6-16-02 URS presents a traffic plan
8-14-02 Comments at Planning Commission
NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 4-21-02, By Jesse Tinsley, Plain Dealer Reporter
[If any Avon governmental body requests a NOACA study of the feasibility of an I-90 interchange near Nagel Rd., would such a request give Jacobs a basis for demanding that the land he owns there be rezoned from industrial to commercial?]
``Mayfield Hts. must pay developer
MAYFIELD HEIGHTS -- In a ruling that could affect every community in the state, the Ohio Supreme Court has ordered the city to compensate developers for not allowing them to build a shopping center on their land.
Two years ago, the state's highest court ruled that the city's single-family zoning for the 22-acre site near Mayfield Road and Interstate 271 was unconstitutional. The zoning had landed in court because Mayfield Heights officials had rejected requests to rezone the land.
The developers - Michael A. Shemo and Larry Goldberg - then demanded compensation, arguing that the zoning restriction and procedural delays constituted a temporary seizure of the property, banning owners from retail development and resulting in financial loss.
The high court unanimously agreed this month and sent the case back to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to set damages. The award could be substantial, because the period of dispute ran from March 1992 to April 2001 ...''
Contact Jesse Tinsley at email@example.com
LETTER TO THE EDITOR of The Press, 7-24-02, By Paul Burik
The June 26, 2002, issue of The Press reported on the Master Thoroughfare Plan prepared for the City of Avon by URS Consulting Engineers.
Per the article, far-reaching proposals were made: a new I-90 interchange [near Nagel Road] and widening of Detroit and Chester roads to five lanes among them.
As an architect of 20 some years, I have learned that consultants naturally rely on their field of expertise in solving a problem. A structural engineer will design a larger beam; a traffic engineer will call for a wider road. It is not cost effective to explore other options.
I was a Planning Commission member when this study was first commissioned, and I argued for including an urban planner as a part of the team. That did not happen. Thus, the recommendations are rather predictable: build wider roads.
Such a conclusion no doubt follows mathematical projections and computer modeling [and questionable assumptions?] But where is the human input? Where is the community input? What does this do to the character of the community?
For example, a five-lane road, as proposed for Detroit Road, becomes a barrier to any pedestrian trying to cross it. Much as I-90 did, a five-lane road will sever Avon in half.
Do we want to build Avon for cars passing through, or for people living here?
An up-to-date traffic study is certainly necessary for a thoroughfare plan, but other input needs to be part of the process. The Visioning Process recently conducted in Avon [Fall, 2001], and sponsored by the City, should be part of the picture. Creation of a new network of roads should be considered.
Adoption of a Thoroughfare Master Plan is a huge, huge step in formulating this community's future. Let us learn from others. Let us think this through.
Paul Burik, Avon
NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 6-16-02, By Brad Dicken
[URS presents a traffic plan]
``AVON -- A traffic consultant has proposed major changes for the city's roads, including the addition of an interchange to Interstate 90 east of Lear-Nagel Road.
URS Corp.'s proposed Avon Master Thoroughfare Plan also calls for widening Detroit and Chester roads to five lanes, extending Chester Road into Westlake and adding several new roads throughout the city ...
Representatives of URS, the Akron-based consultant that prepared the plan, presented it to the Planning Commission at a special meeting Wednesday [6-12-02].
Mayor Jim Smith said there were several parts of the plan that he liked, but others that might not be feasible, such as widening Detroit Road throughout the city.
"Five lanes for Detroit Road is way too much. Three lanes might be better," he said. "I want people to move in and out of Avon on I-90."
But the proposed interchange east of Lear-Nagel is something that will probably happen, he said. Westlake developer Richard Jacobs has pushed for an interchange in that area for a shopping project his company had planned to build ...
Another shopping complex, Smith said, might be a problem because the city might not be able to support it, given Avon Commons at the State Route 83 -- I-90 interchange.
... Avon Historical Society President Taylor J. Smith, who attended the Planning Commission meeting to participate in a discussion on preserving Avon's historical buildings, said much of the plan would spell disaster for the city.
"It's ironic that on one hand they're talking about preserving Avon's sense of place and on the other they're talking about destroying it," he said.
Taylor Smith said expanding Detroit Road to five lanes would bring the road precariously close to homes and businesses along it, taking away from the unique look of the area.
He also said there could be problems with several of the proposed new roads and extensions being built [for example, the `Crocker Rd.' type road running from the proposed interchange south to the Ridgeville line along the east side of Nagel Rd. through the new St. Joseph's Catholic cemetary, to be paid for by Avon taxpayers].
"I'm all for moving traffic, but I don't think the plan presented by URS is going to preserve Avon's sense of place," he said ...'' [Some creative thinking is needed so that we don't become a cookie-cutter version of North Olmsted with Detroit Rd. turning into a Lorain Street.]
Contact Brad Dicken at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEWS ARTICLE from The Villager, 6-6-02
``Tri-C Agrees to Purchase Richard E. Jacobs Group, Inc. Headquarters Building for Westside Corporate College Location
CLEVELAND -- The Board of Trustees of Cuyahoga Community College today voted to purchase the headquarters building of The Richard E. Jacobs Group ... in Westlake, Ohio.
The College is buying the facility, located at the corner of Columbia and Center Ridge Roads, to serve as the Westside location of the school's Corporate College ...
Tri-C will pay $10 million for the acre site and the approximate 100,000 square foot building. The Jacobs Group will continue to be headquartered at the location and will lease approximately 17,000 square feet of space in the easterly wing of the building ...
Founded in 1955 and headquartered in suburban Cleveland, The Jacobs Group was among the early pioneering companies in the development of major enclosed regional shopping malls across America.
Its newest regional mall, Triangle Town Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, will open in August 2002. Another new super-regional property, Gulf Coast Town Center, is currently under development in Lee County, Florida, midway between Ft. Meyers and Naples.
Other Jacobs Group developments in Northeast Ohio include Key Center and McDonald Investment Center in downtown Cleveland. The Jacobs Group is also the managing partner and 50 percent owner of the 600-acre Chagrin Highlands corporate campus, which is under the development in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland ...''
COMMENTS by Taylor J. Smith at the Avon Planning Commission meeting on 8-14-02:
I would like to raise two issues with regard to the 2002 URS "Draft Avon Master Thoroughfare Plan." The first is credibility, and the second issue is lack of vision.
As an amateur historian, please allow me to review the public record to establish the context of this plan.
Quoting from a NEWS ARTICLE in THE MORNING JOURNAl, 6-6-00, By SARAH FENSKE
"... A draft of a traffic study commissioned by the Jacobs Group concludes I-90 interchanges at SR 83 and Crocker Road will fail to meet the traffic needs of the area by 2002 ...
The [URS] study supports the Westlake developer's premise that Avon needs another highway interchange -- an interchange at Nagel Road ...
In order to proceed with interchange plans, the Jacobs Group would need a regional traffic study done by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA).
That five-county regional board needs Avon's authorization before beginning such a study ..."
Quoting from a NEWS ARTICLE in THE PRESS, 8-9-00, By Mike Ferrari
"Representatives from the Jacob's Group gave an elaborate presentation to Avon Council Monday night [8-7-00] ...
Councilman Tim Nickum said he is not satisfied with the presentation ...
``They are going to have to answer a lot of questions. [URS] the same engineering group that came in tonight [gave] Avon Commons A and B ratings for traffic after signalization, so I have a lot of questions.'' ...
[Council President] Brady commented on the reasoning behind the study and said he feels the basis for the push from the Jacob's Group is obvious ... ``they are trying to make their property worth more money,'' Brady said. ...
[Councilman] Kilroy ... talked in detail about several of the questions he has pertaining to the traffic study ...
``A year ago (URS) did a review that said the traffic was going to be fine. There are a lot of questions as to whether we were misled by the Avon Commons traffic study, or if this study is self serving and why is the same firm saying two different things?'' ..."
Quoting from a NEWS ARTICLE in THE MORNING JOURNAL, 1-21-01, By RYAN CORNELL
[Regarding a Letter from Jeffrey C. LeBarron, representing the Jacobs Group]
``... LeBarron's letter told the Avon Planning Commission the company would like to work with the city in its review of the [2000 URS traffic] ... study ... "In our mind, the key issue is whether the community and its public officials agree that the existing I-90 interchanges at S.R. 83 and S.R. 611 lack the capacity to adequately serve Avon's transportation needs beyond the near term."...''
Quoting from a NEWS ARTICLE in The PRESS, 8-8-01, By Julie Short
``The last major thoroughfare analysis to be conducted in the City of Avon took place in 1991 ...
Planning Commission, as well as the City Council, will soon vote on whether or not to award ... [the contract to] URS Greiner ... the lowest bidder.
"I'm in favor of a master thoroughfare study. When finished, I hope the information is unbiased and complete, and that the conclusions drawn are credible. Considering URS' past performance in the City, I question the choice ...," Councilwoman ... JoAnne Easterday said.
Easterday went on to explain. "When working for the City of Avon with money supplied by First Interstate ..., one conclusion was drawn ... that things would operate pretty smoothly ...
When working with the Jacobs Group regarding the same intersections, an entirely different scenario was portrayed ... these intersections were doomed to failure ...
I do not think it wise to reward a company with further work when the company can apparently so easily contradict itself" ...
... Council is in agreement that the funds to conduct the proposed $40,000 analysis will come from the Jacobs Group ... ''
COMMENTS continued below
[DETROIT ROAD IS STILL IN DANGER.
At a meeting of the Avon Planning Commission on 10-2-02, the Planning Commission voted to recommend to Council several features of the 2002 URS Master Thoroughfare Plan, including a new I-90 interchange near Nagel Road.
The audience at the public hearing brought forward some interesting suggestions and questions, for example, how many years would traffic coming down Nagel Rd. be required to make a dog-leg turn on Chester Rd. to reach the interchange?
In other words, how many years after the interchange is built would it take to build a new north-south connector from North Ridgeville to the interchange? We have lived with a dog-leg turn on SR-83 at Chester for over thirty years. The interchange should be referred back to the Planning Commission to answer this and other questions and to study some of the suggestions.
The Planning Commission did not recommend the URS proposal to "widen Detroit Road to five lanes, east of Colorado to Crocker Road." Nor did the Planning Commission recommend that Detroit Rd. should NOT be widened to five lanes. The Planning Commission was silent on this critical issue.
Instead of the URS Plan, Planning Commission should recommend to Council an ordinance changing Detroit Rd. from an arterial to a new road classification, perhaps called a "heritage highway." A heritage highway would have no more than three lanes, and be no wider than 36 feet of pavement, except at intersections. It would have the same right-of-way as an arterial.
Paul Burik raised the issue that if more "straight through" connectors were not constructed, most traffic would be forced to Detroit Road. Without such connectors it will become more and more difficult for people to leave the subdivisions and get to locations in Avon, to I-90, or to a commuter rail parking area.
Just as developers are required to install curbs, sidewalks, retention basins, storm sewers and sanitary sewers, they have an obligation to address the overall traffic impact of their developments, perhaps with another new road classification called "limited access connector."
A limited access connector could have the same pavement width and right-of-way as a collector, but the only access would be at intersections. Private driveways could not access the limited access connector. The purpose of a limited access connector would be to allow "straight through" traffic.
In order to minimize the burden on developers, no curbs, sidewalks or sanitary sewers should be required for a limited access connector, which would be similar to Avon's country roads such as Long, Kinzel, Riegelsberger, Schwartz, etc. A limited access connector could have back yards facing it on either side. People prefer to have their drives and sidewalks on curvy streets with lots of cul-de-sacs.
Sooner or later the local traffic impact of Avon's growth will have to be faced; and the delusion that these problems can be solved by five lanes of pavement on Detroit must be abandoned.]
LETTER TO THE EDITOR of THE PRESS, 9-18-02, By Jean Fischer
This past summer my husband and I had the opportunity of taking a driving trip to Florida. This afforded us a good look at many cities' answers to growth and how their roads were defined. Many towns were much like ours.
This letter is to voice strong objection to the proposal to make Detroit Road a five lane arterial road. This is totally unnecessary. We already have a six lane by-pass road in I 90, Route 2. Anyone not wishing to "struggle through town", can easily get on 90.
To make Detroit Road five lanes would totally ruin its rural atmosphere that so many newcomers seem to admire.
In Westlake, the major intersections are five lanes for approximately 500 feet in all directions. Detroit Road then becomes three lanes. This was the same pattern we found in traveling throughout our trip. Major cities with more than 100,000 population did address the situtation differently.
Detroit Road is mostly residential, except for the intersections of our through north and south streets. Since Chester Road is closer to all interchanges of I-90, it does make sense to make it an arterial street. This can be changed from the Master plan which states it to be a collector street. Chester Road already has industrial development and few residential parcels.
Detroit Road does need a turning lane, period. This road should be limited to three lanes to preserve its rural, historic nature.
Recently I went to South Park Mall in Strongsville. The section around the mall was five lanes, much like ours. However at the intersection of Routes 42 and 82 [it] reverted to two lanes within 500 feet.
Therefore, as one voice for historic preservation and trying to keep our city as attractive as possible, please think carefully before our town is destroyed by out of town developers who will pack up and move on ...
Many of you are natives of Avon; please keep Avon, the Avon you grew up in, the Avon I love, the Avon we moved to in 1966. I want to see your children and mine, our grandchildren, have all the wonderful experiences we have had.
Jean Fischer, Avon
COMMENTS by Taylor J. Smith at the Avon Planning Commission meeting on 8-14-02, continued from above:
In addition to the credibility issue, the 2002 URS "Draft Avon Master Thoroughfare Plan" lacks vision.
Does URS have any idea what expanding Detroit Rd. to five lanes from SR-83 to Westlake would do to many beautiful century homes?
Why did URS not consider a network of east-west roads so that the full traffic burden would not fall on Detroit Road?
151 million Ohio tax dollars were spent for an I-271 interchange to benefit Jacobs' Chagrin Highlands project. For Avon, there is a clear alternative to an interchamge at Nagel Rd. which URS fails to mention:
Quoting from a NEWS ARTICLE in THE MORNING JOURNAl, 2-14-01, By SARAH FENSKE
"A public hearing ... [2-15-01] at 7 p.m. will give residents a chance to learn about a commuter rail line planned from Lorain to Cleveland to Mantua ...
The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency envisions local stops in Sheffield, Avon, Westlake/Bay Village, Rocky River and Lakewood, as well as a number in Cleveland ...
Quoting from a NEWS ARTICLE in THE MORNING JOURNAl, 2-16-01, By SARAH FENSKE
"... Plans for a commuter rail line from Lorain to Cleveland drew about 60 people to a meeting last night at Clearview High School ...
Avon Lake Councilwoman Holly Kowalski ... was excited.
''This is one of the few public projects that has the ability to benefit everyone,'' she said. ''Even people who don't use it would benefit from fewer cars on the road.'' ...
Quoting from a NEWS ARTICLE in The Morning Journal, 7-24-02, By J.P. SULLIVAN
``... [A] two-page memorandum asks that the four primary parties involved in commuter rail discussions -- U.S. Reps. Dennis Kucinich ... and Sherrod Brown, ... Lorain County and NOACA -- work together on the issue that currently sits tabled in a NOACA subcommittee.''
You, the Avon Planning Commission, have an opportunity for historic action that will affect our City and our neighbors for years to come: Do we adopt an East Coast rail commuter approach, or do we settle for a Los Angeles transportation model that promises ever worsening smog and gridlock? Where Avon comes down on this question could tip the balance one way or the other.
Driving on I-90 during the rush hours is no fun now. Adding an interchange to I-90 near Nagel Road would be like tapping a large storm water drain into a sanitary sewer system. Just as sewage can back up into basements, traffic backups would be no surprise.
On a commuter train to Cleveland, one could read and enjoy the ride, in contrast with spending hours in traffic gripping a steering wheel. Because diesel fuel can be made from American coal, and because of 9-11, we should consider an approach that does not rely on gasoline. Avon can lead the way to a better future. We do not have to do the same old thing.
ARTICLE from Popular Science, 10-02, by Rob Barnett
``Choo-choos and plant-based fuels are in our energy future.
It was the end of civilization as we know it," says Mike Hart, CEO of California's Sierra Railroad, of the rolling blackouts that devastated California last year . But the crisis also gave Hart an idea. "I looked at one of our locomotives and thought: We could supply an entire town with power." ...
But what made Hart's good idea better was his decision to use biodiesel as the fuel. Biodiesel is made from agricultural sources such as soybeans, rapeseed, or even recycled cooking oil. Unlike other alternative fuels, it can power existing diesel engines with little or no modification ...
... the fuel has been found to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 78 percent. Hart's goal is to use the fuel to bring about a 95 percent decrease in net pollution ...''
NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 10-8-02, By John C. Kuehner, Plain Dealer Reporter
``Breathing not easy in region this year
Greater Clevelanders breathed unhealthy levels of smog more days this summer than at any time in more than a decade.
Smog levels were high one out of three days during the summer months, the worst since 1988, said Bill Davis, spokesman for the Northeast Ohio Ozone Action Day Task Force. The task force monitors smog levels in Cuyahoga, Lorain, Lake, Geauga, Summit, Portage, Medina and Ashtabula counties ...
"Ohio had border-to-border smog this summer," Molly Fontana, of the American Lung Association of Ohio, said in a news release. "Ozone smog is no longer just a big-city issue." ...
Ohio has met the federal one-hour standard for ozone. But in 1997, the federal government proposed a new eight-hour standard, which Greater Cleveland and other metropolitan areas in Ohio have regularly violated.
The eight-hour standard measures ozone concentrations over a longer period to better assess the impact on residents' health. It has not yet been implemented, although the data are being collected.
Continued failure of Ohio to meet air quality standards could lead to restrictions on industries, a loss of federal highway money and expanded vehicle emissions testing. ...''
NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 8-28-02, By J.P. SULLIVAN, Morning Journal Writer
``Records: Deals cost taxpayers over $500,000
ELYRIA -- While 90 percent of all commercial and residential real estate transfers result in Lorain County receiving conveyance fees, two large commercial parcels recently changed hands without the fees being paid, costing taxpayers more than $500,000, according to county records.
The Lorain County Auditor's Office confirmed that the sale of Midway Mall to the Westfield Group in April and the recent sale of Republic Technologies International to Republic Engineered Products LLC produced no conveyance fees ...
If paid, the Midway Mall sale would have netted the county an estimated $400,000 ...
Conveyance fees, one of the county's top 10 general fund revenue streams, are paid when real estate titles or deeds are transferred from one party to another. The current fee for both commercial and residential real estate is $4 per $1,000 of appraised value.
Republic Engineered Products was able to avoid paying the fees because a bankruptcy court order allowed the fee to be waived ...
The state allows for 23 different stipulations on why conveyance fees should not be paid. The two most common exemptions used both directly apply to residential transfers almost exclusively. The transfer of real property in the form of a gift to an immediate family member and the transfer of real estate deed from the government.
The most common type of government transfer comes in the form of sheriff sales and government auctions of property.
Westfield's purchase of Midway Mall from the Richard E. Jacobs Group, while legal, used a loophole in an exemption to avoid paying its fee.
Exemption ''M'' of Ohio's real property conveyance fee schedule allows the fee to be waived if a property transfer ''is to or from a person when no money or other valuable and tangible consideration readily convertible into money is paid and that the transaction is not a gift.''
Instead of cash, Westfield's $756 million purchase of malls in six states including Midway Mall involved the transfer of ''partnership units.''
Cleveland-based tax attorney Tim Armstrong, who represents Lorain County on tax issues, said yesterday that the $756 million purchase only resulted in the Jacobs Group mall partnership being ''merged and reorganized'' with Westfield's mall partnership ...''
NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 9-29-02, By Corwin Thomas
Linda Hudecek, department of community development director for the city of Cleveland, has suggested asking developers for proposals on what can be done with the parking lots on St. Clair Avenue on the east side of East 12th Street ...
Last year the city bought back the lots from developer Richard Jacobs for about $1 million. The two lots are about 1.6 acres combined.
Jacobs had bought the lots from the city in 1987 for $438,350 with plans to develop a 16-story office tower. But he never developed the land, a promise the city said he made.
More Documents Relating to the June 8, 1998, Decision Against Avon
Newspaper Record of XXXXX/Jacobs in Avon