Newspaper Record of XXXXX/JACOBS in Avon,
10-7-03 to 11-3-03

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10-7-03 City Council was misled

10-20-03 2003 Avon Charter Amendments

NEWS ARTICLE from The Sun, 9-25-03, By KEN PRENDERGAST, Staff Writer

[Westlake officials want 5 lanes on Detroit Road]

``City seeking $26 million from ODOT to expand street to five lanes in Westlake

WESTLAKE -- About 2 miles of Detroit Road would be widened to five lanes if the project is approved by a review board at the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Today [9-25-03] in Akron, ODOT's Transportation Review Advisory Council [TRAC] will hear requests for state funding for road, bike path and transit projects from cities and other local governments throughout Northeast Ohio. Westlake officials will be among those making their case for ODOT dollars. However, it could be months before they learn whether the state money is forthcoming.

About $26 million [$26M/2.5 miles = $10.4 million per mile] is being requested from ODOT to widen Detroit Road, between Crocker and Columbia roads. Currently there are two through lanes with a center turn lane. Detroit Road would be widened with two eastbound lanes, two westbound lanes and a center turn lane, according to city Engineer Bob Kelly.

Building additional lanes along Detroit Road won support earlier this month from the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency. Officials from the metropolitan planning organization will join Kelly and an independent traffic consultant in making the case today to the TRAC.

"Based on the traffic counts, the improvement is necessary," said Mayor Dennis Clough. "Whether we're successful in convincing the TRAC, nobody knows." ...''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morining Journal, 10-7-03, By JENNIFER HICKIN, Morning Journal Writer

[City Council was misled]

``AVON -- TranSystem Corporation, the company being recommended by Mayor Jim Smith to do an Interstate 90 interchange justification study, answered City Council questions about the study last night.

During the first four steps of the study, a "road map" will be created, according to Susan Swartz, a representative of TranSystem. Swartz would serve as project manager if City Council votes to hire TranSystem.

Collecting data, performing traffic studies, developing interchange options and deciding on the best feasible option are all part of the first four steps of planning, Swartz said.

During this stage of planning, public input would be collected on an informal basis and then once interchange options are determined a formal meeting would be held, she said. However, the number of formal meetings could be altered if council felt it necessary. In July, City Council passed a resolution in support of a feasibility study that would look at whether an interchange is needed, possible locations and its impact on the community.

No cost estimates for the study were presented last night. Previous estimates from the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency Study placed costs between $50,000 and $150,000.

Fees for the study are based on the number of hours estimated to complete the project, according to John Grow, TranSystem regional manager. TranSystem Corporation has offices in Cleveland and is headquartered in Kansas City, Mo.

Councilman at large Jack Kilroy asked about the outcome of previous studies the company has completed, explaining if building an interchange is always chosen or vice versa there may be company bias.

TranSystem has been part of projects that have selected build and no-build options, according to Swartz, who along with Grow has been involved with between 10 and 15 interchange justification studies with TranSystem. In the no-build cases, those decisions were later reversed by the communities, she said.

"It's not our decision; it's your decision what happens," Swartz said.

"I want the best possible answer and the most fair answer," said Councilman Mark Julius, Ward 1, explaining he felt City Council was misled over the past few years about the process for moving forward with an interchange. Initially, it was thought a location for the interchange should be selected and then a study completed on that location; however, after City Council met with officials from the ODOT and NOACA, it was decided to wait until after a study is completed to make a location choice.

Councilman Gerald Gentz, Ward 4, asked the company if it had worked with The Richard E. Jacobs Group Inc. two years ago on its proposal to build an interchange in the city.

TranSystem was asked for advice by the Jacobs Group at that time, according to Grow, who explained it no longer has any affiliation with the Jacobs Group, which owns property in Avon, or any Avon property owner.

The final two companies interviewed to do the study did not have any current affiliation with Avon property owners, according to Mayor Jim Smith, explaining that was a requirement for being selected.

The item will appear on the next work session agenda, allowing time for the mayor to put together a financing proposal and for contract details to be worked out, according to Council President Thomas Wearsch.''

NEWS ARTICLE from The Morining Journal, 10-8-03, By JENNIFER HICKIN, Morning Journal Writer

``Changes Sought in Avon Road Plan

AVON -- Residents of Livingston Drive took their concerns about safety to City Council this week and talked about changing the city's master thoroughfare plan to prevent a future connection of their street with Schwartz Road.

The concern is for the safety of those living on Livingston Drive, a street that is home to a number of children, according to Barrington Drive resident Henry Scarberry, who attended Monday's meeting with about 25 other residents living on or near Livingston Drive.

"Livingston is part of the master thoroughfare plan," said Jim Piazza, the city planning coordinator, who explained that connecting Schwartz Road to Livingston Drive has been part of the plan since it was created in 1992 ...

However, Scarberry said another connector street is not necessary because Riegelsberger Road, only about a quarter of a mile south from the planned link up of Livingston Drive and Schwartz Road, is already doing a good job of getting residents to SR 83.

"There is a legitimate concern about traffic in that area," said another resident. Although speed limits are posted at 25 mph on Livingston Drive, drivers regularly travel at greater speeds, run stop signs and drag race on the road, according to the residents, who said they are concerned that connecting the roads will increase problems.

Wearsch said he will refer the issue to the Avon Planning Commission, so it can make a recommendation to council.''

NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 10-15-03, By JENNIFER HICKIN , Morning Journal Writer

``AVON -- The city's planning commission will be making decisions regarding signs within the city for the last time tonight, after City Council shifted the responsibility to the city's planning coordinator ...

In other business, the city will receive funding from the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency in 2006 for the widening of Detroit Road in the French Creek District, according to Mayor Jim Smith. As part of the project, the city will also be able to apply for enhancement funds to help with creating a city parking lot, installing lighting, park benches and other amenities in the area.

''(The project) will create an early downtown area everyone wanted,'' said Smith.

A funding proposal for the Interstate 90 interchange study, that may include money from area property owners, is also being put together, according to Smith, who said he will be meeting with the city's finance director this week to work on the proposal.''

NEWS ARTICLE from The Sun, 10-23-03, By MATT PAWLIKOWSKI, Staff Writer

``Firm chosen for I-90 plan

AVON -- When it comes to who will handle the Interstate 90 interchange study, there is just one company in Mayor Jim Smith's mind, TranSystem Corp., which has offices in Cleveland and is headquartered in Kansas City.

"I got it down to six companies that were very highly recommended," Smith said. "And, after consulting with people, this one has very high marks from everyone."

High marks yes, but, the recommendation did not come without questions.

Councilman at large Jack Kilroy had concerns, mainly about the outcome of prior studies done by the company.

"It's a very big step in the development of Avon," Kilroy said. "So, I think questions need to be asked before we move forward. They have never worked on a program where a no-build option was chosen, and my other concern is the firm has worked for the Jacobs group, who is a landowner that could benefit from this."

Smith acknowledged the fact that there was contact with the Jacobs group, but said the individual is no longer employed by the company. He also said that the fact the company had never worked on a program with a no-build option was not true. [But was a no-build option ever chosen?]

"It was a personal services contract, and he no longer works there," Smith said of the contact with Jacobs. ...''

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TO THE EDITOR of The Morning Journal, 11-3-03, By Carla Wible

This year I moved from Parma to our new home in Avon on Long Road. Avon is a beautiful community, and I hope it stays that way. Recently I learned about the Master Thoroughfare Plan prepared for the City of Avon by URS Consulting Engineers and presented to the Planning Commission on June 12, 2002. I am dismayed to find that URS has recommended that Avon put five lanes of pavement on Detroit Rd. and five lanes of pavement on Colorado Road. The intersection of Detroit, Colorado, and Stoney Ridge will be like the intersection of Brookpark and State Rd. in Parma.

If there are five lanes of pavement on Detroit and Colorado, there will be five lanes on Stoney Ridge at least as far south as Kinzel, and then five lanes on Kinzel and five lanes on 83 back to Detroit, to make some kind of inner belt. When Avon has 65,000 people, this will congeal to a big, unmoving parking lot. Avon's original country road system -- Long, Kinzel, Detroit, 83, Schwartz, Jaycox, Riegelsberger, Stoney Ridge, French Creek, Case, Nagel, etc. -- cannot handle that kind of traffic. Five lanes of pavement on Detroit guarantees gridlock in Avon.

No consideration is being given to those of us who live on Avon's original country roads. Why are we expected to endure excessive traffic and the noise and pollution that comes with it? There has to be a better way. I have read about vehicle access streets with no individual private driveways. They would run back of the developments. No sidewalks, water lines, gas lines, or sanitary sewer lines would be required since only cars would be using such a street. Electricity could be provided from intersecting public streets coming out of the developments.

Expanding Detroit Rd. to five lanes of pavement would require that sidewalks, sanitary sewer lines, gas lines, and water lines be torn up. In addition, the telephone poles would have to be moved. Lanes of pavement on a vehicle access street would be much less expensive than lanes of pavement added to Avon's original country roads. More lanes of pavement are necessary to move cars around Avon. Spreading out these lanes will avoid gridlock.

The most interesting question is Who pays for new lanes of pavement? If they are added to existing roads, the residents must pay for them; and developers would pay nothing to alleviate the traffic problems they create throughout Avon. If these lanes of pavement are put down on new vehicle access streets, the Ohio Supreme Court decision in the Beaver Creek case allows Avon to require developers to pay their fair share.

If you vote tomorrow for the charter amendment preserving Detroit Rd., you will be protecting all of Avon's original roads. This will let City Hall know they have to stop doing business as usual. Protecting Detroit Rd. in our charter guarantees that Avon officials will not widen the pavement on Detroit Rd. to five lanes without a vote of the people.

Carla Wible

LETTER TO THE EDITOR of The Chronicle-Telegram, 10-31-03, By Carla Wible

In the near future residents of Avon may be asked to pay for the expansion of Detroit Road. This costly procedure would be an attempt to accomodate the vehicles of our growing populace. Expanding Detroit Rd. to five lanes of pavement would require that sidewalks, sanitary sewer lines, gas lines, and water lines be torn up. In addition, the telephone poles would have to be moved.

There has to be a better way. I have read about vehicle access streets with no individual private driveways. They would run in back of the developments. No utilities would be required since only cars would be using such a street.

If lanes of pavement are added to existing roads, the residents must pay for them and the developers would pay nothing. If these lanes of pavement are put down on new streets (vehicle access streets) the Ohio Supreme Court decision in the case of Beaver Creek allows Avon to require developers to pay their fair share.

If you vote YES on Nov. 4 for the charter amendment preserving Detroit Rd., you will be protecting all of Avon's original roads. This will let City Hall know they have to save our residents' money. Protecting Detroit Rd. in our charter guarantees that Avon officials will not widen the pavement on Detroit Rd. to five lanes without a vote of the people.

Carla Wible

LETTER TO THE EDITOR of The Press, 10-29-03, By Chuck Huene

How many of you remember a few brave residents of the colonies taking the initiative and voting to author a Declaration of Independence for this country? Well, you as a citizen of the United States and resident of Avon have an opportunity to vote for your own independence through changes and additions to your city's Charter.

All of Avon's charter amendments should be approved, but two in particular have to do with the quality of life that I and you should personally expect and deserve. The future of existing Avon structures and its roads cannot be in the hands of an administration that has no intention whatsoever of preserving anything; only to get as many new homes and cars in our town's borders as will fit and many more.

Voting for the Landmarks Preservation Commission brings the demolition of a designated structure to the attention of residents that at least care a little for preservation and gives them an opportunity to explore alternatives. Voting for preserving Detroit Rd removes any decision from the administration and places it in your hands where it belongs.

If you are continuously sitting there stewing about not being able to do anything about anything, here is your opportunity to take the initiative. Vote YES. You will feel better and be better.

CHUCK HUENE

EDITORIAL from The Morning Journal, 10-23-03

``... Issue 18, a proposed charter amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot, is a misguided effort at maintaining Avon's historic countryside charm.

Approval of Issue 18 by voters would amend the city charter to require that ''neither Council nor Planning Commission shall act to widen the pavement on Detroit Road to more than thirty-six (36) feet.''

That would basically restrict Detroit Road to three lanes in the future.

But Detroit Road is a main artery flowing all the way across Avon and through the heart of its historic French Creek district. [YOU WANT 5 LANES THROUGH THE FRENCH CREEK DISTRICT?]

Detroit Road also is SR-254, a state route, and it carries traffic into Westlake on one end and Sheffield Township on the other -- both booming growth areas.

If the state and those neighboring towns feel the need to widen Detroit beyond three lanes ... Avon could find itself in a legally awkward spot by keeping the roadway choked down to three lanes in the name of charm. [The Detroit Road Preservation Charter Amendment in no way stops the State of Ohio from widening Detroit Rd. to any number of lanes] ...''

PRESENTATION at the Avon Candidates Night, 10-22-03, By Taylor J. Smith

The 2003 Avon Charter Amendments

Issue 23

One of the goals of the 2003 Avon Charter Review Commission was to bring our Charter into line with what Avon officials are actually doing. For example, Article VII, Section 2 states "All plans, recommendations and regulations made by the Planning Commission shall be submitted to the Council for approval ..." In fact, some "plans, recommendations" etc. such as sign decisions, have not been submitted to the Council for approval.

The Charter Review Commission has recommended that this situation be corrected by inserting the words "Unless otherwise provided by ordinance," in front of the words "all plans, recommendations" etc. This recommendation appears on the ballot as Charter Amendment Issue 23.

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Issue 21

Another example pertains to Council, Article IV, Section 12 and Section 14. Section 14 states "Each emergency measure ... shall require the affirmative vote of three-fourths (3/4) of the membership of the legislative authority for the suspension of rules and for its enactment."

Council has been suspending the rules with a 3/4 vote but then passes an emergency measure with a simple majority. In order to make the Charter agree with this practice, the Charter Review Commission has recommended that the words "and for its enactment" be eliminated.

Section 12 states "An affirmative vote of at least a majority of members of Council eligible to vote shall be required for the passage of every ordinance, motion or resolution." This conflicts with requirements in the Charter for more than a simple majority of Council, as for example, in suspending the rules for emergency legislation. The Charter Review Commission has recommended adding the words "Unless otherwise provided herein," at the beginning of that sentence to solve this problem.

There is a more serious problem with the words "eligible to vote." The Law Director has ruled that members of Council must be present at a meeting in order to be eligible to vote. This means that if only five members of Council are present at a meeting, three of those members could pass an ordinance. The Charter Review Commission has recommended that the words "eligible to vote" be eliminated.

Finally, in order to make the language of Article IV more uniform, the Charter Review Commission has recommended that the words "members of Council" be replaced by the words "members of the legislative authority." These recommendations for Article IV are combined in proposed Charter Amendment Issue 21.

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Issue 22

Article V, Section 7, says "The Director of Parks shall be appointed by the Mayor and shall serve at the will of the Mayor." The Charter Review Commission has recommended that this be changed so that the appointment of the Director of Parks conforms to the appointment of the other Avon Directors by requiring the concurrence of a majority of Council. This recommendation appears on the ballot as Charter Amendment Issue 22.

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Issue 20

Article VI, Section 4, the Civil Service Commission, says "The Mayor may at any time suspend any Commissioner for inefficiency ..." This language does not allow another Commissioner to be appointed. Therefore, the Charter Review Commission has recommended that the words "suspend" and "suspension" be replaced by the words "remove and "removal". This recommendation appears on the ballot as Charter Amendment Issue 20.

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Issue 19

Article XIV, The Landmark Preservation Charter Amendment. will help protect the historic structures which grace our town. It does not prevent a property owner from demolishing a landmark. It just gives concerned persons a brief opportunity to find ways to save the landmark, such as low interest loans.

This amendment creates a Landmarks Preservation Commission which "shall cause to be conducted a survey to establish a register of Avon's landmarks to raise community awareness of Avon's history and historic resources."

Also, "The Commission shall issue a demolition permit no later than six months after receiving the application for said permit." During that time, the Landmarks Preservation Commission may assist the owner of the landmark in finding another use for it, in repairing it, in finding a buyer who will preserve the landmark, or in moving the landmark. This recommendation appears on the ballot as Charter Amendment Issue 19.

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Issue 18

The Avon Charter Review Commission has voted to recommend to Council to place on the ballot the Detroit Road Preservation Charter Amendment:

"Neither Council nor Planning Commission shall act to widen the pavement on Detroit Road ... to more than thirty-six (36) feet, or to divide said pavement into more than three (3) lanes ... except at intersections and approaches to intersections with arterial or collector public streets."

Here are some reasons for this recommendation:

Ten years ago, during the creation of Avon's latest master plan, the highest priority of the citizens was to preserve Avon's small town atmosphere. The appearance of Detroit Road is a fundamental feature of Avon's small town atmosphere; and it should be protected in the most fundamental way possible, in Avon's Charter.

Preserving Detroit Road is an important quality of life goal, and the people should decide its future. Detroit Rd. is the setting for many of our churches, schools, and century homes.

A Master Thoroughfare Plan was presented by a URS traffic engineer to the Planning Commission on June 12, 2002. URS has recommended that Avon put five lanes of pavement on Detroit Rd. and five lanes of pavement on Colorado Road.

If there are five lanes of pavement on Detroit and Colorado, there will be five lanes on Stoney Ridge. The intersection of Detroit, Colorado, and Stoney Ridge will be like the intersection of Brookpark and Ridge Rd. in Parma.

Five lanes of pavement on Detroit Rd. guarantee gridlock in Avon.

If there seem to be more cars on the roads now with 15,000 residents, what will things be like when there are 45,000 to 65,000 people living in Avon?

More lanes of pavement will have to be put down in Avon to move the increasing population around our town. Questions to be answered are: Where will these new lanes of pavement be laid? How much will they cost? and Who will pay for them?

Expanding Detroit Rd. to five lanes of pavement would require that sidewalks, sanitary sewer lines, gas lines, and water lines be torn up. In addition, the telephone poles would have to be moved.

Vehicle access streets are an alternative to adding lanes to Detroit Rd. and to Avon's other original country roads. A vehicle access street has no private driveways and is designed to move cars around Avon. No sidewalks, water lines, gas lines, or sanitary sewer lines would be required. Electricity could be provided from intersecting public streets coming out of the developments.

Lanes of pavement on a vehicle access street would be much less expensive than lanes of pavement added to Avon's original country roads. More lanes of pavement are necessary to move cars around Avon. Spreading out these new lanes of pavement will avoid gridlock in Avon.

Who pays for new lanes of pavement? If they are added to existing roads, the residents must pay for them; and developers would pay nothing. If these lanes of pavement are put down on new streets (vehicle access streets) the Ohio Supreme Court decision in the Beaver Creek case allows Avon to require developers to pay their fair share.

Currently Detroit Road is designated an arterial which permits a pavement width of forty-eight feet and four lanes. Planning Commission has received the URS recommendation that the pavement on Detroit Road should be widened to five lanes.

It could be argued, especially since the Mayfield decision by the Ohio Supreme Court, that five lanes of pavement on Detroit Road make single family residential use impossible. It could then be argued that the entire length of Detroit Road should be zoned commercial or for apartments, now, even before another square foot of pavement is added. More lanes on Detroit will make it a traffic generator, not a way to move cars around Avon.

Apartments on Detroit Rd. could add 15,000 people to Avon's build-out population, increasing it to 80,000. Avon has an area of 20.9 square miles. Parma has an area of 20.8 square miles and a population of 87,000. Five lanes of pavement on Detroit Rd. would be consumed by the traffic generated on Detroit Rd.

If you vote YES on Nov. 4 to preserve Detroit Rd., you will be protecting all of Avon's original roads, you will be preventing gridlock; and you will be helping control Avon's build-out population. This will let City Hall know they have to stop doing business as usual. Protecting Detroit Rd. in our charter guarantees that Avon officials will not widen the pavement on Detroit Rd. to five lanes without a vote of the people. This recommendation appears on the ballot as Charter Amendment Issue 18.

NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 10-20-03, By JENNIFER HICKIN, Morning Journal Writer

[2003 Avon Charter Amendments]

``AVON -- Of six charter amendments appearing on November's ballot, two relate to city preservation including one amendment to keep Detroit Road from ever being widened [to 5 LANES] and another to create a Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Voters will decide whether the city's charter should be changed to prevent City Council or the Avon Planning Commission from widening the pavement on Detroit Road to more than 36 feet or dividing it into more than three lanes.

Currently, the pavement on Detroit Road can be widened to 48 feet and four lanes, with recommendations being made from a [URS] traffic study that it be widened to five lanes to carry cars to a proposed Interstate 90 interchange, according to a report submitted to council by Taylor J. Smith, the chairman of the charter commission.

In an attempt to preserve city landmarks, a proposed amendment requires up to a six-month waiting period before an owner of a registered landmark can demolish a landmark building.

During this waiting period, a Landmarks Preservation Commission would provide the owner with other possible options besides demolition. [In any case], the owner would still have the option to demolish the building at the end of the six-month waiting period.

To approve general and emergency legislation, the charter commission is proposing a change requiring approval by a majority of the entire council, not just a majority of those members present at a council meeting.

Currently, only the mayor has a final say in who is appointed as parks director, but the commission is proposing approval also be required from council.

The two remaining proposed charter amendment changes involve wording. As the charter now reads, the mayor can suspend a Civil Service Commission member for various reasons with the suspension becoming final with the approval of two-thirds of council. The amendment change would replace the words ''suspend'' and ''suspension'' with the words ''remove'' and ''removal.''

The final change relates to the planning commission and adds the words ''unless otherwise provided by ordinance'' to the beginning of the sentence ''all plans, recommendations and regulations made by the planning commission shall be submitted to the Council for approval ...''

The Avon charter is automatically reviewed every five years by a group of residents who are selected by City Council.

As required by the city's charter, City Council voted in May to put the six proposed charter amendments on the November ballot at the request of the Charter Review Commission.''

More Documents Relating to the June 8, 1998, Decision Against Avon

Newspaper Record of XXXXX/Jacobs in Avon

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