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