Newspaper Record of STARK/JACOBS in Avon,
Ohio -- January 1, 1999 to January 31, 1999

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 1-1-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"ED KRYSTOWSKI blasted, state auditor's report alleges abuses of power

AVON --State auditors blasted former Avon Council President Ed Krystowski in a 65-page report detailing a long list of abuses -- including allegations that he alternately used his power to help the developers he liked and to hinder the developers he disliked.

The report has been read by a handful of city officials, but was not made public until Wednesday when The Morning Journal questioned Finance Director Bob Hamilton about the on-going investigation of Krystowski by Lorain County Prosecutor Greg White's office.

Krystowski, who did not return two phone calls seeking comment, was first publicly scrutinized in August of 1997 when The Morning Journal published a series of articles examining how he sold equipment to developers through his Wellington tractor store and then voted on their projects.

Claiming that ''rumors and lies'' were being spread about him, Krystowski resigned from office on May 26, 1998.

State Auditor James Petro's office issued a four-page report this summer on Krystowski's alleged conflicts of interest with developers, but did not outline the reasoning or facts behind the findings.

The recently released report explains step by step how Krystowski allegedly used his influence to promote some developments and to obstruct others, including the Avon Commons shopping center proposed for Detroit Road.

The end result -- according to the report -- may be financial rewards for Krystowski, a better chance of success for the huge retail project proposed by developers Richard Jacobs and Robert Stark, and lawsuits filed against the city by developers tired of unfair treatment.

The list of Krystowski's alleged favorites includes David DiBenedetto, the developer of Woodmore and Camelot Farms subdivisions, ... and Stark and Jacobs, whose controversial plan was endorsed by Krystowski.

... Of all the developers in Avon, the report states that DiBenedetto -- who controlled land eyed by Jacobs and Stark -- received the most favors from the Krystowski-led council.

Drawing on interviews with city leaders and council minutes, the auditors said it's possible that Krystowski stood to gain indirect financial benefits if the Stark/Jacobs retail project went forward.

''There appears to be extreme preferential treatment given to DiBenedetto,'' the report stated. ''Some sources have heard from planning members ... that DiBenedetto had approached Ed Krystowski and offered to buy his parcels of land for considerable more than market value if Ed Krystowski would help with getting the (Stark/Jacobs) mall approved.''

That theory is ''not true'' and is based on rumors, according to Thomas W. Henneberry, an executive vice president with The Jacobs Group.

''I have certainly no knowledge of anything that has taken place between Krystowski and DiBenedetto,'' Henneberry said. ''And there is no link between David DiBenedetto and the Jacobs/Stark venture other than that (DiBenedetto owns a piece of property that Stark is interested in.)''

DiBenedetto, who did not return several phone calls seeking comment, previously admitted that he sold and optioned land to Stark for his proposed retail/residential project around Lear-Nagel Road. The audit estimated that DiBenedetto could make as much as $5 million if the Stark/Jacobs project succeeds.

Rival developer Mitchell Schneider, who has alleged for months that Stark and Jacobs were working behind the scenes to kill his Avon Commons shopping center, said the report comes as no surprise, but refused to speculate on whether Krystowski was involved in the alleged plot.

''That part of it is over,'' Schneider said. ''Because the (Nov. 3 [1998] election in which Avon Commons was defeated by voters) has taken place.''

In addition to his involvement with the Stark/Jacobs shopping center, DiBenedetto was granted unprecedented sewer exceptions when developing two residential subdivisions -- Woodmore and Camelot Farms.

''No other developer in the city was given this consideration to be reimbursed for sewer upgrades and have the City collect on their behalf,'' the report states.

The report goes on to say that DiBenedetto is one of the ''last builders'' that members of the city's planning board and building department would like to see in the city, because the builders to whom DiBenedetto sells lots ''continuously try to cut-corners and if not closely inspected by the building department will violate the City's building code whenever they can in order to save money.''

While the auditors said they could not prove that Krystowski received any money from DiBenedetto, they did say they were ''curious as to why the developer that is given preferential treatment happens to be the developer that has a low rating on their performance and quality of work.''

Throughout the report, the auditors repeatedly describe Krystowski as a powerful leader able to sway other council members into voting his way. As an example, they cited a meeting in January of 1998 which was adjourned before any business was done, because Krystowski was absent.

''It appears as if there are no leaders in Council,'' the audit states. ''With four veteran councilman, Council still is not able to transact City business without the leadership of Krystowski.''

New Councilmen Jack Kilroy and Shaun Brady were an unwelcome addition, according to the auditors, who said that Kilroy seems to have been ''singled out'' by Krystowski.

After reading minutes of an April 1998 meeting where Krystowski called for two special meetings that week, the auditors wrote: ''(Brady and Kilroy) do not always go along with what the Council President wants. It appears as if the Council President is calling the two special meetings so the other Council Members will feel resentment towards the two members who are on vacation.'' ...

County Prosecutor White said his office is continuing its lengthy investigation of Krystowski.

''We're almost wrapped up with what we're doing over there,'' White said. ''We hope to finish soon and then we'll make a decision. I suspect it will be a few weeks.""

COMMENTARY from THE CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM (1-1-99) By John Lundy, Editorial Page Editor

"REVEALED: REALLY BIG NEWS EVENTS OF 1999

You saw it here first: The big news events of 1999.

... MARCH 23 -- Richard Jacobs announces he is annexing the City of Avon. A spokesman for Jacobs assures anxious residents no major changes are planned and they will be allowed to remain in their homes.

APRIL 2 -- Richard Jacobs announces the entire City of Avon will be his next mall project, although some homes will remain standing. 'This will be bigger than the Mall of America,' a spokesman for Jacobs says, while promising the development will be sensitive to the needs of the local residents.

... JUNE 6 -- The Dow-Jones industrial average breaks the 12,000 mark, largely on the strength of an Internet service a 9-year-old Elyria boy thought of during recess.

... SEPT. 21 -- President Gore ... His first priority, Gore tells the nation, will be reversing the trend toward global warming.

OCT. 15 -- Below-zero temperatures grip the northern third of the nation for the ninth straight day. Scientists warn of a new ice age ...

NOV. 17 -- Fishermen report spotting icebergs in Lake Erie.

DEC. 9 -- Glacier engulfs Duluth, Minn. Ski slopes open in Duluuth, Ga.

DEC. 29 -- Eagle Scouts from Lorain County become the first group to walk across frozen Lake Erie from Ohio to Canada.

DEC. 30 -- Lorain County commissioners announce a study committee to start working on that Y2K problem."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 1-5-99, By JIM VICKERS, Morning Journal Writer

"Avon mall may get second chance

AVON -- City Council plans to review what role it may play in bringing the original Avon Commons retail development issue back to the ballot after a citizen requested help giving the failed proposal another try.

Avon resident Bob Barnhart appealed to City Council before last night's work session to place the rezoning for Developer Mitchell Schneider's Avon Commons proposal before voters a second time after the measure failed by 47 votes in November.

''Looking at the history of issues and levies in Avon, most that fail on the first attempt are successful at a second attempt,'' Barnhart said.

The Willow Road resident said he would make a personal commitment to help get the issue back on the ballot if possible.

Schneider spent more than $100,000 to promote the rezoning of 85 acres of land along Detroit Road for a ''first rate,'' extensively landscaped shopping complex. But, rival developers Richard Jacobs and Robert Starks, who have their own plans for it's own mega-development shopping center near Lear-Nagel Road and I-90, spent about $50,000 campaigning against the zoning change. Residents who live near the proposed development also campaigned against the development.

Law Director Daniel Stringer told council he did not believe the city could place the rezoning on the ballot by itself, but said he would have to further research what role council could play in reviving the issue.

Council President Ted Graczyk asked that the Avon Commons topic be included on the agenda for the next City Council work session.

Schneider, who did not attend last night's meeting, has presented city planners with an alternate plan for his Avon Commons site that includes a gradual development of the 85 acres for retail and office use that complies with the current zoning.

Schneider hopes to break ground for his first 10-acre phase of development by summer, but said previously he would far rather go back to his original plan if he gets the support of the local residents and city leaders.

Stringer said last night City Council does have the authority to allow citizens to vote on Avon Commons as a gauge of public support.

''(That) is testing the wind ...the other is placing something on the ballot of a legal nature and asking citizens to vote on it.''

Councilman Sean Brady said last night he supports the idea of City Council simply voting on the Avon Commons zoning change itself. He said he believes the public would be supportive of such and move.

''I don't feel we need a vote of the public to test the wind,'' Brady said."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 1-6-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"Big new store due in Avon at I-90 and Colorado Avenue

AVON -- Developer Mitchell Schneider now plans to build a 100,000-square-foot building on Colorado Avenue, after Avon voters said he can't build superstores on Detroit Road. [For map, go to Plan B].

One of the tenants that Schneider had planned for his failed Avon Commons shopping center now will be located on 13 acres at the southeast corner of I-90 and Colorado (SR611), Schneider said.

''Even though (the new site) is a mile and a half to the west, our client believes that Avon is an exceptional community well-positioned for growth and with the right demographics for their typical customer base,'' Schneider said.

Schneider declined to reveal the name of his prospective tenant, which is likely to be a store such as Wal-Mart, Target or Home Depot, given the size of the store being built.

Schneider, who has an option to buy the Colorado Avenue land, refused to say how much the land will cost him.

Plans for the Colorado Avenue site are to be revealed at the Jan. 13 Planning Commission meeting.

Schneider said he began looking at the property after his proposed Avon Commons shopping center was defeated by 47 votes in November. Since then, he has also introduced plans to develop his Detroit Road land with a series of smaller projects.

However, after Avon Commons appeared to be dead, city officials and some residents have asked if there is any way it can be revived.

Schneider said Avon Commons remains a possibility, but only if Avon residents take the necessary steps to put his project on the May ballot.

''It's always been my preference to develop the Avon Commons project,'' Schneider said. ''And if some group of citizens successfully placed this on the ballot, I think I've indicated in the past that I would be supportive of that effort.''

Still, Schneider said he will go forward with engineering plans for a project at I-90 and Colorado Avenue.

''We're not holding off on any of our plans,'' he said. ''I don't want to underestimate the lengths to which the Jacobs/Stark group and others might go to continue to try and protect their project by ensuring that the Avon Commons proposal doesn't succeed. All I can do is get out of their way and proceed in a different direction.''

Councilman Niels Jensen said he would support any drive to put Avon Commons on the May ballot.

''I don't mind putting it back on the ballot again,'' Jensen said. ''I think the people of Avon should decide what they want. I think we only could gain by putting a first-class shopping center in there if we have to have one.''

Schneider will reveal his plans for the Colorado Avenue site at the Jan. 13 [1999] Planning Commission meeting."

COMMUNITY PULSE... AND OPINION, The PRESS, 1-6-99, By R.J. Hemmer

"Krystowski gets slam from Columbus. It appears former Avon Councilman Ed Krystowski has taken it on the chin from state auditors regarding his handling of past situations as Avon Council President.

Krystowski, who resigned last May after taking serious and justifiable heat for selling equipment to developers and then voting on their projects was the subject of a 65-page auditor review.

The report was the result of an investigation that was conducted through the review of minutes of Avon Council meetings.

Ed Krystowski should have known better than to sell equipment to developers and then vote on their developments. It smelled wrong, looked wrong and was the wrong thing to do. He had two choices: either don't vote or better yet don't sell the equipment.

The other findings in the 65-page report relate to how some developers may have received better treatment than others. I don't know how you can come to that type of conclusion through council minutes, but it appears a good portion of the report represents that approach. ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from The PRESS, 1-6-99, By JoAnne Easterday

"If at first you don't succeed ...

Schneider options C-3 land on Colorado Ave.

AVON -- Developer Mitchell Schneider of First Interstate Development has an option on the only land zoned for C-3 development in the city of Avon.

The 13 acre piece of land is located on Colorado Avenue, close to Interstate 90. The informal site plan will be presented to planning commission at their work session scheduled for Wednesday, January 13.

Schneider said that he has a client who is interestsesd in building a large 100,000 square foot retail establishment in the city. Schneider said that client does not wish to locate in Sheffield Village. He wants to build in Avon, the developer said.

"There is no assurance that something will happen," said Schneider, but plans are in the works.

It has been estimated that only one building of that size could be situated on the site considering the parking and green space requirements of C-3 development.

A front portion of the site is zoned for C-2 development and may lend itself to a small strip mall or out building establishments.

It is not known if Schneider is still hoping for a revival of plans for Avon Commons as well as developing this new proposal.

There is a movement afoot among the residents to plan further education regarding the C-2/C-3 zoning at the site of Schneider's original plan to locate large "box stores" at the site east of SR 83 and north of Detroit Road.

Those citizens may bring the idea again to the ballot for citizens to reconsider the Avon Commons development."

NEWS ARTICLE from The PRESS, 1-6-99, By Megan Williams

"... Sanitary Sewer Discussed

The only other item on the [Planning Commission] agenda last Wednesday [12-30-98] was an informal presentation by Robert Papotto for First Interstate Development Company. Papotto discussed possible changes to a future Detroit Rd. sanitary sewer line, in an attempt to get advice from the Planning Commission.

The proposed change was running the sewer through the center of the property [85 acres], rather than running it along the North end of the property. Consulting Engineer Gar Downing said that the spirit of the Master Plan is being met as long as the entire property can be served by that sewer.

Commissioners Burik and Thomas Wearsch ... They proposed a different method which Burik felt would have more direct routing and would possibly be a better choice.

However, Downing stated that both methods seem feasible, and First Interstate should examine them both more closely to see which is more beneficial to the city of Avon."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM (1-7-99) By Mike Sakal

"Jacobs ready to unveil Avon plan

... Revised plans for a major project proposed by developers Robert Stark and Richard Jacobs should be completed next week, said Thomas Henneberry, the executive vice president of the Richard E. Jacobs Group Inc. in Cleveland. "... I would hope that we're ready to go before Planning Commission sometime in February [1999],'' Henneberry said.

... Stark last presented plans for the project before City Council and the Planning Commission on March 2, 1998. It was the group's only public appearance before the city officials. Avon Mayor James Smith, however, said Jacobs has met with him on a few occasions at City Hall to discuss the plan. Part of the Stark-Jacobs plan includes a shopping center north of I-90 with a hotel and a gas station near the [proposed Nagel Rd.] interchange.

... The announcement from the Stark-Jacobs group comes after developer Mitchell Schneider announced new plans to put in a superstore with more than 100,000 square feet at I-90 and Colorado Avenue. ... The property, which now is undeveloped, is owned by Alex Kanareff, president of Kanareff Homes Inc. in Westlake. ... Schneider is scheduled to discuss his project with the Avon Planning Commission at a meeting at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 13 at City Hall, 36080 Chester Road.

... Schneider said he started considering the Colorado Avenue site soon after voters rejected a rezoning request in the November that would have accommodated his proposed Avon Commons shopping center. ... Schneider now is moving forward with new plans for that site, despite ... residents who say they want the rezoning request placed on the ballot again.

"I would be supportive of their efforts, but the voters already have rejected a request to rezone that land,'' Schneider said. "We are proceeding with our plans for the Avon Business Park development.'' In addition to office buildings, Schneider's new plan for that site also would include smaller retail shops."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM (1-12-99) By Mike Sakal

"Avon may allow rezoning votes without petitions

AVON -- City Council could draft an ordinance that would allow it to put the Avon Commons shopping center rezoning issue before voters again, at-large Councilman Shaun Brady said Monday [1-11-99].

At a Council meeting Monday, Brady said he was interested in creating an ordinance that would let Council place commercial rezoning issues on the ballot without circulating petitions.

Such an ordinance could give the defeated Avon Commons rezoning request a second chance at the polls.

"I would like to look into the possibilities of getting Avon Commons back on the ballot,'' Brady said. "It would be something worth looking into.''

But Council President Ted Graczyk Jr. ... questioned whether Council would support such an ordinance.

... The proposed ordinance will be discussed at a Council work session at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 19 at City Hall, 36080 Chester Road. The meeting will take place on Tuesday because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday.

... Schneider, the president of First Interstate Development Co. in Pepper Pike, now is proposing office buildings and smaller retail shops for the site. Current zoning [as defined by Judge Thomas Janas] at the site [on Detroit Rd.] prohibits the larger stores he had wanted to build as part of Avon Commons.

Schneider is scheduled to discuss the revised project at the Planning Commission meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20, at City Hall. ..." [Sewers for the Detroit Rd. site will be discussed at the Planning Commission meeting at 7:30 pm, Wednesday, Jan. 13, as well as the super-store to be built near I-90 and SR-611.]

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 1-13-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"AVON - An Avon resident has begun a last-ditch drive to revive the proposed Avon Commons shopping center ... former Avon Schools Superintendent Bob Barnhart said ... 'I am in the very early stages ... we're at least going to give it our best effort.'

... To put the issue on the ballot in May, Barnhart said he will need signatures from 2,000 registered Avon voters. Already ... he has recruited the help of about 40 Avon residents. ... 'There was a lot of time spent on Avon Commons by our Planning Commission. It appeared to me that they had negotiated a very high quality shopping area. Since we know we're going to have a shopping center, I think we should get the highest quality. And that's Avon Commons.'

... Despite Barnhart's efforts, Schneider said he must proceed with his plans to develop his Detroit Road land under the current zoning guidelines. ... 'There's no assurance that they will be successful in getting this on the ballot. Even if it is on the ballot, there is no assurance that it will pass given the fact we know that (Richard Jacobs and Robert Stark) have an active interest in defeating it and are prepared to spend significant money to do so.'

... Still Barnhart remains optimistic. ... 'Sometimes you just have to step forward and be counted and take a position. That's the way I felt.'"

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 1-20-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"Avon Commons splits council

AVON -- City Council members in Avon are split on whether to support a citizen-led drive that would give the Avon Commons shopping center one more chance by placing it on the ballot this spring.

At last night's council work session [1-19-99], Councilman Shaun Brady proposed that members pass a resolution showing support for Avon resident Bob Barnhart's attempt to gather the signatures needed to put the 84-acre project along Detroit Road on the ballot.

Although a zoning change needed for Avon Commons to go forward failed on the ballot last November by a narrow margin, Barnhart maintains many Avon residents voted against the shopping center under the impression that a ''no'' vote would stop all commercial development on Detroit Road.

Now that Schneider has submitted plans to develop his land with a series of smaller projects that many say lack creativity and unity, Barnhart and some city officials feel the original project should be voted on one last time before Schneider begins building his alternate project.

''I'm just an Avon citizen who feels the best opportunity for our Avon community has been passed by,'' Barnhart said.

Brady -- along with Councilman Jack Kilroy -- said Barnhart's campaign may be the only chance the city has to revive Avon Commons. Council had considered the idea of putting the shopping center on the ballot itself, but decided there was not enough time to pass the required legislation.

''My biggest concern is that the project that's going forward is not at all what I'd like to see on Detroit Road,'' Brady said. ''The project as it was originally proposed is much better than the one that's proposed now.''

Kilroy said the issue comes down to a simple choice between good and bad planning.

''It's fortunate that we have -- at this point in history -- a choice to make,'' Kilroy said. ''I would hope that everybody on council ... supports the best choice for Avon or, at least, lets people know where they stand.''

Council President Ted Graczyk, however, said the matter is a private one and city officials should not get involved -- a view supported by Gerald Phillips ...

''Council shouldn't meddle,'' Phillips said. ''They should stay out of it.''

Council will vote Monday on whether to pass the resolution supporting the drive to put Avon Commons to a vote. ...

Barnhart said he has hired a lawyer to help him select a date for the special election and is leaning toward June 1. He estimated that he will need about 2,000 signatures to force a special election."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM (1-21-99) By Mike Sakal

"Lawyer disputes legality of Schneider plan OK

AVON -- The Planning Commission approved initial site plans for the Avon Business Office Park and the Park Square Shopping Center on Wednesday [1-20-99].

But attorney Gerald Phillips questioned the legality of the approval process for the project, which replaces the proposed Avon Commons shopping center on 85 acres along Detroit Road.

The commission approved the preliminary plans 4-0. Planning Commission Chairman Jim Piazza abstained.

The zoning at the site allows the project that developer Mitchell Schneider wants, but, Phillips said, there were potential problems with approving it without final sewer, drainage and storm water plans. ...

Schneider said he would conform to whatever the Planning Commission prefers concerning landscaping, sign and parking lot requirements.

Schneider appeared before planners on Dec. 29 for an informal presentation on the revised project, which includes three 6,000-square-foot office buildings and one 20,000-square-foot office building on the west side of the property.

The proposed Middleton Road divides the development, with the retail stores on the east side, according to the revised plan.

Schneider said he hopes to appear before Planning Commission sometime in February for a special meeting to get final plan approval. A public hearing would be required before final approval is granted."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 1-26-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"Quest for Avon mall shot down

AVON -- City Council failed to pass a resolution supporting a community drive to put the proposed Avon Commons retail development back on the ballot last night, but resident Bob Barnhart said he will continue his quest to revive the shopping center anyway. ...

The 85-acre Detroit Road shopping center failed by a 47-vote margin on last November's ballot -- leading its developer, Mitchell Schneider, to propose alternative plans for the land that do not require a zoning change.

Those plans, which feature a series of smaller projects, were criticized by many residents and city officials as an inferior project. ...

The resolution was not passed last night because Council President Ted Graczyk and Councilman Niels Jensen voted against a suspension of Council's regular rules, which would have allowed council to either pass or fail the resolution last night.

Graczyk said he does not support the resolution because he thinks council should not become involved in the revival of Avon Commons -- even though he said he doesn't like Schneider's revised plans.

''It's not the quality development we hoped to be getting,'' he said. ''But Mr. Schneider is moving forward with his plans.''

Schneider, however, said he could still change courses if voters approve the original Avon Commons plans this June.

First, Barnhart must gather the nearly 2,000 signatures he needs to put the defeated shopping center on the ballot for one last shot.

Barnhart said he ... hopes to hold a meeting this Saturday [1-30-99] to organize the campaign. ''I'd like to get started by the first of February,'' he said."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM (1-26-99) By Mike Sakal

"... Avon resident Robert Barnhart is one of the residents spearheading an attempt to collect enough signatures to place a second rezoning request for Avon Commons on the ballot. Barnhart said he hopes to have the petitions ready for circulation in the next two days.

Barnhart said his goal is to collect more than 2,000 valid signatures by March 2. That would give Council sufficient time to place the issue on a June 1 special election ballot. ...

The Planning Commission already has approved Schneider's revised plans for a business office park and smaller retail shops at the site.

Graczyk said that the new project conforms to the zoning of the property. "While the new project is not the quality of the development Mitchell Schneider wanted to build, he is moving forward ...,'' Graczyk said."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE PLAIN DEALER, 1-26-98, By Rich Exner

"Petitions to seek Avon retail center

AVON - A group led by a former Avon schools superintendent plans to begin a petition drive aimed at getting a major shopping center built in Avon.

Robert Barnhart said Avon Commons, as proposed near Interstate 90 and Ohio 83, would give residents convenient shopping while also providing the schools and the city an improved tax base. ...

Linda Eadelis, who lives on a street next to the proposed Avon Commons site, said she would oppose the issue as she did during the fall campaign.

... The Richard E. Jacobs Group and Robert L. Stark Enterprises are working jointly on a separate major retail project.

Residents of Lorain County's fastest-growing community "have to travel through Avon to get to the Promenade in Westlake. Or they have to travel west to get to the new shopping center proposed in Sheffield, or Midway Mall," Barnhart said. "Let's keep some of the tax money in Avon."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM (1-28-99) By Mike Sakal

"Ballot try starting for Avon Commons

AVON -- Former Avon Schools Superintendent Robert Barnhart said he and 22 others will begin to knock on doors throughout the city this weekend to drum up support for the original Avon Commons project.

Barnhart wants to get at least 1,979 signatures on a petition to get the Avon Commons rezoning issue placed on the ballot for a second time.

"We need to hustle, but if we don't get the required signatures by March 2, we wouldn't push beyond that. We'll give it a shot and see what happens,'' Barnhart said. ...

Barnhart, who currently is the interim superintendent at Clearview Schools in Sheffield Township, supports the original plan because of the tax revenue it would generate, he said. ...

"Within the last two years, 600 houses were built in Avon. Within the next two years, there will be another 500. Why let all that money leave Avon to go shopping elsewhere when they have a chance to do it here?''

Barnhart said $1.2 million in revenue would be generated annually for the schools if the project went forward.

Schneider faces several obstacles, including a competing proposal by developers Robert Stark and Richard Jacobs, owner of the Cleveland Indians, who want to build a retail/residential development less than two miles from the Avon Commons site.

The Stark-Jacobs complex would be located on about 800 acres both north and south of Interstate 90 between Jaycox and Lear-Nagle roads. The groups has options to purchase property south of I-90 and is expected to finalize a purchase of 224 acres north of I-90 next month."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 1-28-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"AVON - Several people came forward and accused Council President Ted Graczyk of having a conflict of interest after he admitted attorney Gerald Phillips, who led a campaign against the proposed Avon Commons shopping center, conducted free legal work for him. ...

[Council member] Brady ... suggested Avon Law Director Dan Stringer seek a ruling from the Ohio Ethics Commission. ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE SUN, 1-28-99, By CHANEL CHAMBERS, Staff Writer

"The state of affairs surrounding the project formerly known as Avon Commons is becoming more complex each day.

... A group of residents mounted a campaign to gather 2,000 signatures to put the question back on the ballot. ... Council is entertaining a resolution to support the residents ...

In contrast to Phillip's statement that Council should remain neutral on ballot issues, Ward 4 Councilperson Jack Kilroy said Council never has been neutral, and shouldn't be when it comes to the welfare of the residents.

'We favor things that are good for the community and for the health, safety and welfare of the residents,' Kilroy said. ... As examples, Kilroy cites Council's public ... support of last year's road levy.

... Kilroy said a compelling reason to revisit the [Avon Commons] issue is that voters were confused by the rhetoric surrounding the campaign. ... 'It has become clear that many citizens felt mislead by the campaign,' he said.

Council also has received letters from residents stating they would change their votes if they could.

'If people felt that they were misled and want another chance to vote on it, I think they should be able to.' he said. 'The people have a right to have another look at it. It's an important issue.' ..."

Newspaper Record of Stark/Jacobs in Avon

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

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