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