Tuesday, May 24, 2016

North Canton CRA Property Tax Abatements Undermine Our Schools and Enrich Corporate Interests and Multi-millionaires

Prepared Comments Made to
May 23, 2016

           I would like to recite the children’s story of Chicken Little that we remember from our youth as a learning aid to the current discussion on the proposed expansion of the City’s CRA.

           Chicken Little woke up one morning and went for a walk in the town where she lived. While walking, an acorn from a tall oak tree fell and hit her on the head with a PLUNK!  
“The sky is falling, the sky is falling!” she yelled. “I must run and warn the King!”  
On the way, she ran into Henny Penny. “Chicken Little, what’s wrong?” asked Henny Penny. 
“The sky is falling, the sky is falling! We must run and warn the King!” cried Chicken Little…. 
“I will run with you!” said Henny Penny. So Chicken Little and Henny Penny ran together…. 
[And so on and so on] until Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey all ran together. Soon they ran into Foxy Loxy.  
“You will be safe in my den,” said clever Foxy Loxy. “You can hide in there. I will run and tell the king.” 
So Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey followed Foxy Loxy to his den. They were never seen or heard from again.

          The moral in this story is that when something happens, one should not believe
whatever first comes to one’s mind to be the cause or believe the first possible 
option to be true. 

          The story of Chicken Little teaches us to think before jumping to conclusions. 

          How can this Council conclude that North Canton is so blighted that the sky is falling? Investment in North Canton is not discouraged as the statute requires for the creation of a CRA. 

          The Main Street trailer park that has been described as blighted did not discourage investment in that area. This is evidenced by the fact that O-Reilley Auto Parts and CVS Pharmacy both built on property abutting the trailer park. 

          The property tax abatement given for North Ridge Place, the 40 unit apartment complex built on the former site of the trailer park was unconscionable. The abatement, 100% for fifteen years, amounts to $59,129, in 2015 dollars, per year, will total close to a million dollars over the term of fifteen years. 

          The property may be residential in nature, but it is investment property that will result in the diversion of needed funds to the North Canton City Schools. The North Canton library and several North Canton levies also will not receive the revenue earmarked for them in the distribution of property taxes.

          North Canton’s CRA is an affront to the taxpayers of the City as it is being administered to forgive taxes on properties owned by corporations and multi-millionaires. These individuals and entities are high net worth individuals who can easily absorb the payment of property taxes into their business activities. 

          I have a handout to leave with you that shows the unfortunate stakeholders in the loss of the property taxes you are abating. 

         The North Canton City Schools are the major loser in this expansion of the CRA program. Ordinance 32-2016 will bring riches to the rich, but financial decline to our City Schools. 

         Mr. Griffith, you have repeatedly stated that the schools will realize a boost in revenue when the terms of these abatements run their course. 

         Could you or anyone on this Council live without a raise in salary for the next 10 or 12 or 15 years? That is what you are asking the North Canton City Schools to live with. 

         Do not be a casualty like Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Goosey Loosey, or Turkey Lurkey. 

         The sky is not falling! If North Canton properties are not maintained, there are zoning codes on the books to deal with those issues. 

         You cannot give away the lifeblood of the City as you are doing to get homeowners to maintain their properties. 

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

May 2, 2016 - North Canton Council of the Whole Meeting

North Canton Residents and Anyone Having Interest in the Business of North Canton City Government:

Pasted below is a link to a video of the North Canton Council of the Whole meeting held on Monday, May 2, 2016.

Description of Video: 
May 2, 2016, – North Canton Committee of the Whole Meeting: 
The video covers a North Canton Committee of the Whole meeting lasting just under an hour in length. The meeting is called to order approximately one minute into the video.  
Following roll call, Council President Peters calls for a vote to excuse Councilmember Marcia Kiesling as she was absent. This is Council-member Kiesling’s third meeting absence. Mrs. Kiesling has also failed to attend meetings of Council on February 8, 2016, and on March 7, 2016. 
          The agenda for the Committee of the Whole meeting consisted of the following for legislative action: 
          •         Emergency legislation to increase the salary and vacation allowance for of exempt employees. These are employees who work at the pleasure of either the Mayor or City Council. 
          •         Emergency Resolution authorizing the Mayor to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the North Canton Police Department and the Stark County’s Sheriff’s Office to support the Stark County OVI Task Force. 
          •         A presentation on the City’s response to mitigate impact of flooding from the Zimber Ditch. 
          •         Legislation authorizing expenditure of $3,000 in donated funds for the purchase of trees. 
          1:50 minutes into the video, Council President Peters, as Chairperson of the Personnel and Safety Committee, introduces proposed legislation to increase the salaries and vacation allowances for the City’s exempt employees. The specific positions initially targeted for the increase in compensation levels are depicted in the following table.
          The discussion on the proposed increase in compensation levels ultimately was expanded to include all exempt employees. The Clerk of Council position was clearly one of the additional exempt positions mentioned but there are several other exempt positions in the City. It is my understanding that the two clerks in the Mayor’s office and the Director of Economic Development are exempt employees. 
I might add that any increase in salary would not reflect the added sixteen percent in pension contributions paid on behalf of the employee by the City. For example, an exempt employee making $100,000 annual actually receives $116,000 per year. The extra sixteen thousand dollars is the City’s contribution to that employee’s pension. 
In the Mayor’s State of the City presentation just a week ago, if memory serves me correctly, income tax collections for this year are down from last year.
With City Council’s plans to expand the City’s Community Reinvestment Areas (CRAs) thus increasing the number of tax abatements going to Corporations and multi-millionaires, one has to wonder how the City is going to survive financially.  
The proposed increases in compensation levels to employees who work at the pleasure of either the Mayor or City Council was the significant topic of the meeting. 
I might add that there was no mention of the nearly forty-four percent raise in the cards for North Canton Law Director Tim Fox. And I might add that Mr. Fox did not utter a word the entire night. Perhaps he did not want to bring any attention to his proposed hefty raise. 
16:20 minutes into the video, Chairperson Peters discusses the proposed Emergency Resolution noted earlier. 
17:25 minutes into the video, Ward 4 Councilperson, as Chairperson of Street and Alley makes a presentation an update to Council on the Zimber Ditch and the City’s flood mitigation efforts. Mr. Fonte concludes his presentation at 43:25 minutes. 
43:25 minutes into the video, Chairperson Dan Griffith discusses his proposal to authorize expenditure of $3,000 of donated funds for the purchase of ornamental trees. 
44:50 minutes into the video, Council President Peters asks to amend the agenda to allow Councilmember Cerreta to propose that the Dogwood tree serve as North Canton's official City tree. Mr. Cerreta made this proposal in anticipation of the upcoming 3rd Reading next week to remove the North Canton tagline as “The Dogwood City” given that there was some citizen opposition to removing the "Dogwood City” tagline. 
47:20 minutes into the video, Chairman Peters again amended the agenda to allow Councilmember Foltz to update Council on Park and Recreation issues. 
57:20 minutes into the video, the Council meeting was concluded. 

The video ends at the one hour mark (1:00 minutes). 
Thank you,
Chuck Osborne


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Failed Tax Abatements Had No Impact on Business Development in North Canton

Prepared Comments Made to
April 18, 2016  

The number of tax abatements to businesses that have been approved by North Canton City Council over the years but that ultimately were found to be unworkable, resulting in NO abatement of taxes, yet led to relocation or expansion in North Canton, should be cause for concern.  

Members of City Council should be asking themselves, “Were these abatements really necessary?” 

The oft-repeated argument in support of the abatement of taxes each and every time a request is made is that the business would relocate or expand elsewhere if the abatement were not provided.  

A memorable quote made by Mona Lisa Vito in the movie, My Cousin Vinny, seems appropriate here when she says, “Well, that plans moot.” Arguing that a business will relocate or expand elsewhere if a tax abatement is not given is unfounded. In other words, “That argument is moot!” 

Specific abatements, authorized by City Council, that proved unworkable and yet the businesses relocated or expanded in North Canton are the following:  

In 2006, legislation was before City Council for an abatement of taxes for Dr. Suglio. Despite the fact that I made Council aware of issues regarding this abatement, Council nonetheless approved the abatement only to pass additional legislation a month later rescinding the abatement. Dr. Suglio continued his investment on Main Street without an abatement of property taxes and later opened up his Gourmet Coffee Shop.  

Link to the January 9, 2006 remarks to City Council regarding the Suglio abatement is below:  


In 2007, there were discussions to approve an abatement of taxes for the construction of a Sherwin-Williams Paint Store on Applegrove. When I asked why a $28 billion a year company needed a tax abatement, this abatement was quashed before legislation came up for a vote. As we all know, there is a Sherwin-Williams Paint Store on Applegrove today, and amazingly, it did not require the loss of scarce tax dollars needed by the North Canton City Schools, the North Canton City Library, the Stark County Park District, or the City of North Canton. 

Link to the May 14, 2007 remarks to City Council regarding the Sherwin-Williams tax abatement is below: 


In 2009, following approval of a liquor option by voters, the Fred W. Albrecht Grocery Company announced that they were embarking on an expansion of the store’s Liquor Department as well as a remodel of the entire Acme Fresh Market Store on North Main Street.  

Link to the April 13, 2009 remarks to City Council regarding the Acme abatement is below:  


Amazingly, AFTER the announced expansion, North Canton’s Director of Economic Development, Eric Bowles, contacted Acme Fresh Market and offered a tax abatement.  


And more astonishingly, this Council body approved the abatement with passage of Ordinance No. 33-09.  

Again, I ask, WHY? 

The Acme Fresh Market Store had been an anchor store for twenty-years in North Canton and their announcement to expand and remodel indicated their intention to remain in the City.  

This was not a prudent decision on the part of Mr. Bowles at that time. The recommendation from Mr. Bowles that Council should now expand the City’s CRA Program is equally ill-advised.  

In my recent conversations with the Stark County Auditor’s office, I have learned that the Fred W. Albrecht Grocery Company never actually received any abatement of property taxes as the store improvements never raised the appraised valuation of the property, yet the business has remained in North Canton. 

In 2011, City Council gave an Industrial and Commercial Occupancy grant to Ben Suarez for what was called Project Omega under Ordinance 53-11. The Suarez Corporation never met any of the requirements to qualify for any rebate of taxes.  

Link to the May 23, 2011 remarks to City Council regarding the grant to The Suarez Corp. 


In 2012, City Council approved an Industrial and Commercial Retention Grant for Crowl, Montgomery & Clark with the passage of Ordinance No. 68-12. This is a digital marketing firm that had operated out of office space on North Main Street for two decades and decided to relocate its offices to an old Victorian house on South Main Street.  

I am not sure how a digital marketing company fits the requirements of an Industrial and Commercial Grant and that may be why the business never executed a grant agreement. Crowl, Montgomery & Clark ultimately never received any tax dollars, yet they remained in North Canton. 

There is no one who could say that North Canton City Council doesn’t try hard to give away tax dollars needed by the North Canton City Schools, the Library, the Stark County Park District, or just the City of North Canton. The past history of the failed abatements seems to underscore that the abatements were not critical to the businesses as they are a part of our community despite NOT receiving the abatement. 

A summary of the Ohio Community Reinvestment Area Program states, “Ohio’s CRA Program was created to promote the revitalization of areas where investment has been discouraged….” 

Creation of CRAs in the City is not needed and declaring that any area of North Canton discourages investment is wholly untrue. Banks are still lending to creditworthy applicants who want to build or refurbish structures throughout the City of North Canton. 

In the future, voters will find it difficult to approve levies, school or not, knowing that City Council is handing out tax dollars to millionaires, corporations, and businesses that need no encouragement to stay and grow in North Canton. 

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

North Canton CRA Tax Abatements Raise Serious Practical and Moral Questions for Taxpayers and Our Local School District

Prepared Comments Made to
April 11, 2016 

It is pretty well accepted in case law that the courts will rarely meddle in the legislative actions and decisions made by elected bodies of city governments as there is the presumption that representative governments are acting on behalf of their constituency. 

In 2005, while in the midst of a major renovation to our home, my wife and I became aware of legislation working its way through City Council modifying or expanding an existing program called a Community Reinvestment Area (CRA). The program provided an abatement of taxes on the increased valuation of the property resulting from improvements to existing housing stock in the City. 

Mindful that $150,000 in improvements to our home was a substantial investment and that we were indeed making improvements to the City’s existing housing stock, my wife and I enrolled in City’s CRA program. The program, first implemented in 1999, was a legislative action of our elected representatives.  

Who were we to question the legislative actions of North Canton City Council? 

Does anyone on City Council believe the program has served our Community in a positive manner over the seventeen years the CRA program has existed in North Canton? 

And now this Council wants to expand the CRA and make it a City-wide program.  

I do not believe this program is serving the City and has not since its inception. 

 Was my home blighted and deserving of a tax abatement for after all, that was the purpose of the program? 

NO, it was NOT blighted.  

Did my wife and I need a financial incentive to improve our property eleven years ago? Again, the answer is NO! 

There are seven other participants currently receiving tax abatements in the City’s CRA program and I can say without hesitation that they also did not need a financial incentive for the investments they made in their properties.  

Six of the properties receiving tax abatements are corporations.  

Five of the eight properties receiving tax abatement are for new construction. 

Two of the property owners receiving tax abatements are well-known individuals who are multi-millionaires in our community.  

North Canton’s CRA program is nothing but a tax giveaway pure and simple. The taxes that you are abating are revenue desperately needed by the North Canton City School District. 

On Sunday, April 3, 2016, the Repository ran a front page story titled “REBUILDING THE VIKINGS’ COFFERS.” This story is a prelude to what is looming for the North Canton City Schools. 

The abatement of property taxes for improvements, at most, should be limited to existing housing structures as was the original purpose of the program.  

And with only two homeowners in seventeen years utilizing the program to improve existing housing, with neither owner needing an incentive to do so, it is quite obvious that the entire program is an utter failure.  

In the spread sheet that I have passed around, I have tallied up the costs of the abatement to the City and the School District. For 2015, there has been a loss of nearly $100,000 in tax collections; two- thirds of that total would have gone to the schools.  

A tally of the forgone taxes over the full term of each of the eight abatements totals $1,346,345. This loss will rise as property valuations increase over the years. 

The CRA is nothing more than a tax dodge that has predominately benefited corporate interests and millionaires, all to the detriment of the North Canton City School District. 

Lastly, I want to call to your attention the abatement of taxes for the construction of a 40-unit apartment complex, called North Ridge Place, LTD at 1303 N. Main St. 

This abatement is immoral and possibly illegal. It is also unfair to the taxpayers of North Canton. It is highly detrimental to the North Canton City Schools, and backlash on this abatement could very well lead to the defeat of the next school levy. 

I have looked for a record of any Council action on this abatement and have found none.  

Mayor Held, the terms for this particular CRA abatement have resulted in forgone property taxes in 2015 of $59,129. Over the fifteen-year term of this abatement, the City and the North Canton City School District will have forgone over ONE MILLION DOLLARS in revenue on this one abatement alone.  

If your Director of Permits & Inspection, Mr. Bowles, made the unilateral decision to approve this abatement, and it appears he did, you should ask for his resignation. 

This loss of public funds on this abatement is unconscionable and can only result from malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance on the part of Mr. Bowles. 

Further, I ask that this Council reexamine many of the CRA abatements currently outstanding and terminate all the tax abatements that do not result in rehabilitation of existing housing structures in the City. 

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Monday, December 14, 2015

North Canton City Council Meetings Repeatedly Violate City Charter and City Ordinances Governing Rules of Council

Prepared Comments Made to
December 14, 2015           

            It would seem that everyone at City Hall, and most especially individuals connected to the Office of City Council, no longer feel compelled to follow or comply with the City’s Charter or its ordinances. 
           Section 2.04 of the City’s Charter states in part, “…Council shall meet at such times as may be prescribed by its rules, regulations, by-laws, or by resolution or ordinance, except that it shall hold regular meetings at least once during each calendar month.” 

            In the months of July and December of 2014, this Council body failed to hold a regular meeting during each of those calendar months.  

            Under the City’s Codified Ordinances, Part One, Title Three, Chapter 111, titled COUNCIL:  

“Chapter 111.01(a) states “Council of the City of North Canton, (“Council”) shall meet on the second and fourth Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m. in Council chambers….” 

Why did this Council body hold a regular Council meeting on the first Monday of the month?
(December 7, 2015) when North Canton Ordinance requires a Committee of the Whole meetings on the first Monday of the month?  

            How can residents observe voting on legislation when legislative voting nights do not comply with rules of Council and City ordinances?  

This is one of many meetings over the last eighteen months that have not complied with the rules of Council regarding the scheduling of Council meetings on the prescribed night.  

These actions by North Canton City Council are contrary to our City Charter and the very laws each of you are sworn to uphold.  

“Chapter 111.01(f) states: “Council shall meet as a Committee of the Whole on the first, third, and fifth Monday…”  

Tonight you have scheduled a “Special” Committee of the Whole meeting. What is a “Special” Committee of  the Whole?  

            In the nearly sixteen years I have observed North Canton’s legislative agenda, I have never seen such an animal. It is not described in City ordinances nor is it described in the City Charter.  

            A “Special” Committee of the Whole meeting is an invention of the newly appointed Council Clerk who, unfortunately, was never trained to function under North Canton’s municipal home rule form of government. 

            How could this current membership of City Council have expected an individual to fill a position as Clerk of Council with absolutely no training? Previous appointees as Council Clerks had trained for years before appointment as Clerk of Council. 

This is the fallout from the loss of a highly valued, highly-skilled, and extremely professional Council Clerk who had served North Canton City Council for nearly seventeen years before she was pushed out as North Canton Clerk of Council. 

Your actions in allowing her to be treated in such a manner were shameful and counterproductive for yourselves. 

“Section 2.04 of the City’s Charter further states in part, “…Special meetings of the Council may be called as prescribed by its rules, regulations, by-laws, or by resolution or by ordinance. In the absence of any such provisions, special meetings may be called by a vote of Council taken an any regular or special meeting thereof, or shall be called by the Clerk of Council upon written request of the Mayor, or the President of Council, or by any three (3) members of Council.  

Notice in writing of each special meeting called at the request of the Mayor, President of Council, or by three(3) members of council, shall state the date, and time , subjects to be considered and no other subject or subjects shall be considered thereat…” 

            Is City Council following all of the requirements specified in the City’s Charter to call a Special Council meeting? To confirm compliance, I would like to see all written requests for Special Council meetings held over the last two years.  

            They are called Special Council meetings for a reason. The subjects to be considered must be described in the written request for the meeting. I do not believe that this is being done.  

            On December 1, 2014, a Special Council meeting was held. Ten pieces of legislation were voted on. This was a Committee of the Whole night.  

            Did this Special Council meeting comply with North Canton’s City Charter?
            No, it did not!  

            North Canton City Council must comply with the laws it legislates for itself and for its citizens. 

            Due process and the laws of North Canton must be followed.  

Each of you took an oath to do just that!  

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne, Resident
City of North Canton

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

North Canton Allows Wholesale Violations of Zoning Code in Expansion of Hoover District South Parking Lot

Prepared Comments Made to
September 29, 2015  

            I am here tonight on an appeal filed first on October 10, 2014, by myself and my wife, and subsequently again by my wife and me and numerous other City residents, on November 7, 2014 from a recommendation of the Planning Commission to allow expansion of the Hoover District South Parking Lot. 

Both appeals filed with the City are part of the record now on file.  

The City of North Canton has allowed wholesale violations of its Zoning Code in the expansion of the Hoover District South Parking Lot. 

            The origins of the city’s participation in the gross mishandling of the required approvals for the planned expansion began when after approving a zone change for the portion of the parking lot from residential to business late in 2013, Maple Street Commerce alerted the City that it wished to decline the zone change to business previously approved by the City’s Planning Commission.  

            At this point, it did not take a genius to realize that something was amiss and that it was not going to be pretty.  Despite unanimous opposition from nearby residents, the expansion was approved by the City’s Planning Commission.  

            The wholesale violations of the City’s Zoning Code are almost too numerous to detail in the time allotted here tonight. I will attempt to highlight the violations that are part of the record now on file. 


-          Requires satellite parking spaces intended for employee spaces be located within 400 feet walking distance of the public entrance. Before expansion even started the distance was already nearly 410 feet away. Expansion has increased that distance to a minimum of 560 feet.  

-          Requires width of parking spaces to be 10 feet. When the YMCA expanded their parking lot a number of years ago, they were required to comply with the 10 foot requirement. 

The Hoover District was allowed 9 foot parking spaces resulting in greater density of cars and more traffic to the lot. 

-          Requires landscaping on the interior parking lot – in the minutes of the May 7, 2014, Planning Commission meeting, member Tim Morrow raised this concern stating “…your landscaping – a third-grader could have come up with a better plan than that.” Mr. Morrow also stated that “…you’re trying to create an office building complex and you have a factory parking lot. I think you’ve got some serious problems.”  

Total Noncompliance with this chapter of the City’s Zoning Code!


-          No compliance with this chapter of the zoning code, especially regarding outdoor lighting.  

Given that neighborhoods to the south and southeast of the parking lot have lost not one but two protective buffer of trees, one being the mature Pin Oaks on East Maple and the second being the hundreds of trees immediately abutting our properties on the south side of the parking lot, this requirement is critically important. 

At the May 7, 2014, Planning Commission meeting, Commission member Tim Morrow stated “…lighting, needs low level lighting in that parking lot - right now you’ve got those old factory lights in that parking lot, that’s totally unacceptable in my mind.”  

With the loss of all the trees, lighting from the building and the street needs to be addressed.  

Total Noncompliance with this chapter of the City’s Zoning Code!


-          This section covers some of the requirements in the code previously noted as well as requirements not previously addressed in other chapters to include: minimizing impact on adjacent property owners, ensuring project will not be detrimental on property values in the immediate vicinity etc. 

Total Noncompliance with this chapter of the City’s Zoning Code!


-          States “Although a use may be indicated as a permitted principal, conditional or accessory use in a particular residential district, it shall not be approved on a parcel unless it can be located thereon in full compliance with all the standards and other regulations of this Ordinance…” 


Total Noncompliance with this chapter of the City’s Zoning Code!


-          States “The Planning Commission shall review the proposed use…to determine whether or not the proposed use is appropriate and in keeping with the purpose and intent of the Zoning Ordinance…and complies with the general criteria established for all conditional uses and the specific requirements established for that particular use, as set forth in Chapter 1145 of this Zoning Ordinance. 

Total Noncompliance with this chapter of the City’s Zoning Code! 

            I might add that Judge Farmer has already affirmed one particular violation under this chapter of the City’s Zoning Code in her recent ruling requiring this council body to hear our appeal. Chapter 1177.10 requires Council action on Planning Commission recommendations. This Council has failed to do so. 

            How is it that Maples Street Commerce was able to start construction of the parking lot without all the required approvals? And further, how is it that Maple Street Commerce was able to start construction after an appeal was presented to the City?


-          This chapter states in part that the purpose of the Zoning Code is to “regulate and restrict the ways in which land can be used in order to promote the public health, safety, convenience, prosperity, or general welfare.” 

Some of the listed purposes of the City’s Zoning Code are to provide adequate open spaces for light and air, to protect the character and value of residential areas, and manage congestion on the streets by locating uses in such a manner that they will cause the least interference with, and be damaged least by traffic movements. 

Total Noncompliance with this chapter of the City’s Zoning Code! 

            I am sorry to see this City and this Council behave in the manner it has regarding the expansion of this parking lot that has greatly intruded onto the peace and tranquility of a North Canton neighborhood. 

            Common Pleas Court Judge Farmer in her ruling had it right when she said the actions of North Canton City Council were unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable. 

            I ask that City Council reverse or modify the recommendations of the Planning Commission without delay and enforce immediate compliance of all zoning requirements.

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Monday, September 14, 2015

Actions by North Canton City Council Violate the Court’s Ruling and City Law!

Prepared Comments Made to
September 14, 2015 

            Unbelievable as it sounds, members of North Canton City Council apparently do not want to hear from its citizens nor do they want to uphold the laws each have sworn to uphold when they took the oath of office as elected representatives of the citizens of North Canton.           

            As proof of that statement is the nearly one-year long appeal to City Council for a hearing, appealing the approval of a “Conditional Use” permit by the City’s Planning Commission, at a meeting held on October 8, 2014, allowing expansion of the Hoover District Parking Lot into an area zoned residential (R-2F) without compliance with the City’s Zoning Code. 

            The appeal process is guaranteed in Ordinance 1177.11 of the City’s Zoning Code. It is written in plain simple English that anyone can understand. 

            Stark County Court of Common Pleas Judge Kristin Farmer can indeed, read plain simple English.

            Judge Farmer ruled on August 21, 2015, that “…North Canton City Council’s dismissal of the Appellants[’] (sic) appeal pursuant to Ordinance 1177.11 was unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.”
I hope this Council understands that it has wasted City tax dollars fighting the very residents you are sworn to represent. 

One would think that the ruling of Judge Farmer was also quite clear.  

All assertions by North Canton City Council to the court regarding who could or could not and who did or did not have standing to appeal were dismissed entirely by Judge Farmer in her ruling from the court and that brings me to the point of my remarks tonight.  

Last week, I received a letter, dated September 3, 2015, from Clerk of Council Mary Beth Bailey, outlining the following rules and procedures for the appeal hearing scheduled before City Council on September 29, 2015, at 6:00 p.m. 

First, the letter states that a single representative would speak for Appellants, Charles Osborne, Rita Palmer, and Maria Harris.  

I want to point out that there were a total of sixteen citizens who filed the appeal to City Council on November 7, 2014. Each should be allowed an opportunity to speak.

Second, the letter on its face appears to define the rules and procedures for the hearing. 

Perhaps someone should go back and read Ordinance 1177.11 which states in part “…Council shall establish appropriate rules and procedures to hear and decide such appeals.”

The rules and procedures for an appeal hearing, per Ordinance 1177.11, are to be set by Council, not an individual behind closed doors who then instructs the Clerk of Council on what to say in her letter.
The rules and procedures must apply equally to all citizens in appeals to City Council. To establish the rules and procedures, Council must discuss openly in committee after the topic is placed on the Council agenda for discussion. Voting for the agreed upon rules and procedures should take place in a public meeting as in any other action of Council and approval acknowledged by a majority vote of Council.

Council is a public body and its actions are conducted in public for the benefit of the public to allow input from its citizens. In this manner, the requirement of Ordinance 1177.11 where it states “Council shall establish…” will be met.
Last, the letter states the appeal will be held at a Special Council meeting. 

North Canton City Council conducts Committee meetings (generally referred to as Council of the Whole) to discuss proposed legislation. Council holds legislative meetings (referred to as Council meetings) to vote on legislation. Council holds Public Hearings to satisfy lawful requirements and invite public input on a particular issue. Council holds Special Council meetings to vote on special legislation. 
An appeal hearing should be titled as such in order to comply with the purpose of the meeting and be in compliance with Ordinance 1177.11.
With the exception of the date and time of the appeal hearing stated in the letter from the Clerk of Council, nothing else stated in the letter complies with the ruling handed down by Stark County Court of Common Pleas Judge Kristin Farmer or North Canton Ordinance 1177.11.
Failure to comply with the order of the Stark County Court of Common Pleas as well as North Canton Ordinance 1177.11 could place North Canton and City Council in contempt of court.

This Council should do what Judge Farmer has ordered and what North Canton law requires to avoid such a precarious position. Anything short of those actions could lead to a motion to hold North Canton City Council in contempt of court.

Thank you, 

Chuck Osborne and
Rita Palmer (Osborne)
City of North Canton