Thursday, September 8, 2011


UPDATE (VIDEO #4)  09/08 AT 7:00 PM - Each side made their respective pitches to the North Canton Planning Commission.  As we now know, the citizens were heard and the commission (3 to 2) denied the Giant Eagle/Get Go/McKinley Development quest to get a conditional zoning permit to build a new gas station within the Washington Square shopping complex.

The SCPR was at the meeting last night at North Canton City Hall and presents the core of each sides arguments via videotape.

The last video first presents the anti-GetGo winning argument: that of a band of citizen activists that proved that motivated citizens can be effective to achieve their hearts desires. At the back end of the video is the pro-GetGo argument.

UPDATED (VIDEO #2):  09/08 AT 10:45 AM - Dennis Flectner (as chairman of the North Canton City Planning Commission - an engineer himself and a member of the Canton Joint Engineering Council [treasurer]) answers the SCPR's question as to whether or not his side's position (favoring granting of the conditional use permit) failure to carry the day with the entire five member commissioner was a disappointment to him.

Flectner cites North Canton Ordinance 1145 as the reason he voted to grant the permit.  1145 reads as follows:


     A conditional use, and uses accessory to such conditional use, shall be permitted in a district only when specified as a conditional use in such district, and only if such use conforms to the following general criteria, which are in addition to specific conditions, standards and regulations set forth in Sections 1145.03 through 1145.06.  The Planning Commission shall review the particular facts and circumstances of each proposed use in terms of the following criteria and shall find adequate evidence that the use as proposed:

     (a)     Will be designed, constructed, operated and maintained so as to be harmonious and appropriate in appearance with the existing or intended character of the general vicinity, and that such use will not essentially change the character of the same area;

     (b)     Will not be detrimental to property values in the immediate vicinity.

     (c)     Will not restrict or adversely affect the existing use of the adjacent property owners.

     (d)     Will be designed and constructed so that all access drives, access points to public streets, driveways, parking and service areas shall be in compliance with the regulations set forth in Chapter 1153.

     (e)     Will meet the requirements of EPA for stormwater runoff, when applicable.

     (f)     Will be properly landscaped in accordance with Chapter 1155.

     (g)     The establishment, maintenance or operation of the conditional use will not be detrimental to or endanger the public health, safety or general welfare;

     (h)     The hours of operation of the proposed use are similar to a use permitted in the district.

     (i)     The establishment of the conditional use in the proposed location will not impede the normal and orderly development and improvement of the surrounding property for uses permitted in the district;

     (j)     Adequate utilities, access roads, drainage and/or necessary facilities have been or are being provided;

     (k)     Adequate measures have been or will be taken to provide ingress and egress designed to minimize traffic congestion on the surrounding public streets;

     (l)     The establishment of the conditional use should not be detrimental to the economic welfare of the community by creating excessive additional requirements at public cost for public facilities such as police, fire and schools;

     (m)     There is minimal potential for future hardship on the conditional use that could result from the proposed use being surrounded by uses permitted by right that may be incompatible.

UPDATED (VIDEO #1):  09/08 AT 10:00 AM - Washington Square resident Jim Smith (one of several spokespersons for the residents) speaks with the SCPR and Dottie McGrew of Our Town - a local North Canton weekly newspaper published by Jim Dansizen).

UPDATED:  09/08 AT 08:30 AM

Last night the North Canton City Planning Commission (NCCPC) voted to deny McKinley Development Company (best known in Stark County by its managing partners Robert J. DeHoff and William J. Lemmon) a "conditional use permit" to place a GetGo gasoline isle on the Giant Eagle site located at Washington Square at the intersection of East Maple and Market Avenue, North in North Canton.

North Cantonian who is celebrating today is former North Canton Councilman Chuck Osborne (currently running for council-at-large).

While Osborne does not live in close proximity to Washington Square, he weighed in anyway at last nights NCCPC meeting as he is the foremost civic activists in all of North Canton and has an opinion about everything North Canton government.  The Report's take on Osborne is that he is particularly zealous in scrutinizing anything Lemmon and DeHoff connected.

Another person that the SCPR would guess might be delighted by the NCCPC action is former North Canton Council President Daryl Revoldt.

Now a Kasich administration Department of Economic Development employee, Revoldt has painstakingly worked to maintain and upgrade the aesthetics of North Canton.  A major premise of his economic development ideas for local government entities, is first and foremost, to have an attractive physical presence.  For instance, when North Canton was redoing portions of Main Street and the street was torn up, he would jokingly refer to North Canton's main drag as resembling "downtown Mogadishu."  One of his major annoyances with former Chief Administrator E.J. Wise was his belief that Wise was not seeing to it that Main Street was in a constant and consistent mode of being kept neat looking.

There a number of what ifs from last night's meeting.

What if NCCPC member Geib had abstained as he indicated that he was considering?  A tie vote?  The consequences?

What if member Morrow had gotten a second to his motion to narrow the operation hours of the proposed GetGo?  Would he have voted for the conditional use?

But neither of those "what ifs" occurred and now McKinley Development (McKinley) and its client Giant Eagle have a decision to make.

"To appeal or to not appeal," (to the full North Canton City Council) that is the question.

While Attorney Jordan Berns of Berns Ockner & Greenberger LLC (representing the GetGo interest) refused to say whether or not his side would appeal, the SCPR thinks GetGo/Giant Eagle/McKinley Development has nothing to lose.

There is not animosity between nearby residents and Giant Eagle according to lead neighborhood spokesman Jim Smith.  In fact, a number of speakers underscored that point in presentations to the NCCPC.  However, there was a clear rumble equivalent to a gasp when McKinley representative Beth Boda referred to Giant Eagle's abandonment of its store (but refused - according to Plain Township Trustee Louis Giavasis - to allow a successor grocery store into the nearby Plain Township's Oakwood Square).

So if the residents are in love with Giant Eagle and have isolated the contention to the gasoline isle, why wouldn't there be an appeal?

Oh yes, if McKinley et al  fight further and win, one would think that there might well be some spill over animosity towards Giant Eagle and such would have to be a concern to the grocery behemoth (at least in northeast Ohio) because the margin of profit in the grocery business is said to be somewhere in the range of one (1%) percent and Giant Eagle would have to be worried that a zoning issue victory affected its volume of business from immediate vicinity customers.

On the other hand, the passage of time is a healing agent and any consequence of winning would fastly evaporate when the reality set in and perhaps even the actual operation of the facility proved not to be the problem that the neighborhood residents anticipated, no?

Such is what the SCPR conjectures is the framework of the discussion within the GetGo/Giant Eagle/McKinley circles today.

North Canton Law Director Hans Nilges tells the SCPR that North Canton is in unchartered waters as far as NCCPC appeals are concerned and that it will be up to him to define for city council the "appropriate rules and procedures to hear and decide such appeals."

One of the primary determinations and likely a key in McKinley et al appealing is whether a Council override of the NCCPC decision would take a simple majority or require an unanimous vote.

There is precedent in Ohio local government that for an appointed authority to be overridden, there must be a unanimous vote by the appointing authority.

However, in this case, it is not North Canton City Council who appoints; it is the mayor (in this case, David Held), who by the way, was in the audience at last night's meeting.

So the appointing authority differentiation could well be a basis for Nilges to decide that "a simple majority" of council will be enough.

While Mayor Held would not weigh-in on last night's vote, one indicator of how he feels about the vote is whether or not reappoints Jerry Geib (assuming Geib would like to remain) to the the planning commissioner (Geib's term is set to expire on 12/31/2011).

The SCPR's overall take on the GetGo condition use question is that last night's NCCPC vote is the first round in a fight that is very likely to continue.

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