Monday, April 27, 2015

Actions by North Canton City Council to Amend Zoning Code Harm Citizens and Violate Legislative Due Process!

Prepared Comments Made to
April 27, 2015

             On October 10, 2014, City residents impacted by the unbridled expansion of the Hoover District South Parking Lot presented to North Canton City Council a request for an appeal hearing
per Chapter 1177.11 of the City’s Zoning Code. Chapter 1177.11 states: 

Any person who is adversely affected by a decision made by the Planning Commission according to the procedures set forth in this Chapter may appeal such decision to Council within 30 days of the Planning Commission's decision.   

            The appeal was in response to the approval of a “Conditional Use” permit by the City’s Planning Commission, on October 8, 2014, allowing expansion of the Hoover District Parking Lot into an area zoned residential (R-2F).  

            Over the last six months, numerous pieces of legislation have been enacted by Council, all detrimental to the citizens they have sworn to represent and in derogation of Council’s obligation to give residents an appeal hearing. The first, an emergency resolution, No. 94-2014, passed December 1, 2014, redirected the appeal to the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals. The resolution was signed by Mayor Held. 

            This was followed with yet another emergency resolution, No. 1-2015, on January 12, 2015, rescinding the previously passed emergency resolution. The resolution was signed by Mayor Held. 

In the minutes of that January 12, 2015, meeting, the Chairman of the Community & Economic Development Committee, Marcia Kiesling made a motion for passage of the second emergency resolution stating, “We have decided to bring it back to us and listen to it ourselves.” 

That statement by Mrs. Kiesling proved to be a misrepresentation.  

On February 23, 2015, City Council voted on yet another resolution, No. 2-2015, to deny residents an appeal hearing before City Council. This resolution, unlike the first two emergency resolutions, was passed with three readings with a second reading on March 9, 2015, and a third and final reading on March 23, 2015. Mayor Held again signed the legislation.  

Concurrently, on March 9, 2015, City Council introduced two ordinances, No. 16-2015 & No. 17-2015, to strip away entirely the appeal process from the City’s Zoning Code.  

One thing that has been quite apparent from the time this legislation was introduced is that City Council was in flagrant violation of Chapter 1181 of the North Canton Zoning Code which describes in detail the legislative process that must be followed to amend the City’s Zoning Code.  

Citizens in attendance at Council meetings have been aghast at the temerity of this Council, to ignore the legislative due process, as Ordinances No. 16-2015 & No. 17-2015, were voted on. A first reading for a vote was on March 9, a second reading on March 23, and a third reading on April 13, 2015.
Ordinance No. 17-2015 was tabled at Council’s last meeting on April 13 but it is back on the agenda tonight for a third and final reading.  

All actions taken thus far on these two pieces of legislation are meaningless. The rush to pass these two pieces of legislation will have to begin anew to comply with Chapter 1181 of the City’s Zoning Code. 

Apparently, Councilmember Kiesling agrees as Mrs. Kiesling revealed to a citizen after Council’s meeting on the 13th that she has questioned privately the legislative path taken by Council to amend the City’s Zoning Code.  Mrs. Kiesling, I and others wholeheartedly agree with you. My only question is why did you not voice your concerns publicly on the floor of Council?   

In legal parlance, Ordinance No. 16-2015 & 17, 2015, are “void ab initio.” Illegal from the beginning!  

Amending any zoning code is a long drawn-out process that is clearly defined by the code itself. How did this go so wrong? From a legal perspective, this is basic municipal law. 

North Canton City Council has been utterly blind to the many missteps of Law Director Tim Fox. Amending the City’s Zoning Code in violation of well-established law is not a misstep.  

Leading City Council into the passage of illegal legislation is misfeasance.  

Whether Law Director Fox pleads ignorance of Chapter 1181 of the City’s Zoning Code or whether this is another adversarial action he has undertaken against the citizens of North Canton, it is abundantly clear that Law Director Tim Fox should be asked to step down as the City’s Law Director or barring that, City Council should remove him from office. 

The citizens of North Canton can no longer endure repeated missteps and now orchestrated illegal legislation at the hands of a City official who erroneously guides City Council into being a party to his egregious illegal actions. 

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne, Resident
City of North Canton