Newspaper Record of STARK/JACOBS in Avon,
Ohio -- April 5, 1999 to April 20, 1999

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM (3-28-99) By Mike Sakal

"AVON - Developer Mitchell Schneider's attorney ... Richard D. Panza filed a motion Thursday [3-25-99] ... to disqualify attorneys Gerald Phillips and Timothy Grendell ...

On April 9, 1998, Panza ... had a letter delivered to [Stark/Jacobs] attorney Thomas Smith [head of the Board of Elections] of Elyria who then represented former Avon Council President Edward Krystowski's tractor sales business in Wellington.

In the letter, Panza accused Krystowski of moving forward with a land deal with developer David DiBenedetto of Westlake who had an interest in a project [now called Vista] proposed by developer Robert Stark and Cleveland Indians owner Richard E. Jacobs ... Krystowski resigned as Council President on May 26, 1998 ...

Investigators from the Lorain County Prosecutor's Office said some of Krystowski's transactions ... are under investigation ...."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 4-5-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"Lawsuit sparks wetlands debate Over legality of Avon wetlands law

AVON -- A lawsuit filed [2-23-99] by attorney Gerald Phillips against Avon Commons developer Mitchell Schneider has sparked a debate over the legality of Avon's wetlands law.

Filed in the Lorain County Common Pleas Court, the lawsuit claims Schneider illegally filled in wetlands on the site of his Detroit Road project.

As proof, Phillips cited Avon's wetlands law. Passed in 1997, the law prohibits construction on any area designated as wetlands by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Areas where water covers the soil or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time are considered wetlands. They can provide a critical habitat for plants and also wildlife adapted to breeding exclusively in these areas.

For a city like Avon, where open land is being developed at an extremely rapid pace, there is even more concern about preserving these natural areas.

Formerly, developers were bound only by state law, which allows them to build on the wetlands after paying money into a fund that will eventually be used to create new wetlands in North Ridgeville.

''That's one of the reasons it was upsetting to council,'' Avon Law Director Dan Stringer said. ''The wetlands in Avon should remain in Avon.''

Stringer conceded, however, that he does not know if the city's law has been enforced.

But even if developers are not following the city's wetlands law, it is on the books. And now, Phillips is using it in the lawsuit against Schneider, whose Detroit Road property includes 2.77 acres of wetlands.

Like other developers in Avon have done, Schneider bought credits in the North Ridgeville ''wetlands bank.'' He paid $90,000 to purchase the credits and was issued a permit, according to Fred Dieffenbach, a biologist with the U.S. Army Corps or Engineers.

But according to Phillips, that's not good enough.

''Avon's wetland ordinance says you cannot disturb or build on any wetland area at all,'' Phillips said. ''The whole wetlands ordinance will ultimately be (decided.)''

To resolve the issue, Schneider has filed a cross claim against the city of Avon as part of his lawsuit with Phillips. He claims Avon's wetlands ordinance is unconstitutional because it is too broad and ''does not advance a legitimate interest in the health, safety or welfare of the community.''

As defined by the Army Corps of Engineers, even ruts left by tractors that fill with water can be considered wetlands.

Stringer said the city will stand by the law and defend it in court.

''It's like a lot of ordinances, you're not absolutely sure on some of them,'' Stringer said. ''But it was the feeling, of several members of council, based upon our home rule, that we have authority to pass ordinances regulating wetlands.''

Further complicating the issue is a disagreement between Phillips and Schneider over a small pond on Schneider's Detroit Road site. While Phillips contends the pond is a wetland, Dieffenbach said it is technically classified as a U.S. Body of Water -- meaning that it may not be subject to Avon's wetland ordinance.

A preliminary hearing on the lawsuit has been set for April 16. Phillips is asking for a preliminary injunction to prevent Schneider from clearing the land."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 4-6-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"Avon Lake official rips Vista project

AVON -- The 500-acre ''Vista'' project proposed by developers Richard Jacobs and Robert Stark was denounced by the chairman of Avon Lake's planning board as a threat to Avon and Avon Lake.

''With the proposed project would come a diminution in the quality of life in our two cities,'' stated Avon Lake Planning Commission Chairman Gary Fell in a letter distributed to Avon city officials last night.

Vista project plans include a large shopping center, offices, hotels, homes and parks -- all centered around a new I-90 interchange proposed for Lear-Nagel Road. The retail component of the project would border Avon Lake.

Before the developers can proceed, however, they must have Avon's approval to go forward with a traffic study related to the interchange.

Last month -- at a meeting [3-15-99] attended by several Avon Lake politicians -- Avon City Council told the developers council would not approve the vital traffic study.

In his letter, Fell praised Avon City Council for rejecting the request.

''Congratulations on your decision at recent meetings to not back a traffic study,'' Fell wrote. ''I support your decision and agree with the comments many of you have made.''

Specifically, Fell said traffic is not bad enough at the existing interchanges in Avon and Westlake to warrant an additional interchange.

''Even when it is slow getting through these interchange areas, I am willing to accept the inconveniences as a trade off for slower development of those areas around the interchanges,'' Fell stated.

If the new interchange is put in, Fell said the land around the project will be developed ''rapidly'' and result in major traffic problems for Avon Lake and Avon.

''Lear Road would become like Crocker/Bassett only Lear has schools, churches and houses close to the road,'' Fell wrote. ''As people would try to avoid the area, traffic would greatly increase on roads such as Detroit, Walker, Jaycox, Krebs, Bradley and smaller roads not built to handle such traffic.'' ...

Avon Mayor Jim Smith, who does not support the project, has promised to keep other mayors informed of Avon's plans."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 4-6-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"Council reviews superstore project

AVON -- Developer Mitchell Schneider's Colorado Avenue superstore was reviewed by City Council for the first time last night [4-5-99] after receiving unanimous approval from the city planning board.

The project consists of 17 acres of land zoned for larger stores and nearly four acres of land zoned for offices or smaller retail buildings.

The main tenant, however, will be a 110,000-square-foot superstore about the size of a Wal-mart or Target. Schneider has not yet revealed the superstore tenant.

''The tenant asked that they be allowed to make the announcement,'' Schneider said.

Although Schneider also plans two additional freestanding buildings, he does not have specific businesses in mind.

The remaining land will be developed later for tenants such as an auto service, bank, restaurant or ''whatever appropriate tenants we find,'' he said last night.

City Council will take its first vote on the superstore project Monday night [4-12-99]. ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from The PRESS, 4-7-99, By JoAnne Easterday

"... Mitchell Schneider made a short presentation to Council [4-5-99] on the Colorado Road retail establishment. Discussion concerned a second access off of Moore Road. Schneider assured Council that the pavers with grass growing in the center would serve as appropriate access for emergency vehicles without daily traffic disturbing Windmill Village resdidnts' home sites."

LETTER TO THE EDITOR of The PRESS, 4-7-99, By Bill Gladish

"Avon voters, your choice should be C-3. On Tuesday, June 1, we Avon voters will make a very important decision for our community.

Your YES vote will give us the Avon Commons shopping center (C-3) and your No vote will give us the Avon Business Park (C-2).

I encourage you to vote Yes because it brings to Avon the following:

Let's vote for the Highest Quality -- which means a YES vote on the Avon Commons (C-3) on June 1, 1999."

CROSS ROADS from The PRESS, 4-7-99, By JoAnne Easterday

"... Mitchell Schneider ... said that if Avon Commons were resurrected in the June 1 ballot, it would be somewhat smaller than originally planned. The big store ... planned at Colorado at Colorado Avenue and Interstate 90 is one of those that had been interested in locating at the site at Detroit Road and SR 83.

Instead of four 'big box' stores, there would be plans for three ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE PLAIN DEALER, 4-8-98, By Rich Exner

"AVON - ... officials in Avon and Avon Lake ... are concerned that the interchange and development would bring traffic to their communities.

The first formal opinion outside Avon came recently from Avon Lake Planning Commission Chairman Gary Fell, who wrote Avon council members to congratulate them on last month's decision not to support a required traffic study.

The developers, the Richard E. Jacobs Group and Robert L. Stark Enterprises, need a local government to endorse the idea of a study as the first step toward determining whether the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency would OK a new interchange.

Some Avon council members said there was no need for a study because they do not want the interchange. Others said they would reconsider if the developers returned with more information.

Fell said the traffic at the Ohio 611, Ohio 83 and Crocker Rd. interchanges along I-90 wasn't so bad that a new interchange was needed.

"Even when it is slow getting through these interchange areas," Fell wrote, "I am willing to accept the inconvenience as a tradeoff for slower development of those areas around the interchanges." ...

Bay Village Mayor Tom Jelepis said ... he has no plans to lobby Avon officials ...

Should Jacobs and Stark find a local sponsor for the traffic study, NOACA's board eventually would decide whether to OK the interchange. The board comprises 37 representatives of communities in five Northeast Ohio counties.

Approval from the Ohio Department of Transportation also would be necessary. ... ODOT does not consider approving construction of new interchanges unless someone such as a developer or a local government is willing to pay at least HALF the cost, spokeswoman Sally Giovinazzo said. [So who picks up the rest?]"

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 4-13-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"Council approves superstore

AVON -- The city's first superstore is on its way after City Council approved developer Mitchell Schneider's Colorado Avenue development last night [4-12-99].

Schneider said he has a tenant for the 110,000-square-foot building he plans to build, but will not release the name until the store gives him permission to do so.

When completed, the project will encompass about 17 acres of land, and will also include free-standing buildings typically used for banks or restaurants. So far, only the superstore building has been approved.

The development will be located immediately west of Moore Road on the north side of Colorado Avenue, near the I-90 exit. It is expected to open this fall. ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 4-13-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"Avon Commons stores to be revealed

AVON -- The names of the stores and restaurants that could fill the proposed Avon Commons shopping center will be unveiled at tomorrow night's Avon Planning Commission meeting [4-14-99] when developer Mitchell Schneider presents an update on his project.

''I do intend to announce the names of the retailers with whom we're working so that the community will have a better feel of the quality of the retailer we'll be bringing to the project,'' Schneider said.

Though Schneider's policy has always been to wait until a project's groundbreaking to name tenants, he said he is forced to act early with Avon Commons because ''everything about this project is unusual.''

The 85-acre Detroit Road project, which hinges on a June 1 special election, has been challenged every step of the way by attorney Gerald Phillips. Rival developers Richard Jacobs and Robert Stark also joined the fray by forming a political action committee to fight Avon Commons in last November's election that rejected the project.

''I felt that in the last election, several parties claimed that we were trying to hide something by virtue of not listing the retailers,'' Schneider said. ''I intend to provide the community with as much information as I'm capable of doing.''

Avon Commons was originally planned to include four superstores, several larger stores, restaurants, a movie theater and amenities such as a summer concert area and a recreational pathway.

Since last year, however, the plans have changed.

One of the superstores planned for Avon Commons now intends to locate in Schneider's proposed development on Colorado Avenue in Avon -- meaning the new Avon Commons will have three superstores instead of four.

Also, Schneider said he has added several restaurants which will have outdoor patios overlooking the pathway in his Avon Commons plans.

Before Avon Commons can be built, Schneider must win voter approval for a zoning change he needs.

Avon resident Bob Barnhart has collected enough signatures to place the shopping center on a special June 1 election, but the move has been challenged by Phillips, who claims not all of the signatures are valid.

Lorain County Board of Elections Director Marilyn Jacobik said a hearing will be held to resolve the issue, but no date has been set. Attorneys for the two sides are meeting today to discuss procedure.

Meanwhile, Barnhart and his group have formed a political action committee called Avon Citizens for Avon Commons to promote the shopping center, and now have a press secretary -- Kate Hubben of Paramount Communication -- being paid by Schneider as an in-kind contribution.

A number of business leaders, citizens and politicians are scheduled to meet in front of Avon City Hall today [Tuesday, 4-13-99, at 10 am] to express support for the project, Ms. Hubben said. ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 4-14-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"CVS plans pharmacy at Avon site

AVON -- A new CVS Pharmacy has been proposed for a site now occupied by Avon Auto Care, just west of the Avon Commons shopping center site.

The 1.38 acres of commercially zoned land is along Detroit Road between SR-83 and [Old] Center Road.

CVS plans call for a 10,100-square-foot building with a drive-thru pharmacy and access drives off Detroit Road, Center Road and SR-83.

The pharmacy must be approved by Avon's Planning Commission and City Council. Zaremba Group Inc., a Lakewood real estate development company, is to represent CVS at the Planning Commission meeting a week from today.

CVS is seeking sites with room for drive-thru pharmacies. CVS had considered a site on Walker Road in Avon Lake, but did not receive city approval for rezoning from residential to commercial land use. ... The Avon site is zoned correctly for the CVS project.

The CVS pharmacy is just one of a handful of new projects proposed for land surrounding the SR-83 interchange with I-90.

If his Avon Commons project is rejected by voters on June 1, developer Mitchell Schneider said he plans to develop the 85 acres of Detroit Road land he controls with a series of smaller projects, including a small strip mall and an office complex.

North of I-90, the Curie-Hall Investment Co. has proposed two hotels, a Bob Evans Restaurant and a convenience-type store on Chester Road across from Avon City Hall. ..."

LETTER TO THE EDITOR of The PRESS, 4-14-99, By Bob Barnhart

"Your yes vote on June 1, 1999, insures that Avon dollars will remain in Avon to benefit your Avon Schools and Avon community. This means you and I, as property owners, will be faced with fewer tax increases.

A good example of keeping Avon dollars in our community is the Avenbury Lakes Retirement Development currently under construction just east of the Avon Commons site. Avenbury Lakes will have 349 residences which require that at least one resident in each unit be a retiree.

Your yes vote vote for Avon Commons C-3 insures that the retirees living next door will be able to walk to do some of their shopping and, therefore, will not have to drive their cars out of Avon which will REDUCE traffic.

All Avon residents will have the convenience of local shopping, and we can keep our Avon dollars in our own community rather than spending our money in Westlake, Sheffield or Elyria.

Let's look out for Avon's best interest by voting YES on June 1 for Avon Commons C-3."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 4-14-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"AVON -- A Political Action Committee ... Avon Citizens for Avon Commons ... is led by Bob Barnhart ... As part of their campaign, residents behind the PAC gathered outside of Avon City Hall yesterday [4-13-99] along with Councilman Shaun Brady and Planning Commission member and former Mayor Thomas Wearsch.

Brady predicted Avon Commons will win at the June [ 1, 1999] election by a "large majority" and said it lost in November [1998] largely due to an anti-Avon Commons campaign waged by rival developers Richard Jacobs and Robert Stark. ...

Brady said he doesn't expect the same interference in this election because the Jacobs/Stark group made a 'commitment' at a City Council meeting [3-15-99] to avoid commenting on the Avon Commons project ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE SUN, 4-15-99, By CHANEL CHAMBERS, Staff Writer

"Group campaigning for project

AVON -- Supporters of Avon Commons, confident their luck will improve this spring, are kicking off a campaign to convince voters to approve the rezoning initiative that will pave the way for the retail project.

"Our project and our intention is to adequately inform the Avon voters of what a 'yes' vote means, which is a high-quality shopping center with a lot of amenities," said Robert Barnhart, a member of Avon Citizens for Avon Commons, a group organized in an effort to pass the issue.

"A 'yes' vote ... allows Avon residents to control how Avon will be improved. We have the power to vote for an improved development that will include a family gazebo, walking trails, and nearly $2 million in traffic improvements."

The original issue, to rezone 85 acres of land near the intersection of Detroit and Center roads from light commercial to heavy commercial classification, failed in November by 47 votes. Voters will revisit the issue in a June 1 special election. ...

Currently, the land is zoned C-2, which allows buildings no larger than 20,000 square feet. Schneider's plan for Avon Commons includes at least three large "big box" stores of about 80,000 square feet, in addition to smaller stores. The total building area is about 600,000 square feet.

Several city officials appeared Tuesday [4-13-99] at City Hall to discuss their support for the project, including Councilman Shaun Brady and Planning Commission member Thomas Wearsch.

Brady said he hopes this election's campaign will clear up some of the confusion surrounding last November's. Many residents since have come forward, claiming they were mislead by slick advertising campaigns used by rival developers Richard Jacobs and Robert Stark to advance their own cause.

The Jacobs/Stark team formed a political action committee, Citizens for Good Planning, which contributed at least $50,000 to defeat Schneider's issue.

"It was a very confused message. In fact, there were a lot of lies that were being told," Brady said. "Mr. Jacobs and his group felt it necessary to throw thousands of dollars to contribute to that confusion. They tried to make themselves look good by making other people look bad."

Barnhart said Avon Commons will bring much-needed cash to the city's rapidly growing school district. The project should pour more than $1 million in tax revenues into school district coffers, in addition to $603,000 to the city and $303,000 for Lorain County.

"Every time you build a new home, you cause deficit spending, especially in your schools," Barnhart said. "In order to keep up with the spiraling costs of education, you need tax revenue without additional costs."

Wearsch said the job of Avon Citizens for Avon Commons should be easier this time around, since voters now understand that development will happen on the site regardless of how they vote. The only choice, according to supporters, is between a well-planned and landscaped project, or the "piecemeal" development that could happen under C-2 guidelines.

"This project is the highest quality project this city could possibly get," Wearsch said. "It's a no-brainer that we should have this in Avon ... Avon is a community of progress, and this is a project of progress. (Avon Commons) creates 1,000 good-paying jobs and provides retail that this city needs in a moderate-size development."

In response to residents' concerns about traffic, supporters said the Avon Commons proposal, which includes traffic improvements, is preferable to any other so far proposed. [Traffic will be the topic of a press conference at 10 am on Wednesday, 4-21-99, at the corner of SR-83 and Detroit Rd., hosted by Mike Schweikert of Traf Pro.]

"The building of this shopping center will actually improve the movement of traffic in the area of the shopping center," Barnhart said, adding that additional tax revenue generated by the stores could fund road improvements in other parts of the city.

"It is safe to say that nearly $2 million in traffic improvements with new computer synchronized traffic lights will vastly improve our quality of life by reducing traffic tension," Brady said.

Barnhart said the group has about 50 volunteers so far, and is available to conduct presentations with individuals and community groups about the project."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE PLAIN DEALER, 4-14-98, By Rich Exner

"AVON -- ... Four current and former city officials joined former Avon schools Superintendent Robert Barnhart yesterday [4-13-99] to show their support for Avon Commons. ...

"I really want Avon to get something good," said Bill Gladish, a former Planning Commission member ... Gladish said he was concerned that the collection of smaller buildings would not benefit Avon like Avon Commons could.

Joining Gladish and Barnhart yesterday were Planning Commission member Tom Wearsch, Councilman Shaun Brady, and Board of Zoning Appeals member Tim Nickum ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 4-15-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"Avon mall stores named by developer

AVON -- Developer Mitchell Schneider last night [4-14-99] rattled off a list of stores and restaurants he hopes to bring to his proposed Avon Commons shopping center, including Kohl's department store, Home Depot and Barnes & Noble Booksellers.

Seven planned restaurants include those such as Applebees, Longhorn Steakhouse, the Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesdays and Don Pablos.

In a presentation to the Avon Planning Commission, Schneider stressed that no tenants will commit to the Detroit Road shopping center before June 1, the date the retail complex is scheduled to go before voters for a required rezoning.

''We've not signed a lease with any of these parties,'' he said. ''Until we are able to tell these retailers that we are moving forward with a properly zoned piece of property, none of them are willing to sign on the dotted line.''

After making what he called ''modest, but I think important'' changes to his plans, Schneider said he now intends to build three superstores instead of four. The move gave him room to add three restaurants with south-facing patios that will be tucked along the recreational pathway.

The prospective tenants include:

While no vote was taken last night on Schneider's informal presentation, Planning Commission members said they liked the changes.

''I think it's probably even more outstanding than it was last year,'' said board member Thomas Wearsch. ''If anything, we've gained a little bit.''

Planning Commission member Jim Malloy said ... ''This is a better plan overall.''

Although Schneider has proposed a series of smaller projects -- such as an office complex and small strip mall -- for the Detroit Road land, he won't build them unless Avon Commons fails at the special June 1 election. Unlike Avon Commons, his alternate plans do not require a zoning change.

''(This is) our preferred development plan,'' Schneider said of the updated Avon Commons. ''We think it's really the best plan for all parties concerned and see no reason to proceed with a piecemeal program.''

As for the benefits of Avon Commons, Schneider touted the $1 million in taxes that would be generated annually for Avon schools. He also pledged to make $1.8 million in traffic improvements that he said would cut down the wait for cars getting off the highway at SR-83 by 75 percent during peak traffic hours.

If Schneider wins at the June 1 ballot, he plans a fall groundbreaking.

Schneider said he revealed his prospective tenants earlier than planned because his opponents accused him of ''hiding something'' in last November's election."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM (4-15-99) By Mike Sakal

"Avon Commons stores revealed

AVON -- ... City Council President and Planning Commission member Ted Graczyk Jr. said he likes the plan.

"It's a nice grouping of stores. If you're going to have a piece of commercial development, what can you have that's nicer?'' Graczyk asked. ..."

LETTER TO THE EDITOR of The SUN, 4-15-99, By Anthony Discenza, member of the 1998 Avon Charter Review Commission

"As an Avon resident who often sits endlessly at Route 83, Interstate 90 and Detroit Road in congested traffic and no solution in sight other than the initiative demonstrated by the developer of the proposed Avon Commons, I clearly see several advantages in a YES vote on June 1.

A yes vote for Avon Commons will invest $2 million in traffic improvements which address our EXISTING traffic problems.

The plan for a state-of-the-art, computer synchronized traffic signal system, which is long overdue, is only one reason to vote yes.

Our Planning Commission did an exceptional job by reaching a consensus with the Avon Commons developer for a solution to congestion and insisting upon a strategic plan for this development which blends nicely into our town as an attractive retail option for us.

Avon Commons is a winner as both a retail convenience with amenities and a thoughtful plan to address an already serious traffic problem.

Please join me in voting yes on June 1. It truly is what Avon needs now."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 4-15-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"ELYRIA - Attorneys Gerald Phillips and Tim Grendell will no longer be allowed to represent a group of Avon residents fighting developer Mitchell Schneider, according to a ruling handed down yesterday by Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Edward Zaleski ...

''I really don't know what the heck we're going to do now," said Robert Ryant, ... ''I guess I'll just have to wait and see what (Phillips) says" ...

The City of Avon is listed as a co-defendent because it allegedky did not enforce its codes ...

Zaleski ruled yesterday that Phillips can not represent his clients because he is also a plantiff in the case. Grendell was disqualified as well because his law partner, Steve Targove, is listed as a witness in the case.

Avon Law Director Dan Stringer said, ''I feel the judge was absolutely correct in his decision,''... Yesterday's rulings could have implications for Phillips' other fights ... Phillips has questioned the validity of the signatures Barnhart collected and wants the election called off ... But Stringer said that, too, may be illegal. ''Once again, he is speaking on behalf of the protesters and he himself is a protester,'' ...

NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM (4-16-99) By Mike Sakal

"... Common Pleas Court Judge Edward Zaleski on Wednesday [4-14-99] disqualified attorneys Gerald Phillips of Avon and Timothy Grendell of Independence ...

A hearing ... today [4-16-99] was postponed ... Residents were given 30 days to find another attorney ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM (4-17-99) By Jeff Mohrman

"AVON -- A county church group wants a decision about a developer's [Stark/Jacobs] proposal to build an interchange at Interstate 90 and Lear-Nagel Road delayed until the county's comprehensive land use plan is completed.

Members of Broad-Faith Organizing for Lorain's Development [BOLD] told members of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency [NOACA] on Friday [4-16-99] that citizens must know how the interchange will affect the area before a decision is made.

The group represents 16 churches in Lorain, Elyria and Oberlin. "The cities are being raped," said the Rev. David Wheeler, the group's president ...

The county's comprehensive land use plan is being assembled by committees under the County Planning Commission and the county commissioners. The plan should be finished in March 2000, said Ron Twining, director of the county's Community Development Department ...

Before NOACA can consider the Lear-Nagel interchange, Avon City Council would have to vote to authorize an impact study, Avon Mayor James Smith said. "There are a lot of questions to be answered. There are two schools and a church right down the street from this. I don't blame Council and (Avon) Planning Commission for being cautious about this"

Jerry N. Hruby, president of NOACA's board of directors, said he agreed with the church group ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 4-19-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"Board wants more evidence in Avon petition claims

AVON -- Attorney Gerald Phillips must provide more evidence that proves a citizens group did not collect enough valid signatures to force a special June election for the proposed Avon Commons shopping center, election board officials said Thursday [4-15-99].

''We're requesting that Mr. Phillips provide some specific information,'' Lorain County Board of Elections Director Marilyn Jacobcik said. ''There were some generalized claims, but we need something concrete before we can proceed.''

Phillips, who lives across the street from where developer Mitchell Schneider wants to build, has until the end of next week to submit additional proof. He claims the petitions collected to put Avon Commons on the ballot were insufficient because of errors such as duplicated signatures.

Phillips refused to comment on the petitions Thursday. ...

Lorain County Assistant Prosecutor Jerry Innes said the elections board found some duplicated signatures when rechecking the petitions, but said there were at least 100 more signatures than needed to force the special election.

''As in all petitions, we did find a number of those kinds of mistakes,'' Innes said. ''But we still came up with 2,075 valid signatures.''

The June 1 election is considered to be the last chance for the Avon Commons development. The shopping center failed by a narrow margin last November, but was revived by Avon resident Bob Barnhart who began the disputed petition drive.

If the shopping center fails, Schneider said he plans to build an office park and small strip mall on the site."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 4-20-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"No I-90 ramp at Lear-Nagel Road without Avon Council OK

AVON -- There is ''no way'' developers Richard Jacobs and Robert Stark can build a new I-90 interchange at Lear-Nagel Road without the consent of Avon city officials, according to a regional planning official.

The interchange was proposed by the Jacobs-Stark team as the cornerstone of its 500-acre Vista project, a complex of stores, offices, hotels, restaurants and homes that has not been approved by the city yet.

Before the developers could build the interchange, however, they must have an impact study done by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency.

At a meeting last month, Avon City Council members told Jacobs and Stark they weren't interested in the interchange and would not give their consent for an impact study to be done.

Still, Council President Ted Graczyk said there is ''a lot of questions we need answered'' about the interchange. To do so, he invited NOACA Executive Director Howard Maier to last night's Avon City Council work session.

Specifically, Graczyk said he wanted to know if it is possible for Jacobs and Stark to have an impact study done and build the interchange without city approval.

''There's no way the city can be cut out of that process?'' Graczyk asked Maier.

''No way,'' responded Maier. ''It requires the sign-off of the community. That point cannot be emphasized enough.''

Though council members were united in their opposition to the interchange at last month's meeting, they disagreed at last night's meeting over whether Maier should have been invited to speak.

Councilmen Jack Kilroy, Shaun Brady and David Kaiser all said there is no use in even discussing the interchange.

''You polled the members of council present (at the March 15 meeting) and it was 6 to 0 that we weren't interested in doing that,'' Kilroy said. ''I wonder who's really doing the work for Jacobs here. I think it's a waste of time that we reconsider it. Did any of us change our minds?''"

Newspaper Record of Stark/Jacobs in Avon

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

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