Newspaper Record of STARK/JACOBS in Avon,
Ohio, March, 1998, through June, 1998

Home (Main Menu)

NEWS ARTICLE from THE PRESS (3-18-98) by JoAnne Easterday:

"... Krystowski said in the past he had been 'on the fence' on his opinion of the 800-acre development proposed by Stark/ Jacobs. ... The councilman said he now actually favors this development. ...."

GRENDELL AND PHILLIPS RENEW THEIR ASSAULT ON AVON WITH "COMMANDO TACTICS" IN THE COURT OF JUDGE THOMAS JANAS.

NEWS ARTICLE from the MORNING JOURNAL (3-24-98) by Colleen Mytnick:

"Attorney[s] Gerald Phillips [and Timothy Grendell] succeeded in stopping the city's approval process for Mitchell Schneider's 84-acre Avon Commons strip mall -- at least temporarily. Lorain County Commons Pleas Judge Thomas Janas yesterday granted Phillips a stay order which, if upheld, will prevent the Avon Planning Commission from approving part of Schneider's project tomorrow night [3-25-98]."

NEWS ARTICLE from the CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM (3-24-98) by Mike Sakal:

"... Avon attorney Gerald Phillips and Independence attorney Timothy Grendell filed an appeal Monday with the city's zoning board and Lorain County Common Pleas Court. They dispute the Zoning Board of Appeal's Feb. 26 decision that the land Avon Commons would be built on does not need to be rezoned to accommodate superstores.

... C-2 zoning restricts the amount of land and building size involved in a commercial development. C-3 zoning is less restrictive. Council unanimously voted Monday [3-23-98] to seek a clarification about what the city's zoning code says about C-2 and C-3 zoning.

... Schneider, the president of First Interstate Development Co. of Pepper Pike, said he had not received prior notice about the court filing Monday. `Attorneys Gerald Phillips and Timothy Grendell went into the courthouse with commando-style tactics demanding a stay order from the judge,' Schneider said. `The stay order is subject to another hearing Wednesday [3-25-98], and we'll go from there. '"

NEWS ARTICLE from the SUN (3-26-98) by Michael Kazimore:

"After complaining that officials delayed putting a charter amendment on the May 5 [1998] ballot, Gerry Phillips, a local attorney, put the City in a little time crunch of its own. ... Stringer, who said the new case would cost the city 'a lot of money,' said he was displeased with the timing of the Phillips' filing. ...

'I'm a little upset because (Phillips) went in and filed without any effort to notify me or the city,' Stringer said. 'It was done without giving the city an opportunity to respond. This isn't something that just popped up overnight. (Phillips) had ample time to notify us of his intentions, but he tried to slip it by instead. ...."

NEWS ARTICLE from the MORNING JOURNAL (3-26-98) by Colleen Mytnick:

"... Judge Thomas W. Janas threw out attorney Gerald Phillips' lawsuit which claimed that developer Mitchell Schneider's 84-acre mall site on Detroit Road is not zoned correctly for a strip mall. Freed by the courts to take action on Avon Commons, the Planning Commission granted preliminary plat approval last night [3-25-98]. ... Although Phillips' lawsuit was dismissed in court yesterday, Phillips, who represents 19 property owners, said he plans to file another. Janas dismissed the case because the minutes from the February Zoning Board of Appeals meeting where the zoning was ruled to be correct were not yet available, ...

'Yesterday's ruling came after a two-hour morning court hearing where Phillips, who lives across the street from the proposed strip mall, testified -- a move which the judge allowed, but Avon Law Director Dan Stringer objected to. "If you are an attorney representing people in a case you're not supposed to testify,'' Stringer said. 'It's not a legal matter. It's more of an ethical question.' ...

The Planning Commission must now wait 29 days before it can approve the final subdivision plat and the final development plan. City Council will then review the development and cast a final vote."

NEWS ARTICLE from the CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM (3-26-98) by Mike Sakal

"... Schneider said he has requested a special work session with the Planning Commission on April 22 [1998] to seek approval of the next step of Avon Commons. ... [Judge] Janas ... ruled the stay order was premature because the Zoning Board of Appeals had not approved the minutes of its meeting.

Phillips said city officials are holding up approval of the minutes in order to move Schneider's project ahead. Phillips said he will be at tonight's [3-26-98] Zoning Board of Appeals meeting at City Hall to get a copy of the minutes. He plans to request another stay order from the court."

NEWS ARTICLE from the MORNING JOURNAL (4-15-98) by Colleen Mytnick:

"AVON -- The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a proposed charter change to give Avon voters a say on future retail development must be placed on the May 5 ballot.

The unanimous ruling was a victory for Gerald Phillips, ...

Avon Commons developer Mitchell Schneider said ... that the charter change would not affect his strip mall. ...

Specifically, the charter change would not apply because it is worded so that it would only govern ordinances passed by City Council, Schneider said. In the case of Avon Commons, the City Planning Commission approves the site plan, with Council merely approving the developer's agreement.

But if Avon Commons were somehow forced to go to a vote of the people, Schneider said he believes rival developers Robert L. Stark and Richard Jacobs would attempt to campaign against his project.

The Jacobs/Stark team has presented the city with plans for what some say would be the biggest such project in the state: an 800-acre development, including a 150-acre shopping center to be centered around a new I-90 interchange at Lear-Nagel Road.

At a meeting in Avon last year, Stark said, 'There will not be two shopping centers here.'

'I think (Jacobs and Stark) would be committed to spending tremendous sums of money to persuade the public to vote against Avon Commons,' Schneider said. ...."

GRENDELL AND PHILLIPS AGAIN ATTACK AVON IN THE COURT OF JUDGE THOMAS JANAS.

NEWS ARTICLE from the MORNING JOURNAL (4-21-98) by Colleen Mytnick:

"AVON -- Three attorneys [Timothy Grendell, Gerald Phillips, and Tom Smith] representing 13 Avon residents yesterday [4-20-21] asked a judge to bar the city from taking any action on the proposed Avon Commons strip mall until a zoning dispute is resolved by the court.

Following a hearing yesterday that lasted nearly five hours, Judge Thomas W. Janas in Lorain County Common Pleas Court said he will rule on the request by tomorrow [4-22-98] -- the same day the Avon Planning Commission is to vote on final approval for the strip mall development.

The city's zoning board already ruled that the project's land is zoned correctly, ...

Schneider, however, questioned the motives behind the request for a delay and suggested that rival developers Richard Jacobs and Robert L. Stark may be behind the full-court legal press.

'If they can stop (Avon Commons), they'll destroy it without the court ever ruling,' said Schneider's lawyer Sheldon Berns. ...

As evidence that there may be a connection between the Jacobs/Stark team and the move to stop Avon Commons, Berns told the court that two of the attorneys working with Phillips, Tom Smith and Timothy Grendell, have also worked for Stark in the past. ..."

JUDGE JANAS NEXT FINDS THAT THE LATEST SUIT BROUGHT BY PHILLIPS, SMITH, AND GRENDELL DOES NOT HAVE ENOUGH MERIT TO WARRANT A STAY TO PREVENT AVON FROM ACTING ON AVON COMMONS.

NEWS ARTICLE from the MORNING JOURNAL (4-23-98) by Colleen Mytnick:

"AVON -- The Avon Commons shopping center is one step away from a summer groundbreaking after the Avon Planning Commission voted last night [4-22-98] to recommend the 84-acre project to City Council for final approval.

... Developer Mitchell Schneider yesterday won a small battle when a judge ruled that the strip mall can continue its climb through the city approval process while the lawsuit over the zoning is pending.

The ruling by Judge Thomas Janas in Lorain County Common Pleas Court came just hours before the Planning Commission was scheduled to vote on the strip mall.

... The strip mall plans now go to council for three readings, the last step in the lengthy approval process.

The one hitch is that council can not approve the development before the zoning dispute is settled in court, according to Janas' ruling.

Schneider said he will break ground in July if a court upholds the Avon Zoning Board decision that the zoning is proper.

... In addition to Schneider's strip mall, rival developers Richard Jacobs and Robert L. Stark are planning a massive 800-acre development ...

Other residents, however, said they are pleased with Schneider's plans, especially the five-acre winding walkway which could provide a site for summer concerts, art festivals or farmers markets.

"It's convenient, and it will benefit us,'' said Jill Plas. "I think it's nice the way it's set up, and the way he's put the buffers around it.''

For Planning Commission members, last night's approval marked the end of a series of meetings on the biggest project they have ever tackled.

"We have reviewed this subject matter for nearly the past six months,'' said board member Paul Burik. "We've been given hundreds and hundreds of pieces of paper. I could start my own library.''

Board member Tom Wearsch thanked Schneider for his patience and apologized for the "distractions'' caused by Phillips.

"It's been an experience for me and I think an experience for all of us,'' Wearsch said.

Schneider, who now faces legal challenges and City Council, said simply: "We will continue.''

NEWS ARTICLE from the MORNING JOURNAL (4-29-98) by Colleen Mytnick:

"AVON -- Prompted by scrutiny from state auditors, City Council plans to review Avon's charter and possibly add provisions to reimburse city officials for phone calls made to discuss city business.

... Meanwhile, state auditors are still examining city records -- a stay that has lasted longer than previous year's annual fiscal reviews, said Finance Director Bob Hamilton.

... In fact, City Council appropriated an additional $8,000 Monday night to cover the additional time spent by the auditors in Avon. The total bill came to just under $30,000.

... In September of last year, The Morning Journal reported that Krystowski installed a special phone line in his Wellington business to conduct city business.

Records show the city reimbursed Krystowski for $1,014.66 worth of telephone bills, including a $39.54 monthly service charge.

... The phone bills show calls to other council members, developer David DiBenedetto, Mayor Jim Smith, law offices, commercial real estate firms and numerous other individuals and businesses.

"To my knowledge, it was all city business,'' said Hamilton.

The Morning Journal's article on the phone line was part of a multi-part series examining the relationship between city officials and developers.

Shortly after article was published, Krystowski had the line disconnected, said Hamilton. He also reimbursed the city for all of the phone calls late last year. ...

NEWS ARTICLE from THE PRESS (4-29-98) by Jennifer Hickin

"AVON -- Council members voiced their opposition to Issue 18, the proposed charter amendment allowing Avon residents to vote on rezoning issues.

... Shaun Brady, council member, said, 'I hope Issue 18 fails because it is misleading. However, I think the spirit of it needs to be reviewed... there are some good points.'

... Council member Jack Kilroy, said, 'Consider the source... consider the track record in opposing the library and the new high school.' Kilroy also said he urged a no vote on Issue 18. ...."

NEWS ARTICLE from the MORNING JOURNAL (5-4-98) by Colleen Mytnick:

"AVON -- Mayor Jim Smith and other city officials are urging residents to vote against local attorney Gerald Phillips' proposal to change the city charter ...

... Instead, Smith is suggesting the city take the best parts of the proposal and make those changes when the city charter is reviewed. City Council is currently recruiting residents to sit on the charter review commission.

Phillips ... has continuously expressed frustration over the approval process for Avon Commons, an 84-acre strip mall proposed for Detroit Road, near Phillips home.

Phillips contends that Avon's Planning Commission put the strip mall on the fast track and approved it without a thorough review. He is suing the city on the grounds that the strip mall's future home is not zoned correctly for it.

Planning Commission member Tom Wearsch, however, testified in court that no project in Avon has ever been scrutinized like Avon Commons.

But even if Phillips's charter change receives voter approval, city officials said Avon Commons would be grandfathered from it. The only way it could apply is if the Lorain County Common Pleas Court rules that the land is zoned incorrectly as Phillips contends."

NEWS ARTICLE from the MORNING JOURNAL (5-6-98) by Colleen Mytnick:

"AVON -- City officials praised Avon voters for saving the city from lawsuits, time and headaches last night [5-5-95] as voters defeated attorney Gerald Phillips' proposed charter amendment ..."

Unofficial results from the Lorain County Board of Elections show that 1,719 citizens voted NO (61%) while 1,109 (31%) voted for the charter amendment.

NEWS ARTICLE from the MORNING JOURNAL (5-7-98) by Colleen Mytnick:

"AVON -- Even though attorney Gerald Phillips's proposed charter change to give voters a say on retail development was defeated Tuesday night [5-5-95], parts of the proposal could live on in a different form, city officials said yesterday.

... the better parts of the proposal will be considered when the city charter is updated, Mayor Jim Smith said.

'There were 1,000 people who wanted some tighter restrictions,' Smith said. 'I would hope that we could please them. I think there has to be something in the charter.'

As an example, Smith cited Westlake, which has an ordinance requiring voter approval on the rezoning of any parcel of land 30 acres or bigger. ...

City Council is in the process of picking 9 members out of 20 who applied for the charter review commission, said Smith. The board should be formed within the next few weeks."

NEWS ARTICLE from the MORNING JOURNAL (5-9-98) by Colleen Mytnick:

"AVON -- Five members of Avon City Council took sides in the legal debate over the zoning of a proposed strip mall yesterday [5-8-98] when they filed affidavits stating that 84 acres on Detroit Road is not zoned for large shopping centers.

The zoning dispute -- which will be decided by Lorain County Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas W. Janas -- landed in court after attorney Gerald Phillips appealed the City Zoning Board's ruling that the land is zoned correctly for developer Mitchell Schneider's strip mall. City Law Director Dan Stringer and Chief Zoning Officer Bob Jackson also said the property is zoned correctly for the proposed Avon Commons mall.

Five members of City Council, however, disagree, including Shirley Piazza Doss, Ted Graczyk, Niels Jensen, David Kaiser and Council President Ed Krystowski. Only first-term councilmen Shaun Brady and Jack Kilroy did not file affadavits. ...

Notarized by Mrs. Doss' husband, William, the affidavits are identical except for Mrs. Doss', which does not make direct reference to Avon Commons. ...

The idea to file affadavits came up after a committee meeting when council members talked about the strip mall, said Jensen. ...

To Graczyk, the dispute is not only complicated, but unfortunate.

'It's a terrible situation,' he said. 'I find myself liking this Avon Commons project. Schneider's building a development that I think most people would be proud to have in their city. But we need a clarification of the zoning.' ...

Avon Commons is scheduled for first reading at Monday night's council meeting, ...

Final approval of the development can not be granted until the court rules on whether or not the land is zoned correctly. ...

Janas is scheduled to rule before June 8, the earliest possible date Avon Commons could receive final approval from Council.

If Schneider receives final approval, he plans to break ground this summer. ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from the MORNING JOURNAL (5-12-98) by Colleen Mytnick:

"AVON -- Councilmen Shaun Brady and Jack Kilroy accused Avon City Council President Ed Krystowski of trying to block the proposed Avon Commons development so that rival developers Richard Jacobs and Robert L. Stark can go forward with their 800-acre complex without competition. ...

The controversy erupted last night after Krystowski proposed that city council hire the law firm Squire, Sanders and Dempsey to represent [the 5 councilpersons submitting affidavits against Avon Commons] ...

'I'm just totally disheartened by the whole thing,' Brady said. 'Krystowski is obviously going to do everything in his power as council president to delay Avon Commons and possibly open the doors for Stark and Jacobs.' ...

Kilroy said he suspects Krystowski has hidden motives, citing as evidence the fact that local developer David DiBenedetto is negotiating with Krystowski to develop land owned by the Krystowski family trust. He said DiBenedetto was also involved in the early stages of the Stark/ Jacobs project.

On April 24, DiBenedetto told The Morning Journal that he was negotiating with Krystowski to develop family land off of French Creek Road, but said nothing had been finalized. He also confirmed that he still has control of about 100 acres of land eyed by Stark and Jacobs for their development. ...

'The only reason I can think of to stoop to these kinds of means is a personal agenda,' said Kilroy.

Later in the meeting, Kilroy suggested Krystowski doesn't 'belong in public service,' if he can't follow the rules and regulations. His statement was met with a burst of applause from the audience.

Brady and Kilroy further alleged that four members of City Council, including Krystowski, violated Ohio's open meetings law when they met after last Tuesday's [5-5-98] meeting to discuss affidavits they filed stating that the Avon Commons land is not zoned correctly for the project.

Councilwoman Shirley Piazza Doss denied the allegation and refused to offer an apology asked for by Brady. She said that, at most, only two council members were present after the meeting to discuss the affidavits.

However, Councilman Niels Jensen, confirmed that he, Krystowski, Mrs. Doss and Kaiser had an informal discussion about the Avon Commons lawsuit after the meeting. Ohio's open meetings law, commonly known as the Sunshine Law, states that a majority of council or a council committee can not discuss any city business outside of scheduled meetings.

Kilroy added that Mrs. Doss should not take any part in discussions about Avon Commons because her brother, Planning Commission Chair Jim Piazza, has a land interest in the development. Piazza has refrained from voting on or discussing Avon Commons. ...

'It is reasonably clear to any casual observer that Mr. Krystowski and Mrs. Doss are openly opposed to Avon Commons, for whatever their reasons,' Schneider wrote.

In yet another controversy stemming from the commercial boom to hit Avon, Mayor Jim Smith called upon the city's zoning officer, Bob Jackson, to refute claims that Smith has pressured him into ruling that the land for Avon Commons is zoned correctly.

'The mayor has never approached me to influence my decision,' Jackson said. 'Had he done so, I would have resigned on the spot.'

Judge Thomas W. Janas of Lorain County Commons Pleas Court said he will rule on the zoning dispute before June 8, the earliest date the project could receive final approval. ...."

THE PRESS: Letters to the Editor, 20 May 1998

"Thanks to Kilroy and Brady

To the Editor:

I want to thank Avon councilmen Shaun Brady and Jack Kilroy for standing up for honest government and not being involved in the recent affidavits that were filed. I am ashamed of the other councilpeople and their desire to run government from the backroom.

Susan C. Obral"

NEWS ARTICLE from the MORNING JOURNAL (5-23-98) by Colleen Mytnick:

"AVON -- The Ohio Ethics Commission ruled that Council President Ed Krystowski violated ethics laws by selling more than $50,000 in machinery to a developer and then voting on his project.

Krystowski, who was not available for comment yesterday, told The Morning Journal in August that he sold about $50,000 worth of equipment to Carnegie Management and Development Co. through his Wellington business, Krystowski Tractor Sales Inc. ...

In recent weeks, Krystowski has been accused of other conflicts of interest too.

Councilmen Shaun Brady and Jack Kilroy said Krystowski has a business relationship with Richard Jacobs and Robert L. Stark, the developers behind a proposal for an 800-acre commercial/residential/industrial project around Lear-Nagel Road.

The conflict, according to Brady and Kilroy, stems from the fact that Krystowski is negotiating with developer David DiBenedetto to have family land off French Creek road developed. DiBenedetto still controls some 100 acres of land eyed by Stark and Jacobs for their massive development. ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from the MORNING JOURNAL (5-27-98) by Colleen Mytnick:

"AVON -- Citing intimidation and intense scrutiny, long-time Avon Council President Ed Krystowski resigned from office at the end of last night's [5-26-98] council meeting. ...

On May 15, the Ohio Ethics Commission ruled that it was a conflict of interest for Krystowski, who owns Krystowski Tractor Sales Inc. in Wellington, to sell about $50,000 in equipment to Carnegie Management and Development Co. and then vote on the firm's proposal for a subdivision in Avon.

Krystowski said the ruling, which was reported in Saturday's edition of The Morning Journal, had no bearing on his decision to step down. He said he made his final decision while out of town over the weekend with his family. ...

Councilman Jack Kilroy -- who, along with Councilman Shaun Brady, has accused Krystowski of various conflicts of interests -- said last night he believes Krystowski's actions merit a criminal investigation. ...

Kilroy and Brady have also accused Krystowski of attempting to slow down the proposed 84-acre Avon Commons strip mall in an effort to eliminate competition for rival developers Richard Jacobs and Robert L. Stark, who are pushing for an 800-acre complex, but must first have the majority of the land rezoned.

The two councilmen said their accusations are supported by the fact that Krystowski is negotiating with local developer David DiBenedetto to have Krystowski family land developed. DiBenedetto has admitted that he controls other land that the Stark/Jacobs team needs for its project. ...

Brady commented earlier in the meeting that he believes the ethics board's report is 'just the start of findings that will show that (Krystowski) has broken the law.' He had no comment after Krystowski resigned.

Kilroy said simply: 'It is sad that someone has to end their long public service career in this way, but I think we have to live up to our code of ethics and take it seriously.' ...

Jackie Scott, a member of the city zoning board, took the floor near the end of the meeting and accused Brady and Kilroy of dirty politics. ...

Avon resident Joan Buchovich then came to the podium to defend Brady and Kilroy.

'I too wondered some of the questions that they asked,' she said. 'I don't think it's right to criticize them for asking questions.' ... "

[See the Avon Council Minutes of May 26, 1998, for more information.]

NEWS ARTICLE from the MORNING JOURNAL (5-28-98) by Colleen Mytnick:

"... [Krystowski] announced his resignation at Monday [5-26-98] night's council meeting -- three days after a ruling from the Ohio Ethics Commission was reported in The Morning Journal. ...

Krystowski and his allies, including several other council members, insist the former council president showed no preferential treatment toward Carnegie Management and Development Co., which bought the tractors.

"When Carnegie was voted on, it was unanimous,'' said Councilman Niels Jensen. "So what difference would it make if Krystowski would have abstained on it or not? I don't see any sense of prosecuting him for it.''

Council minutes, however, show that Krystowski's vote was crucial -- at least for one portion of the multi-phase Red Tail residential subdivision.

On April 14, 1997, Councilman Ted Graczyk said "this is a really tough decision,'' but that he would not vote to approve Carnegie's plans because of water retention problems, according to council minutes.

Krystowski then suggested council take action on the ordinance that night and resolve the problems at a later work session, according to minutes of the meeting.

The fourth phase of Red Tail subdivision was approved that night by a vote of 4 to 3, with Krystowski casting what would be the deciding fourth yes vote. ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from the MORNING JOURNAL (5-29-98) by Colleen Mytnick:

"Avon ends Journal ads, gets no bids on project

AVON -- The city of Avon received no construction bids on a park project after advertising in only one newspaper -- a policy started under the leadership of former Council President Ed Krystowski that the Mayor plans to change. ...

Since Jan. 1, Avon spent a total of $1,281.34 advertising in The Elyria Chronicle Telegram and $230.13 advertising in the weekly Avon Lake Press, according to Finance Director Bob Hamilton. Only $62.31 was spent on advertising in The Morning Journal.

Mayor Jim Smith recently issued a memo to interim Council President Ted Graczyk asking that the advertising practice be stopped. ...

Smith said choosing where bids are advertised is Council's decision, not his. ...

In his resignation speech, Krystowski said his decision to step down was 'in no way a reaction to the latest article in The Morning Journal.'

The article he referenced reported that the Ohio Ethics Commission ruled it was a conflict of interest for Krystowski, who owns a tractor store in Wellington, to sell about $50,000 worth of machinery to a developer and then vote on his projects.

In August and September of 1997, The Morning Journal also published a series of articles examining, among other things, the relationship between Krystowski and developers. "

NEWS ARTICLE from the MORNING JOURNAL (6-4-98) by Colleen Mytnick:

"AVON -- The credibility of a last-minute witness involved with the lawsuit to stop the proposed Avon Commons strip mall was questioned yesterday because land that her father owns might benefit if the development is halted.

[In fact, this property was subsequently sold to First Interstate to become part of the site of BJ's before the Avon Commons site was finally zoned C-3.]

The witness, former Planning Commission member Dawn West, [assisted by Jacobs attorney Tom Smith] filed an affidavit on Tuesday [6-2-98] claiming that city zoning laws don't allow the proposed 84-acre Avon Commons mall to be built on Detroit Road. ...

A ruling on the lawsuit is scheduled for Monday [6-8-98] in Lorain County Common Pleas Court.

Avon Law Director Dan Stringer and Schneider both said yesterday they intend to file a response to Mrs. West's affidavit today. They claim she may be biased because her father owns 12.7 acres near SR 611 and I-90 that will become the only place in Avon where superstores are allowed if the court rules against Avon Commons.

'I believe that if Ms. West were a public official she would have a conflict of interest that would preclude her from having any input into the situation because a member of her immediate family has a monetary interest in the outcome of this case,' Schneider said. ...

Mrs. West said Tom Smith, [Berns told the court that two of the attorneys working with Phillips, Tom Smith and Timothy Grendell, have also worked for Stark in the past] ...contacted her ...

Mrs. West's interpretation of the controversial zoning ordinance directly contradicts that of Planning Commission member Paul Burik and former Planning Commission member and City Councilman John Eldred.

Burik and Eldred testified in the lawsuit that the Planning Commission did intend for Schneider's land to be set aside for a large commercial project.

Further complicating the matter, Stringer said Ms. West was not even a member of Planning Commission when the zoning ordinance was discussed, but joined right before it was approved ...

The Avon Commons strip mall is scheduled to receive final approval June 8, the same day the court is scheduled to rule if the land is zoned correctly. If Avon City Council approves the project, Schneider said he hopes to break ground in July [1998] on his 625,000-square-foot shopping center. ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from the MORNING JOURNAL (6-9-98) by Colleen Mytnick:

"AVON -- Only a few hours after a judge ruled that the site of the proposed Avon Commons strip mall is improperly zoned for the project, developer Mitchell Schneider asked the City to rezone the land so that he can go forward with his 84-acre mall.

'I'm disappointed with the judge's decision,' said Schneider, the President of First Interstate Development. 'We do believe there is a broad spectrum of support in the community for this project at this location.' ...

Judge Thomas Janas ... overruled the opinions of the City's law director, the City's chief zoning officer and the City's Zoning Board. ...

Attorney Gerald Phillips ... said justice was served.

While Schneider asked for Avon Commons to be set aside from last night's council agenda, he said he is not giving up. Instead, he's asking City Council to rezone the land to the only classification the judge said permits large shop ping centers. He said he is also considering appealing the court's decision. ...

Everyone agreed on one thing: Yesterday's ruling was good news for developers Richard Jacobs and Robert L. Stark who are seeking to have other Avon land rezoned for a rival 800-acre retail/residential/industrial project to be centered around a proposed interchange at I-90 and Lear Nagel Road.

'Certainly they'll be sharing the headlines with the retailers with whom we're negotiating leases,' Schneider said. 'While this will create some uncertainty, I'm hopeful that our retailers will await the conclusion of our efforts to obtain the appropriate zoning for the property.'..."

NEWS ARTICLE from the MORNING JOURNAL (6-23-98) by Colleen Mytnick:

"AVON -- The proposed Avon Commons strip mall may have lost the first round of a legal battle over zoning, but developer Mitchell Schneider is not giving up. ...

The ruling was wrong, contends Schneider, because the law stipulates that if the wording of a zoning law is unclear, the court must rule in favor of the property owner.

'That's what's supposed to happen in the State of Ohio. That's the law. And the judge did indicate that he felt there was ambiguity to the language of the ordinance,' Schneider said. "Zoning ordinances are a restriction of the constitutional right to freely own and use property.'

Furthermore, Schneider said the judge ignored the testimony of two Planning Commission members who drafted the controversial zoning ordinance. ...."

NEWS ARTICLE from the MORNING JOURNAL (6-30-98) by Colleen Mytnick:

"AVON -- A rezoning request for the Avon Commons strip mall was approved last night [6-29-98] by the Avon Planning Commission. ...

Stark and Jacobs were not at last night's meeting, but Stark did send a letter to Planning Commission members and to city-hired consultant David Hartt urging that the land not be rezoned for Avon Commons. ..."

Again, from the historian's point of view, there is a key question: Why did Judge Janas rule against the City of Avon in favor of Grendell and Phillips (and Tom Smith) and the interests which these attorneys represent?

On April 22, 1998, Judge Janas found that the suit brought by Phillips, Smith, and Grendell did not have enough merit to warrant a stay to prevent Avon from acting on Avon Commons. What changed the Judge's mind between 4-22-98 and 6-8-98?

According to the journal entry of the Judge's decision, "it remains that the prior judicial determination by the Common Pleas Court and Ninth District Court of Appeals has established that Ordinance 53-90 created no reclassification of property." The previous case dealt with a parcel less than ten acres. The case decided on 6-8-98 dealt with a parcel of more than 80 acres.

Avon's zoning ordinance specifically states that if a project is more than 10 acres, the provisions of C3 apply in C2. Where is the connection between these cases, other than the involvement of Gerald Phillips?

Judge Janas seems to give great weight to the affidavit of Dawn West: "The affidavits of John Eldred and Dawn West, who were on the planning commission when Ordinance 53-90 was enacted, reflect disagreement as to the intent of the ordinance." Would not the appearance of Dawn West's affidavit at the last minute, like a rabbit out of a hat, indicate a desperate attempt to find straws to grasp?

What about the statement that Dawn West's "father owns 12.7 acres near SR 611 and I-90 that will become the only place in Avon where superstores are allowed if the court rules against Avon Commons?" (In fact, this property was subsequently sold to First Interstate to become part of the site of BJ's before the Avon Commons site was finally zoned C-3.)

What about Mr. Stringer's statement that "Ms. West was not even a member of Planning Commission when the zoning ordinance was discussed, but joined right before it was approved?"

John Eldred's Affidavit explains his thinking and that of Paul Burik when they wrote Ordinance 53-90.

Finally, what about the fact that, for more than 30 years, the owners of most of the site for Avon Commons have made no secret of their intention to have a shopping center developed on this property? Would the truth in this matter, if it ever could be known, also be stranger than any theory imaginable?

Newspaper Record of Stark/Jacobs in Avon

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

Home

Back to the top