JoAnne Easterday, in her CROSS ROADS column, 3-10-99, writes "It will be interesting to see how much adverse literature sponsored by the rival developers Stark/ Jacobs will materialize to try to influence the people of Avon on Schneider's development." Not only how much but WHERE is of interest.
Mike Sakal, The Chronicle-Telegram, 3-4-99, writes "Some supporters of Avon Commons ... have argued that defeating a rezoning initiative favoring Avon Commons on June 1 will open the city to legal action." Sakal's article was followed up with an editorial.
Sakal quotes Alan Weinstein, a professor of law and planning at Cleveland State University, as follows: "There are no statutory requirements that are required of a community to have a certain amount of zoning for certain things,'' While this statement may be true regarding the Ohio Revised Code, it is, to say the least, misleading. Zoning is also controlled by the U. S. Constitution, federal law, and court decisions.
For example, Avon recently made sexually oriented businesses a permitted use in industrially zoned areas because of First Amendment cases. According to an article in the Plain Dealer, December 31, 1998, the City of Mentor through its insurance had to pay GTE Mobilnet "well in excess of $1 million," because Mentor had violated the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 by delaying construction of a tower. A court also ruled that GTE can build the tower.
The most glaring example of a court changing the zoning in a city was inflicted on Avon by Judge Thomas Janas on June 8, 1998. Judge Janas ruled in favor of Stark/Jacobs lawyers Timothy Grendell and Tom Smith against the Zoning Officer, the Planning Commission, and the Zoning Board of Appeals of the City of Avon when Janas outlawed that portion of Avon's zoning law which said that all the provisions of C-3 apply in C-2 if a project is more than 10 acres.
There were no "statutory requirements" in the Ohio Revised Code for Judge Janas' decision; but Stark/Jacobs still got their way. Why were Stark/Jacobs willing to spend almost $50,000 to defeat Avon Commons on November 3, 1998? Stark answered this question when he said that there will only be one shopping center in Avon. The retail market in the Avon area cannot absorb Avon Commons and the Stark/Jacobs project.
Stark/Jacobs do not need any particular excuse to sue Avon for their zoning if they have the incentive to do so, namely no commercial competiton from Avon Commons. The important question is does Avon have the financial resources to defend itself against top legal talent willing to relentlessly attack and appeal.