ARTICLE from THE FRIENDS OF WETLANDS NEWSLETTER, 6-99, By Kathy Herbst

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"Update on Avon Commons vs Vista, 85 acres vs 500 acres.

Editor John Katko (jkatko@juno.com) writes:

The results of the June 1 [1999] Avon referendum to rezone some commercial land for more intensive use ... [The rezoning from C2 to C3 would result in LESS intensive use because of the C3 30% greenspace requirement -- compare with 20% for C2] ... have been impounded until the courts rule on whether the enabling petitions were valid.

Many opponents of the referendum don't want any commercial development, and there is an assumption by some people that this court challenge has been brought forward by these conservationist opponents who fear the referendum results will allow this Schneider project, Avon Commons, to go forward.

However, Mrs. Herbst, who owns property at the edge of the land marked for the much larger 'Vista' project by Stark and Jacobs (cf. the December 97 and March 98 newsletters), and who has been closely following these developments for some time, offers a different analysis of the situation.

The votes are in and counted, but the results are known only by Marilyn Jacobcik and one other employee of the Board of Elections who is verifying the count.

Although a special election took place 6-1-99 to change the zoning of 85 acres of land on Detroit east of SR 83 from C2 to C3 (to allow Avon Commons Shopping Center), the result of the vote has been impounded by the Ohio Supreme Court until they have a chance to evaluate the merits of a complaint by attorneys Gerald Phillips and Timothy Grendell.

Phillips and Grendell claim the election should not have been allowed due to fraud, deception, and errors made by the citizens committee who got over 2300 signatures on a petition supporting the zoning change. I can understand Phillips not wanting a shopping center across the street from his house, but where and how does Mr. Grendell fit into the picture?

Mr. Grendell is a lawyer who has worked for shopping center developer Robert L. Stark who has to his credit The Promenade in Westlake and The Strip south of Canton. Robert L Stark and Richard E. Jacobs had formed a partnership to develop the 500 acre project named Vista in the NE corner of Avon that included a new interchange on I-90 at Nagel Rd.

The best reason Mr. Stark could give for putting in the interchange was that it would make the distance between interchanges consistent (i.e.every two miles instead of a four mile gap). Early talk of this from the developer's representative included 4 superstores and all the buildings they could fit between Nagel and Jaycox Rds., I-90 and Detroit Rd.

Mr. Stark is no longer with the project. Current pictures show the proposed commercial portion of the Vista Project has been changed to North of I-90 (due to public opinion??) where Jacobs has purchased 222 acres that is currently zoned industrial. Jacobs and Stark held separate options on approx. 300 acres South of I-90 which is proposed to be developed office park, retail, and residential with a 30 acre park, presently wooded wetlands.

The Vista Project would require a new zoning classification in Avon called "multi-use". In my opinion it should be called "Developer's Carte Blanche".

Some info about both (Vista and Avon Commons) projects:

Back to Avon Commons: If it's not an either/or decision, why did Tony Wiegand, using Jacobs Corp Headquarters address form a PAC that spent close to $50,000 attempting to defeat the Avon Commons issue last November? Bob Stark stated at an early presentation that there would only be one shopping center in Avon.

Some citizens in Avon, myself included, are of the opinion that if Avon Commons does not go in under C3 zoning that the 500 acre Vista project could go in even if citizens voted it down because Avon only has 19 acres of C3 zoned property.

It COULD be argued in court that 19 acres is not enough retail space to serve the needs of 75,000 people,( Avon at total build-out). Whether or not they could win in court is a MOOT POINT...AVON DOESN'T HAVE THE MONEY TO FIGHT THEM IN COURT. If we have to have commercial let's have the smaller of the two."

Friends of Wetlands is a local grassroots organization fighting to preserve the remaining seven percent of Ohio's swamps, marshes, bogs, fens and other wet places. The group does this through public education, monitoring and shaping government policy, providing guidance to people trying to preserve a specific wetland, and developing resources and networks that facilitate wetlands conservation.

Friends of Wetlands (FOWL) is a not-for-profit group dedicated to the preservation and restoration of wetlands throughout northern Ohio and the United States.

For more information:

Friends of Wetlands at P.O. Box 2016, Elyria, OH 44036. (440) 324-7522

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