Newspaper Record of XXXXX/JACOBS in Avon,
Ohio -- May 14, 1999 to May 21, 1999

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5-19-99
5-21-99
5-22-99

NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM (5-15-99) By Joe Mosbrook Jr.

"AVON - ... Thomas Henneberry, executive vice president of the Richard E. Jacobs Group, said the Indians' sale will not alter any Jacobs Group projects ...

The Jacobs Group is completing a traffic study intended to be used for a proposed I-90 interchange at Lear-Nagel Road. The interchange would serve the shopping center portion of the Vista project ...

[Avon City] Council or the Board of County Commissioners must sponsor the interchange plan to NOACA ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 5-18-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"Tour of proposed Avon mall given

AVON -- Standing in the middle of what could become an asphalt entrance into Avon Commons, Taylor J. Smith looked around at the tall evergreens to his left and the giant oaks to his right.

''I planted everyone of them,'' he said. ''Personally, with my own two hands.''

Smith, along with a few other Avon Commons supporters, was on hand yesterday to attend developer Mitchell Schneider's promotional tour of the Detroit Road land where he will build Avon Commons if voters give him the go-ahead at the special June 1 election.

Though Smith still owns the trees and the field where Schneider walked yesterday, he has signed an agreement to sell 75 acres of his land to the developer if Avon Commons goes forward.

As Schneider pointed to where each of his prospective tenants would be located, Smith talked about the memories he formed while living on the land.

When he was 8 years old, Smith used to ride his bike down Detroit Road to get to a farm where he worked in the western part of the city. If Avon Commons goes forward, it will mean more traffic lights and new lanes.

Despite his memories of growing up in a quiet town, Smith said he's confident Avon Commons is the best thing for Avon -- largely because of all the grass, trees and shrubs the developer won't be replacing with asphalt.

''There will be more trees planted in the center under Avon Commons than I planted myself,'' Smith said. ''They are preserving greenspace at no cost to the city. My own opinion is that this will be the nicest shopping center in [Ohio].''

And because of the trees, landscaping and brick wall that will line Detroit Road, Smith said you won't even be able to see the shopping center from the street.

Wearing a white button-down shirt with his company's insignia on it and hiking boots, Schneider touted many of the same benefits yesterday.

Though his biggest opposition has come from attorney Gerald Phillips and his clients who live on Center Road, Schneider said he plans to leave the trees that would hide the shopping center from Center Road residents.

Walking further west on the land, Schneider pointed to the spot where the half-mile recreational pathway will begin. As planned, it will be lined with restaurants whose patios will back up into landscaped mounds.

At the end of the pathway, there will be a 2-acre summer concert area with a gazebo and an amphitheater.

Though he has signed no contracts with prospective tenants, Schneider said he is negotiating with stores such as Target, Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Home Depot, Old Navy, Michael's Craft Store, CineMark Theater, Linens 'n' Things and Kohl's department store.

He's also planning a total of eight restaurants which could include Applebees, Longhorn Steakhouse, Ruby Tuesday, Don Pablos and Olive Garden.

Schneider stressed that nothing is official yet.

''None of the tenants with whom we're working are prepared to make a formal commitment to the site until this zoning issue is resolved,'' Schneider said.

If Avon Commons fails at the June 1 special election, Schneider said he plans a series of smaller projects -- including a small strip mall and an office complex -- that do not require a zoning change."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM (5-18-99) By Joe Mosbrook Jr.

"AVON - ... On Thursday, [5-13-99] attorneys Gerald Phillips and Timothy Grendell filed a motion with the Ohio Supreme Court asking it to stop the County Board of Elections from conducting the [June 1, special] election ...

Schneider said he anticipates the election will continue despite the latest maneuver by Phillips ... "There was a barrage of misleading information ...," Schneider said ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE PLAIN DEALER, 5-18-98, By Jennifer Gonzalez

"AVON - ... Board [of Elections] member John S. Blevins said the Board would meet Thursday [3 pm, 5-20-99] and vote on whether the election should go as scheduled ..."

LETTER TO THE EDITOR of THE PLAIN DEALER, 5-18-99, By Tom Wearsch

"Let's not be fooled again by the misinformation about Avon Commons. Avon Commons is not about urban sprawl. In fact, quite the contrary is true. Our vote on June 1 allows us to vote on controlled and planned economic development.

A yes vote on June 1 will not only provide nearly $2 million in traffic improvements, but also will improve our quality of life with a festival marketplace, an outdoor gazebo and pathways to walk and bike. This is no mega - mall.

Please join me in voting yes on Avon Commons."

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 5-19-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"Avon case in top court

AVON -- Attorney Gerald Phillips has filed a lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court protesting the special June 1 election for the Avon Commons shopping center.

Though Phillips has already filed the same complaint with the Lorain County Board of Elections, he said the board is acting too slowly to resolve the question of whether there are enough valid signatures to proceed with a special election ...

At the first election board hearing, only two members were available to vote on the issue. The hearing is scheduled to continue Thursday [5-20-99], less than two weeks before the scheduled election.

Phillips said the Ohio Supreme Court has a policy to review all elections complaints quickly. He expects a decision before the June 1 election.

However, Bob Barnhart, the Avon resident who led the petition drive to put the controversial Detroit Road development back in front of Avon voters, said he still has enough signatures to force a special election, even though the board disqualified some signatures because they were duplicates.

Barnhart said it's normal to make a few minor errors while petitioning. He said he's confident the election will go forward.

For his part, Avon Commons developer Mitchell Schneider said he doesn't understand Phillips or his goals.

''Isn't it ironic that someone with Mr. Phillips' reputation for standing for the rights of people to have a say in their community would fight so hard to keep an issue off the ballot,'' Schneider said. ..."

COMMUNITY PULSE... AND OPINION, The PRESS, 5-19-99, By R.J. Hemmer

"... I believe that the additional information put out by the pro-Avon Commons people ... will give this issue the success it deserves. Knowledge is ultimately king.

A vote for Avon Commons is a vote for saving Avon taxpayers money out of their pockets ... Avon residents only need to look around them and see all the new homes being built. Where are these kids going to school? Will Avon schools be big enough? Who's going to pay for this?

Avon Commons, if passed, will generate nearly $1.2 million dollars a year for Avon Schools. That is $1.2 million dollars the Avon Board of Education won't be asking residents for.

Avon Commons will also generate ... just over $600,000 per year ... to help run your city. Roads, equipment, salt, upkeep, just to name a few, will be funded by this project ...

Commercial development is coming to Avon -- it's going to happen -- it won't be stopped. If you're going to have it, then why not have it right.

I urge Avon voters to find out as much as you can about this important issue. A vote for the Avon Commons is a vote for a solid future for a growing community."

NEWS ARTICLE from The PRESS, 5-19-99, By JoAnne Easterday

"Mitchell Schneider, President of First Interstate Development Company and developer of Avon Commons, led a group of reporters and residents on a tour of the proposed site of Avon Commons ...

Schneider emphasized the serpentine brick wall, high mounding, and landscape buffer planned for Detroit Road and within the 200 feet cleared along the back of homes on old Center Road ...

The 1,500 feet of natural vegetation at the western border of Avon Commons will mostly be retained. "Visibility will be practically zero," Schneider said of the buildings, which will be lower than the homes on Center Road ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 5-20-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"Traffic study prescribed for CVS plan

AVON -- CVS Pharmacy was sent back to the drawing board last night after it refused to give in to the Avon Planning Commission's demands concerning traffic and parking.

The pharmacy, which wants to locate at the corner of Old Center and Detroit roads, insisted it needs entrances off of both roads.

''A lot of the success of the operation is the ability to get in and get in quickly,'' said CVS representative John Wojtila. ''It's a major issue.''

Planning commission members, however, said it could be dangerous for cars exiting onto Detroit Road from the pharmacy -- especially if the Avon Commons shopping center is built and more lanes are added to Detroit Road.

In addition, commission members said CVS had requested about 40 percent too many parking spaces.

''Within 14 days, we'll have a much clearer picture of what will happen in that area,'' said commission member Paul Burik, referring to the June 1 special election for Avon Commons. ''The whole picture can change in two weeks.''

Because of the potential traffic problems, planners said CVS should do a traffic study to see if a traffic light will be needed at the intersection of Old Center and Detroit.

But Wojtila insisted the CVS driveways would not pose a threat.

After going back and forth on the issue for nearly 30 minutes, Planning Commission Chairman Jim Piazza told Wojtila he needs numbers to back up his argument. The commission put off action on the CVS request.

''Telling us in your opinion it's OK, that doesn't do much for us,'' Piazza said.

Board member Thomas Wearsch added that Wojtila would be unable to have a ''rational discussion'' with the board until he studied the city's planning code and got his facts straight ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 5-20-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer

"$800,000 paid for superstore land

AVON -- Developer Mitchell Schneider paid more than $800,000 for the five parcels of land on Colorado Avenue where he plans to build a superstore, according to county property transfer records.

The parcels total more than 8 acres and were purchased from two different sellers.

Schneider paid $330,000 to Richard and Mary Bramhall for two parcels totaling about 4.4 acres. The other three parcels were purchased for $500,940 from the Peter and Marie Rak trustees and William P. Heinebrodt. They total about 3.7 acres, according to property transfer records.

Schneider proposed the Colorado Avenue development after his Avon Commons shopping center was defeated last November. It will house one of the superstores that had planned to locate in Avon Commons, though Schneider has not yet revealed the name of the store.

Schneider also plans four freestanding buildings which are typically used for restaurants or banks, but only the superstore has received city approval so far.

The superstore should be open by this fall."

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 5-21-99, By MORGAN LEWIS JR., Morning Journal Writer

"Avon mall gets back on ballot

ELYRIA -- Avon voters will get another chance to decide the fate of the proposed Avon Commons shopping center. A disputed June 1 election on rezoning for the project was approved yesterday by the Lorain County Board of Elections.

Yesterday's 3-0 ruling by the Elections Board rejected a protest by attorney Gerald Phillips. Elections board chairman [Jacobs lawyer] Thomas Smith abstained.

Phillips who lives near the proposed development [along with Stark/Jacobs lawyer Timothy Grendell], challenged numerous signatures on the petitions used to put the rezoning question on the ballot ...

Phillips said he expected the board to rule against him. Earlier this week, Phillips filed a lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court protesting the election.

''I'm not surprised,'' Phillips said of the board's vote. ''They're going to stand behind their first ruling. I think I have a good chance with the Supreme Court though.''

Bob Barnhart, the Avon resident who led the petition drive to put the controversial Detroit Road development back in front of Avon voters, said he expects a majority of Avon voters to support the rezoning. In November 1998 the proposed zoning change failed by 47 votes.

''I'm confident that voters are much better informed with factual information than they were in the last election,'' Barnhart said. ''I anticipate a positive vote.'' ...

Gerald Innes, the assistant county prosecutor who serves as counsel for the board, said that even without the disputed signatures, there would still be enough votes for the special election.

''This isn't a perfect process,'' said board member Anthony Giardini. ''Sometimes we do have to make determinations on people's intent. We want to allow an election whenever we can, as long as the proper rules and regulations are followed.''

Though Avon Commons developer Mitchell Schneider has no signed contracts, he said he is negotiating with stores such as Target, Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Home Depot, Old Navy, Michael's Craft Store, CineMark Theater, Linens 'n' Things and Kohl's department store.

He is planning for eight restaurants, which could include Applebee's, Longhorn Steakhouse, Ruby Tuesday, Don Pablo's and Olive Garden.

If Avon Commons fails at the June 1 special election, Schneider said he plans a series of smaller projects -- including a small strip mall and an office complex -- that do not require a zoning change.

It was the alternative proposals for the land that spurred Barnhart to collect signatures for a second election on Avon Commons.

The Avon Commons project includes more trees, landscaping and a brick wall [backed by a landscaped mound with trees on top] that will line Detroit Road to block much of the shopping center from sight. Plans also include a walking path and a 2-acre summer concert area with a gazebo and an amphitheater."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE PLAIN DEALER, 5-21-99, By Rich Exner

"ELYRIA - The Lorain County Board of Elections yesterday [5-20-99] unanimously rejected a challenge to petitions calling for a special election June 1 on a shopping center issue in Avon.

The board ruled that there were enough valid signatures on the petitions and said the election would be held as scheduled ...

Despite yesterday's ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court ultimately could decide whether an election is held or if the election results should be put on hold until disputes are decided, Assistant County Prosecutor Gerald Innes said ...

A major issue is whether people signing petitions must be registered with the board at the time they sign, or if their registration cards merely need to be filled out then and filed by the time the petitions are validated ...

The opponents, led by attorney Gerald Phillips, [along with Stark/Jacobs lawyer Timothy Grendell], contend that there are enough invalid signatures to leave the issue short of the 1,959 needed for the special election.

Board officials, responding to the complaint, disallowed several signatures for various reasons, including some cases in which a person signed for a spouse. Innes said that even if all those signatures were removed, there were still about 2,000 good signatures ...

The board, in 3-0 votes, rejected the petition challenge and certified the election.

[Jacobs lawyer] Tom Smith excused himself from the hearing because of a conflict. He has served as an attorney on cases with Phillips [and Grendell, in particular the case resulting in the overthrow of Avon's zoning law on 6-8-98 by Judge Thomas Janas]."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM (5-21-99) By Joe Mosbrook Jr.

"Avon rezoning remains on ballot

ELYRIA-- The Lorain County Board of Elections approved a scheduled June 1 special election for an Avon Commons rezoning initiative ...

The final word on whether the election will be held, however, will come from the Ohio Supreme Court.

Phillips filed a motion with the court last week [5-13-99], which will review written arguments beginning today and early next week, a court spokesperson said.

A ruling should come down by late next week -- days before the election.

Schneider is confident the court will support the board's decision, one of his attorneys said.

"The issues Phillips brought to this board simply don't hold water,'' said Schneider's attorney, Jennifer Brunner. "These were shotgun allegations.''"

LETTER TO THE EDITOR of THE CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM, 5-21-99, By David and Dianne Fischer

"After we vote yes on June 1 on Avon Commons C-3, let us not forget that Mitchell Schneider still has a lot of hoops to jump through for the Planning Commission.

We have heard some residents worry that Mr. Schneider will be able to do whatever he wants after June 1. This is definitely not the case.

In fact, he has gone on record several times with his plans; and, frankly, Avon will soon be the home of one of the most beautiful open - air malls in Northeast Ohio. He still has to get approvals for everything he is going to build.

Our vote will not stop development at State Route 83 and Detroit Road. In fact, a 'yes' vote on June 1 assures us that we get more 'green space' in the development. A C-3 designation requires 30 percent green space rather than 20 percent green space with C-2.

We fully support the project, and any Avon resident who knows the facts would too. A 'yes' vote will get us traffic signals that work, an outdoor gazebo and amphitheater, superior stores and recreational pathways. A 'no' vote does not get us anything.

Avon residents seem to want the best for their community. Let's not stop now. Join us in voting 'YES' on Avon Commons C-3 on June 1."

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There will be a public showing of the Avon Commons video at 10 am on Monday, 5-24-99, at the Avon Lions Community Center, 2155 Eaton Drive.

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 5-22-99, By TOM GERMUSKA, JR. and MORGAN LEWIS, JR., Morning Journal Writers

"Mall election 'secret'

AVON -- Avon residents will vote on the future of the proposed Avon Commons shopping center, but the results of the special June 1 election will remain a secret until a protest is decided by the Ohio Supreme Court.

The state's high court ruled yesterday that the Lorain County Board of Elections will tabulate Avon's election results but must not make them public. After votes are counted, the ballots and results will be impounded -- which means they will be sealed and filed with the Supreme Court, according to yesterday's decision.

The delay in announcing the results will allow the regular schedule for a complaint filed by attorney Gerald Phillips, who has challenged the validity of the petitions collected for the special election, to be followed ...

The schedule of motions and replies filed by Phillips and attorneys representing the Lorain County Board of Elections will not conclude until June 4, according to the Supreme Court schedule. A decision could take weeks beyond the June 4 deadline.

''I don't know what's going to happen, we'll have to wait and see,'' Phillips said.

Thursday, the Lorain County Board of Elections reviewed Phillips' complaint and voted 3-0 to allow Avon's special election to proceed ...

Gerald Innes, the assistant county prosecutor who serves as counsel for the county board of elections, said that even without the disputed signatures, there would still be enough votes for the special election.

If the Supreme Court overturns the board of elections decision, the results of the special June 1 election will not matter, but also may never be known.

Marilyn Jacobcik, executive director for the board of elections, said she heard about the Supreme Court ruling but was awaiting ''written directives'' yesterday afternoon.

The ruling will change very little about the June 1 election process, she said, but may create some additional costs for transport of the results to Columbus.

Another issue and additional cost stems from the timing of the election, Mrs. Jacobcik said. Because the election falls the day after Memorial Day, the election board office must be open on Memorial Day and the previous Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until noon to allow for absentee voters.

Paying staff for working holiday time is a personnel cost covered by the county, Mrs. Jacobcik said.

If Avon Commons fails at the June 1 special election, Schneider said he plans a series of smaller projects -- including a small strip mall and an office complex -- that do not require a zoning change.

It was the alternative proposals for the land that originally spurred Barnhart to collect signatures for a second chance on Avon Commons, which includes more trees, landscaping and a brick wall that will line Detroit Road to block much of the shopping center from sight. Plans also include a walking pathway and a 2-acre summer concert area with a gazebo and an amphitheater."

EDITORIAL from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 5-22-99

"Avon Commons 'Yes' for C3 zoning

Some things are different, some are not as Avon voters again take up the proposal to change zoning to permit the $65 million Avon Commons shopping center project. We endorsed this plan when it was on the ballot last November, and we do so again for the June 1 special election.

The differences since the last referendum make it seem even more worthy of support now.

The issue is whether Avon voters want to permit reclassification from C-2 to C3 zoning of the 85 acres between I-90 and Detroit Road just east of Center Road.

A ''no'' vote keeps it C2, permitting commercial development but limiting the size of stores and requiring only 20 percent of greenspace and no traffic improvements or other amenities.

A ''yes'' vote would change the site owned by First Interstate Development Corp. to C-3 and permit construction of an open air shopping center that would include three stores 80,000 square feet or larger.

Developer Mitchell Schneider would have to provide 30 percent or more of green space -- with wider buffers along Detroit and Center roads -- and pay for traffic lanes and signals on the nearby roads at a cost of $1.8 million.

The number of larger stores is one thing that has changed. Schneider has moved one of his proposed tenants to another site already zoned C3, next to an I-90 interchange on the west side of the city. He now wants to build just three of the larger stores at the Avon Commons site, having replaced the fourth with three more restaurants.

He hasn't got tenants on the dotted line -- they won't sign until the zoning is set -- but Schneider's short list of prospects for those larger stores is Target, Home Depot and the Kohl's Department Store.

To give you an idea of what might go in the rest of the center, Schneider has said that other possibilities are Old Navy, Barnes & Noble, Dick's Sporting Goods, Linens & Things and Michaels Arts & Crafts. There would also be a 16-screen Cinemark theater.

Two other differences in this campaign are its sponsors and its focus. Schneider is lending his financial support, of course, but the instigator of this ballot issue was Bob Barnhart, an Avon resident and former Avon High School superintendent. He said he realized after the November defeat that development of the site would proceed in any case under C2 zoning, and that with C3 it would be better for the community

Schneider would be required, and willing, to add not only the traffic improvements and greenspace, but also such amenities as walking trails, a gazebo and an amphitheater that could serve as a community gathering place.

Last year, people who opposed this project pleaded for Avon to keep its quiet, country atmosphere. Barnhart and other supporters of the change have tried turn the focus of this election to a key point: Change is coming in any case. It isn't a question of ''development versus no development,'' but of a good project versus a mediocre one.

We agree with him. Development is coming to the land at Detroit and Center roads. Shouldn't it be the best possible plan? We strongly recommend that Avon voters say ''yes'' June 1 to Avon Commons."

             OHIO SUPREME COURT
                     
                 CHIEF JUSTICE
                Thomas J. Moyer
             term expires 12-31-02
                     
Deborah Cook                Alice Robie Resnick
term expires 1-1-00         term expires 1-1-01
                     
                     
Andrew Douglas              Francis E. Sweeney
term expires 12-31-02       term expires 12-31-02
                     
Paul E. Pfeifer             Evelyn L. Stratton
term expires 1-1-99         term expires 1-1-03
                     


                MAILING ADDRESS

               Ohio Supreme Court
         30 E. Broad Street, 3rd Floor
            Columbus, OH  43266-0419
                 1-800-826-9010

For Further Information:

Ohio Roundtable Voter's Tools - Ohio Supreme Court

NEWS ARTICLE from THE PLAIN DEALER, 5-22-98, By Rich Exner

"AVON - ... The Lorain County Board of Elections on Thursday [5-20-99] voted 3-0 to reject the protest ... Phillips said he did believe his arguments received fair consideration before the board of elections ...

Avon resident Robert Barnhart who led the petition drive ... said he was confident the vote would count.

''I have to think the same results will come out of the Supreme Court.'' Barnhart said. ''And I do not think any uncertainty will have any significant effect on the vote.''

Gerald Innes, the assistant county prosecutor who handles matters for the board of elections, said he had no problem with sealing the results.

''That allows us to go ahead with the election, which is what we wanted to do, and give the Supreme Court time to look at everything before making a ruling,'' Innes said.

The Court voted 6-1 in favor of impounding the ballots and sealing the results. Justice Francis E. Sweeney dissented, saying that the deadline for legal filings should be moved up to Tuesday [5-25-99].

Under an expedited time schedule, final briefs are to be filed with the Court by June 4, court spokeswoman Regina Koehler said. A ruling could then come within days. Koehler said a quick review of cases over the last five years found no other instances when ballots were impounded.

She said yesterday's ruling [5-21-99] does not mean the justices have addressed the merits of the case ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM (5-22-99) By Joe Mosbrook Jr.

"AVON - ... Phillips had asked the Supreme Court to cancel the election altogether ...

The [impoundment] action is not a first in Ohio. The high court made a similar order in 1996 when a North Royalton landowner also protested the validity of petitions for a city zoning initiative ..."

Newspaper Record of XXXXX/Jacobs in Avon

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

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