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Commentary from 2013


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Another congrtulatory note
published November 4, 2013

Great news on the installation of the windmill. You guys certainly should be commended for your determination. Congratulations!
A. S.
Auburn Township

Congratulations from a neighbor
Published November 8, 2013

I found your website by accident today while looking for some other things, but just wanted to say that I'm glad you stuck with the fight for the wind turbine and won.

We've followed the story in the newspapers about your struggle with our trustees and BZA and thought it ridiculous considering the ice rink and high school structures. Also have watched the struggles that the people who have the winery in Auburn have had getting 'permission' to do things on their property.

We've been on Stafford Rd. Since 1988 - plant and nature people who are trying to figure out how we can afford to keep and stay on our 28 acre property for the next 20 years. Green energy and agricultural use are probably our best options. I'm curious about the solar panels that you use and wonder if we could see them sometime.

Good luck on the legal issues - I'm sure we'll be reading about at least one side of the story.

Name withheld by editor


Why the Need To Video Public Meetings
Published October 27, 2013

In the October 17, 2013, Chagrin Valley Times, Letters to the Editor, Auburn resident Matthew F. Blowers III questions the intentions of citizens who attend each Auburn public meeting to video the proceedings. Diane and I video public meetings at many county locations, including Auburn Township, in order to improve accountability and transparency. Accountability means that public officials - elected and un-elected - have an obligation to explain their decisions and actions to the citizens. When we talk about transparency in government, we mean that citizens must be able to "see through" its workings, to know exactly what goes on when public officials transact public business.

The full and unedited meetings are on our website, AuburnTownship.org. A video is a lasting and unchangeable record of proceedings. The only reason for government officials to cry foul about the presence of video is if they are hiding something from the taxpayers. If government officials are doing their job in a manner that complies with the Ohio Revised Code they certainly have nothing to fear from a video recording.

If Mr. Blowers had examined the website he is criticizing he would have discovered the contact page he alleges is missing. Interestingly, many Auburn township residents have used that page to ask questions about township regulations and Ohio Revised Code. In addition, residents have submitted guest commentaries. To date Mr. Blowers is not one of those individuals who have contacted us. Further, Mr. Blowers has not attended a single trustee meeting in the past four years.

It appears that Mr. Blowers has been persuaded to write an endorsement about topics with which he has little or no familiarity. In the future he would be well advised to attend public meetings and to learn as much as he can about township business before he attempts another editorial at election time.
Thomas Jones
Auburn


Editor's Note.
Matthew Blowers, an Auburn Township employee who gets paid taxpayer money to clean and “show” Adam Hall to prospective renters ($300+ for each cleaning, additional moneys for “showing”) wrote a second letter criticizing the website of
www.auburntownship.org in The Spirit of Bainbridge. He would like readers to think he is an objective Auburn Township resident, but the truth is that he also is a writer for The Spirit of Bainbridge.

Blowers puts his editor in the unenviable position of permitting him to take jabs at innocent people for no other reason than that his handlers, the incumbent Auburn Trustees Troyan and Eberly, have more fear of the freedom of the press than they do of the three well-qualified candidates who are challenging them for re-election.

When Spirit editor Anne Bauswein was informed of the conflict of interest of letting a township employee write a letter critical of freedom of the press, she became very defensive, claiming that she would stake her life on her journalistic integrity at the same time that she wrote about the struggles she often faces trying to keep Blowers in line. We believe
The Spirit of Bainbridge, editor Bauswein, and Matthew Blowers may be in some very serious trouble.

Geauga County Landowners, Take Heed and Protect the Investment of Your Land
Published October 19, 2013

Farmers are the backbone of America. It takes everything you’ve got to farm and we are fortunate to have some of the best farmers in the country, right here in Geauga County. But I have a warning for farmers and landowners in our county, the “sustainability” and “smart growth” movement that supports Agenda 21 (As documented in the Federal Register) is thriving here, right here in Geauga County.

A local farmer, who farmed his land for more than 60 years decided to retire and offered the land to his family. His family did not choose to continue to farm and so the land was put up for sale. When the farmer petitioned Auburn Township for a minor zoning variance so that the land could be sold and developed, his request was denied. And of course, he could not sell his land for the full value.

Subsequently and not so coincidentally, the land was purchased by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy (at a greatly reduced value), and the zoning issue became irrelevant.
Auburn Township public officials denied ever having a word of conversation with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy regarding the Cathen property. And I don't believe them for one minute.

It begs the question, is collusion an ugly word? I think so.

Geauga County landowners should take heed and protect the investment of their land, long before they consider selling. I would recommend contacting a real estate/property attorney and making sure your land has all of the zoning requirements necessary to compete on the open market.

But mostly, I think that naming a park after a farmer does not compensate for the taking of his land.

Judy K. Zamlen-Spotts

AUBURN TOWNSHIP NOISE ORDINANCE ZC2013-01: A CASE OF SPOT ZONING/RETRIBUTION?
Published September 21, 2013

The Auburn Township Zoning Commission received a review of Noise Ordinance ZC2013-01 on July 10, 2013, some three weeks before its public hearing of July 23. The Auburn Township Board of Trustees held public hearing on the same noise ordinance at 7:15 PM on September 16, immediately preceding the regular Trustee meeting.

While there were several comments from the public, it is clear that a number of residents had no idea about the purposes of the proposed noise ordinance, although a couple of the comments/questions focused in correctly on one sentence from David Dietrich, Geauga County Planning Director, in his letter of July 10, 2013. Dietrich's statement referenced “noise regulations adopted by the board of trustees pursuant to R.C. 505.172.”

Examination of R.C. 505.17 reveals the following information:
“(B) Except as otherwise provided in this section and section 505.17 of the Revised Code, a board of township trustees may adopt regulations and orders that are necessary to control noise within the unincorporated territory of the township that is generated at any premises to which a D permit has been issued by the division of liquor control or that is generated within any areas zoned for residential use.”

and

“(F) Any person allegedly aggrieved by another person's violation of a regulation or order adopted under division (B) of this section may seek in a civil action a declaratory judgment, an injunction, or other appropriate relief against the other person committing the act or practice that violates that regulation or order. A board of township trustees that adopts a regulation or order under division (B) of this section may seek in a civil action an injunction against any person that commits an act or practice that violates that regulation or order.” [Underlining added for emphasis]

and

“(G) If any law enforcement officer with jurisdiction in a township
that has adopted a regulation or order under division (B) of this section has reasonable cause to believe that any premises to which a D permit has been issued by the division of liquor control has violated the regulation or order and, as a result of the violation, has caused, is causing, or is about to cause substantial and material harm, the law enforcement officer may issue an order that the premises cease and desist from the activity violating the regulation or order. [Underlining added for emphasis] The cease-and-desist order shall be served personally upon the owner, operator, manager, or other person in charge of the premises immediately after its issuance by the officer. The township thereafter may publicize or otherwise make known to all interested persons that the cease-and-desist order has been issued.

The cease-and-desist order shall specify the particular conduct that is subject to the order and shall inform the person upon whom it is served that the premises will be granted a hearing in the municipal court or county court with jurisdiction over the premises regarding the operation of the order and possible issuance of an injunction or other appropriate relief. The premises shall comply with the cease-and-desist order immediately upon receipt of the order. Upon service of the cease-and-desist order upon the owner, operator, manager, or other person in charge of the premises, the township law director or, if the township does not have a law director, the prosecuting attorney of the county in which the township is located shall file in the municipal court of county court with jurisdiction over the premises a civil action seeking to confirm the cease-and-desist order and seeking an injunction of other appropriate relief against the premises.” …

Although the zoning commission chairman, John Scalia, was asked to explain ZC2013-01, he provided no explanation or clarification regarding Mr. Dietrich's reference to R.C. 505.172. Essentially, what Mr. Dietrich explained was the need for a noise ordinance in place before Auburn Township can punish the holder of a D liquor license for “undue” noise.

In all of Auburn Township, there are only three liquor permits. Only one of those permits is held in a commercially-zoned sector of town, Auburn Corners. Both Sun Valley and The Patio are in residential areas. Only one of the three entities, The Patio, initiated litigation against Auburn Township-- in the spring of 2013—when the trustees turned down the Board of Zoning Appeal's approval of an outdoor patio to the building. The negotiations were completed about May 2013, but when The Patio began construction, the Trustees voiced disapproval because “the ink [was] barely dry.”

Is Zoning Amendment ZC2013-01 an attempt by the Auburn Township Trustees to retaliate against the owners of The Patio? This is not the first time that the Trustees have sought retribution against Auburn Township property-owners when zoning regarding those parcels was not in place. Two of the three legal cases involve agriculture, which is entirely outside of township zoning; the September 2013 periodical,
Ohio Township, features an article emphasizing that township trustees and zoning inspectors are forbidden from regulating agricultural parcels..

Further, if you check Geauga County Common Pleas and 11
th District Court of Appeals records regarding litigation involving Auburn Township Board of Zoning Appeals and Board of Trustees, you will discover that the incumbent trustees have lost the legal process three times out of three episodes. For the record, revised code requires that zoning be in place (for example, a noise ordinance) before any legal action such as an injunction or removal of a D liquor license, can be undertaken.

Can we conclude that the incumbent Trustees and their puppet Zoning Inspector have learned anything of value from spending Geauga County taxpayer funds appropriated to the Geauga County Prosecutor's Office for frivolous litigation against Auburn Township property owners?

Had the questions about RC 505.172 not arisen at the public hearing of September 17, the liquor license enforcement against D liquor-license holders could have neatly appeared out of the blue for the Trustees' plucking.

As it turns out, the public hearing on ZC2013-01 has been continued to October 21, 2013, at 7:15 P.M. Planning Director Dietrich's July 10 letter to the Auburn Township Zoning Commission was copied to chief civil prosecuting attorney, Rebecca Schlag. Nevertheless, per the recommendation of Trustee Eberly, Assistant Prosecutor Mary Brigid “Bridey” Matheney, will have the opportunity to determine “if she is happy with the language” of David Dietrich.

Is Zoning Amendment ZC2013-01 an attempt at retribution?

We believe it is.


From a concerned citizen regarding the heroin epidemic in Geauga County
Published August 11, 2013

At the July 30, 2013 Commissioner meeting, Ralph Spidalieri presented a cross-functional, comprehensive and hard-hitting plan to combat the Geauga County heroin crisis and was met with tremendous support. Commissioner Tracey Jemison was so offended that Ralph had taken this initiative, he stated, “I will not support this proposal after a simple presentation…”

At the August 8, 2013 Commissioners meeting, Deputy Hildebrand told the audience that the Sheriff did not have a plan to address the heroin crisis. The Sheriffs department came up with some ideas only after Tracey Jemison asked them to do so, in response to Spidialeris' proposal. You would think that law enforcement would crawl over barbed-wire and broken glass for a plan that could potentially save the lives of the men and women who serve on the front line in this heroin war. But they did not.

Although Judge Terri Stupica enthusiastically supported Spidalieri’ s plan and committed to serving on his oversight committee on July 30, by August 8th she reversed herself with the statement, “Well.., now, maybe we need to think about everything.” The political posturing was obvious.

When Judge Grendell went to Commissioner Samide and Jemison long before this meeting, and asked for funding to deal with the issue of the heroin crisis, they were rude to him and did not support his request.

All of the sudden, Commissioner Samide and Jemison’s answer to the heroin epidemic is to spend more money, and without a plan of accountability. They directed David Lair, County Administrator to ask county agencies to request what they feel they need to combat the heroin crisis. Lair was delighted by their responses, but how hard is it to ask county supervisors if they want more money? Lair confirmed that not one of these directors previously asked the Commissioners for funds to combat the issue of heroin. And yet, Tracey Jemison and Mary Samide continue to ignore and exclude the one person who stepped forward to address the issue.

Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri developed a powerful and effective plan, a plan that coordinated and supported resources and he was ready to lead this initiative. Spidalieri is a statesman and a consensus builder, not a politician like Samide, Jemison and apparently now, McClelland.

Presently, Geauga County does not have a leader driven, clear, accountable plan of action to combat the heroin crisis. And the blood of those who will die, or kill because of this affliction, is on the hands of these politicians.

Judy K. Zamlen-Spotts

Geauga County officials spend approximately $1,000,000 fighting two farmers and a 10KW windmill
Published June 14, 2013 with permission of Judy K. Zamlen-Spotts

Auburn Township public officials, the Geauga County Prosecutor’s Office (under David Joyce), Judge Dave Fuhry and OTARMA (Ohio Township Association Risk Management Association) have spent what appears to be close to one million dollars in legal fees, extensive trial preparation, numerous courtroom appearances, ancillary hearings, travel, depositions, records requests, brief filings, zoning research, postage, administrative costs, drafting arguments, daily meetings and phone conferences with township officials, etc., in their almost four year virulent struggle, fighting two farmers and a 10Kw windmill.

Susan Plavcan, Auburn Township Fiscal Officer responded, in writing, that there is no cost for this entire litigious fiasco. I have her email response. But if Susan Plavcan believes that…, then she must believe in Santa Claus as well.

The Geauga County Prosecutor’s office responded, in writing, that they have no idea how much time or money has been spent on this four year action against two farmers and a 10Kw windmill, as they have no accountability for office procedures to speak of. I have their email response.

Congressman David Joyce, former Geauga County Prosecutor, who is probably hiding under his desk in Washington, D.C., permitted support of this severe and encompassing litigation against two farmers and a 10Kw windmill. He has refused to respond to requests asking for the dollar amount of taxpayer waste regarding this lawsuit. This lawsuit alone should help citizens make the decision to vote him out of Congress in the next election as he has proven to be a poor steward of the taxpayer's money.

Geauga County has the highest foreclosure rate in our county's history. I have neighbors who have lost their homes here in Chesterland. Senior citizens have told us that they cannot afford to pay for their medication and sometimes food. Our schools are in a state of economic turmoil, buildings are in disrepair and school boards across the county have stated they will be forced to cut staffing, busing, sports, food service and academic programs. Geauga County is in the midst of a heroin epidemic. Sadly, we have homeless veterans in Geauga county. And still, our Geauga County public officials continue to waste precious time and hundreds of thousands of tax dollars, fighting two farmers and a 10Kw windmill.

Judy K. Zamlen-Spotts
Chesterland, Ohio 44026