she came away convinced that green actually begets green.

In fact, Wolf suggests all retail businesses might want to consider adding nature to every door and parking lot.

Her research in a string of major cities from the Northwest to the Southeast showed that consumers do some extraordinary things under the influence of trees, including: drive extra miles to shop in well-landscaped areas, pay more to park when they get there if it's shaded parking and spend an average of 11 percent more for their purchases ...

Ironically, most of the business owners she polled said they thought trees and green space don't really matter to shoppers.

Wolf said that kind of mistaken thinking triggers what she calls the "midnight murder" of trees by merchants, who then lay their decisions on everything from "messy" birds to potential cat burglars looking for a way to the roof.

In reality, she said, businesses that cut down good trees are chopping away at their own bottom lines ...''

Contact Sheila Grissett at sgrissett@timespicayune.com

NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 6-5-02, By Kristin Yarbrough

``Median income rises around area

ELYRIA -- Migration of high-income earners boosted median household income levels in places like Penfield and Pittsfield townships over the past decade but slowed income growth in places like Elyria and Lorain.

The median household income in Penfield Township rose 28 percent in the past decade -- from $55,167 in 1989 to $70,747 in 1999, according to newly released statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. Income levels for 1989 are adjusted for inflation ...

Likewise, Avon's median household income jumped 22 percent in the past decade -- from $54,545 in 1989 to $66,747 in 1999.

The numbers show more evidence of urban migration into the suburbs, said Ron Twining, community development director for Lorain County ...

The Cleveland metropolitan area has maintained about the same population level, but residents continue to move out of the city, Twining said. These people keep their jobs in urbanized areas but are moving farther into the country.

Though Avon isn't exactly rural, it has easy highway access to Cleveland, and its mayor and city council are growth-friendly and growth-savvy, Twining said.

Communities such as Penfield Township and Avon have seen an influx of upper-income residents, said Mark Salling, a demographer and director of the Northern Ohio Data and Information Service Center at Cleveland State University ...

Avon's population grew by 50 percent between 1990 and 2000 from 7,337 to 11,446.

Penfield Township's population grew by 28 percent in the past decade -- from 1,312 in 1990 to 1,690 in 2000.

By contrast, Elyria saw a 1 percent decrease in population between 1990 and 2000 -- from 56,746 to 55,953. The city also saw a 9 percent increase in median household income -- to $38,159 in 1999 from $35,062 in 1989.

Lorain also lost 4 percent of its residents during the 90s, from 71,245 in 1990 to 68,652 in 2000.

Educational attainment also played a role in household income in several communities.

More than 22 percent of Avon residents hold a bachelor's degree, 9.7 percent have earned a professional or graduate degree and 90.8 percent are high school graduates.

By comparison, 6.5 percent of Lorain residents have earned bachelor's degrees, 3.4 percent hold graduate or professional degrees and 74.3 percent are high school graduates.''

Contact Kristin Yarbrough at kyarbrough@chronicletelegram.com

NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 6-4-02, By J.P. SULLIVAN, Morning Journal Writer

``County in Ohio's top 10 richest

LORAIN -- The results are in and communities like Avon and Avon Lake are starting to overtake old guard cities like Beachwood and Rocky River in terms of household income and wealth.

Yesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau released its year 2000 demographic profile and income results showing the median household incomes for cities, counties and townships throughout the state of Ohio ...

In Lorain County, Avon led with median household income of $66,747, [Among cities? -- Penfield Township came in at $70,747] higher than Beachwood and Rocky River, which reported $65,406 and $51,636 respectively.

Avon Lake was close behind at $65,988, while North Ridgeville's median was $54,482 and Amherst at $53,516.

As a whole, Lorain County had a median household income of $45,042, which put it in the highest 10 of all of Ohio's 88 counties. Delaware County, north of Columbus, led at around $60,000.

Erie County came in at $42,744 while Huron County's median income was $40,552.

In terms of larger communities, Lorain came in at $33,917 while Elyria was at $38,156. Sandusky finished at $31,133 while Norwalk came in at $37,778.''

NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 6-6-02, By Christina Jolliffe

``Officials dispute suburb ranking

ELYRIA -- Six Lorain County cities are included in a Cleveland Magazine survey ranking suburbs, but some local officials are not happy with the results.

The magazine's 10th annual survey is included in its June issue, and this year as in years past, some local officials say the results aren't accurate.

Avon, Avon Lake, Elyria, Lorain, North Ridgeville and Sheffield Lake were ranked in the magazine's survey rating suburban cities in and surrounding Cuyahoga County.

Avon was rated number 49 of 65 in safety, which Avon Police Chief John Vilagi called a crock.

"I call them every year to complain about this," Vilagi said. "One of the big reasons there is such a disparity is that different departments report things in different ways."

The 65 communities are rated based on education, safety, housing appreciation, property taxes, environmental infractions, community services, crime and poverty level and diversity.

But the safety statistics are skewed, Vilagi said, because different police departments use different crime reporting systems.

"We respond to any call and any complaint, take a report and keep it on file regardless if any action is taken down the road," Vilagi said. "If there was one uniform set of standards on how crime was reported, I'm quite certain we would rank among the top 10 or 15 cities. The serious crime rate is very low here."

Avon uses the new National Incident Based Reporting System [NIBRS], a system that categorizes each crime as a separate incident even if the crimes occur at the same time.

The Elyria Police Department also uses NIBRS, Elyria police Chief Mike Medders said.

"We've been in dispute with this the last three or four years, he said. "They are comparing apples to oranges. The data they re collecting doesn't show the true crime in Elyria."

More crime also is reported in Elyria because it is a larger community, Medders said. Avon is more rural and its ranking at 49 makes no sense, he said.

"It's like trying to compare Cleveland to New York or Chicago or L.A., he said. If you've got 60,000 people you re going to have more thefts than say Avon where you have 15,000 people." ...

Lorain's safety ranking was 41, eight notches higher than Avon ...

Cleveland Magazine Editor Steve Gleydura said the magazine asks the police departments that respond to use the Uniformed Crime Report [UCR] system. A weighted formula is then used to determine the safety ranking with violent crime, such as murder, rape, aggravated robbery and assault having more weight.

"We ask for the UCR and that's what we hope they give us," Gleydura said. "It all depends on how they report it to us. We're in the process of trying to smooth some of this out. We ve known about this for awhile, but we can only use the information they give us." ...

Police departments are switching to the NIBRS system, and Gleydura said the magazine will look at changing its requirement.

It also is looking at ways to smooth out the crime per capita portion of the safety ranking, he said ... ''

Contact Christina Jolliffe at cjolliffe@chronicletelegram.com

NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 6-7-02, By Dave Davis, Joan Mazzolini and Rich Exner, Plain Dealer Reporters

``Ohio trails Great Lakes region in income and education

... Nationwide, Ohio ranked 30th-best among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in median household income, the percentage of college graduates and family poverty, according to a Plain Dealer analysis of those categories.

The Buckeye State finished dead last among the six states in the Midwestern Great Lakes Region ...

George Cooper, president of the Council of Great Lakes Industries, a group of businesses, noted that while those states have diversified, they still rely heavily on manufacturing, especially Ohio ...

The numbers show that after two bleak decades, the Great Lakes region and the Midwest overall - the territory that stretches from Ohio west to the Dakotas and Nebraska - were rebounding ...

Nationwide, median household income rose to $41,994, beating inflation by nearly 8 percent ...''

Contact Dave Davis at ddavis@plaind.com

NEWS ARTICLE from The Associated Press, 6-11-02

``Report ranks states' growth in economy's last boom year

WASHINGTON -- ... Rhode Island and Idaho led all states in economic growth while Alaska and Louisiana, where the recession started, were dead last, the government reported yesterday ...

The Commerce Department report on gross state product showed ... Residents of Rhode Island enjoyed the fastest growth pace, a gain of 10.7 percent in gross state product in 2000 compared with 1999. Idaho was not far behind with an increase of 8.3 percent, followed by an 8.1 percent rise in economic output in neighboring Oregon.

At the other end of the spectrum, Alaska, Louisiana and Mississippi were all hurt by weakness in the oil and gas industry and manufacturing. Economic output in Alaska fell by 2.9 percent in 2000 and was down 2.7 percent in Louisiana, the only two states where the economy shrank that year. Mississippi, third from the bottom, eked out a tiny 0.8 percent increase. Ohio ranked No. 38 with a 2.2 percent increasee ...''

Contact Dave Davis at ddavis@plaind.com

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NEWS ARTICLE from The PRESS, 6-5-02, By Mike Ferrari

``National Electric Code could violate Constitution

AVON -- Constitutional rights and the infringement of the basic concepts that are the staple of United States were part of a casual conversation that was brought up a couple weeks ago at an Avon City Council meeting.

Casual conversation might be an understatement. Every three to four years, the National Electric Code, (NEC an electrical industry standard guide) is updated to stay on track with technological advances.

The code is simple in concept, and refers to mandatory standards for all electric work that is completed in either businesses or homes. The code is in place to ensure that safe practices are followed unilaterally across the country. The enforcing agency, in most cases falls in the building department's hands for each respective city in the United States.

There are various stipulations included in the large, intimidating paperwork that makes up the new code requirements, and it was with one of them that Avon Council hit a crater-sized pothole in their pursuit to pass the new electric code into effect for the city.

Language used in the national electric code states that building inspectors, who would be enforcing the electric code requirements for houses and businesses, could have the right to enter private property without probable cause. The clause that allows for the inspection is called the "right of entry."

The interpretation of that specific language spurred a lengthy discussion amongst council members about the rights of privacy and upholding the fourth amendment of the Constitution.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution states: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Councilman Tim Nickum started the conversation and discussion objecting to the language used in the code. "It flies in the face of the fourth amendment of the Constitution," Nickum said. "That was the way it was written; we were giving the building inspectors more authority than the police ...

The city is currently conducting electric inspections based on the 1998 version of the NEC. In order to be able to act on the new stipulations in the recent version, council must first adopt and pass legislation.

Councilman Jack Kilroy sees the code verbiage as unacceptable ... "When Tim Nickum alerted me to the language that would give inspectors the right to enter private homes upon showing an ID, I was appalled," Kilroy said after the meeting. "Our homes are our castles, and while we don't need moats to protect from intruders, we don't need council intruding on the right to privacy either.

"I will do whatever I can to ensure that the so-called 'right of entry' is removed from the proposal. Our inspectors don't need it, our homeowners won't stand for it." As the discussion rounded all but a few council members, it was tabled to allow for further analysis ...

Both Nickum and Kilroy feel that as long as the right of entry clause is acknowledged in the building permit that it can be deleted from the NEC based local jurisdiction and determination.

Additionally, the push to add the right of entry clause to only new structures compared to any existing dwelling in the city proved to be another problem for council members. Others on council, including Council President Tom Wearsch and Councilman Gerald Gentz, feel the NEC should not be interpreted in the invasive manner ...

Gentz, Wearsch, Kilroy and Nickum also discussed the options of obtaining a search warrant to inspect various structures for electrical code violations should the owner deny access to the city inspector.

"If the owner says no, a search warrant could be obtained," Gentz said ...

Avon Mayor Jim Smith said the solution is simple. "We are just bringing the code to current from 1998 to where we can accept the codes as they make adjustments through the years," Smith said. "They (council) can take any of the intrusive language out of the ordinance because we need to preserve people's constitutional rights." ...''

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