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Richfield trustees discuss mowing complaint

7/24/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Jeff Gorman

A Southern Road resident called out a Richfield Township official at the July 17 Board of Trustees meeting for failing to cut the grass on a property she owns.

Zoning Inspector Laurie Pinney owns the property, and Ted Weil said his complaints to the township office about the overgrown front yard have been “falling on deaf ears.”

Trustee President Janet Jankura said she was aware of Pinney’s intentions to restore the property within a reasonable period of time.

Weil replied the trustees should be accountable as well.

“It’s an eyesore. That’s not how you come into a neighborhood. I think you’re abusing your position here,” he told Pinney.

Pinney said she is familiar with complaints about unmowed lawns.

“Because I’m the zoning inspector, I’ve gotten these calls long before I owned this,” she said. “The township doesn’t have any requirement regarding cutting grass, so I’m not violating township law.

“No one is more of a rule follower than me,” Pinney added. “If I find a Summit County law, I will follow it.”

Pinney explained that keeping the lawn in a “meadow situation” is good for the environment and prevents stormwater runoff. She also referenced a letter to the editor in that day’s West Side Leader regarding the preservation of pollinator habitat. [“ODOT encouraged to help restore pollinator habitat” in the July 17, 2014, issue can be viewed at www.akron.com.]

After Weil left the meeting, Pinney looked on her computer and found there was a Summit County ordinance that requires improved properties to have their front lawns mowed.

“If that is the case, then I strongly suggest we adopt language into our zoning code, so we have a procedure for having it done,” she said. “I apologize that this has been an awkward situation.”

Pinney told Jankura she would start the process of working on a zoning code amendment to reflect the county ordinance.

In other business:

  • Heather Trnka, the Safe Kids Summit County coalition coordinator, spoke to the trustees about August being Summit Kids Month. The fifth annual Summit for Kids will take place at the John S. Knight Center Aug. 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. [See related story in the July 17, 2014, issue or visit the archives at www.akron.com.]

After that, the coalition will focus on a different topic each week: Kindergarten Readiness (Aug. 3-9), Child Wellness (Aug. 10-16), Family (Aug. 17-23) and Child Safety (Aug. 24-30).

  • Trustee Jeff Shupe told audience members that if they wanted to speak, they could use the podium at the end of the meeting. He also recommended that groups that wish to express opinions should use a spokesperson.

“Some topics that draw emotions have been drawn out and taken over the meeting,” Shupe said. “This has taken us away from our job.”

While Shupe said this policy would make meetings “quicker and more efficient,” Summit County Councilman Nick Kostandaras (D-District 1) said the people’s comments should not be confined to the end of the meeting.

  • Trustees approved a plan to renovate Harter, Stubbins and Hecker roads at a cost of $26,112.
  • In her quarterly fiscal report, Pinney stated the township can usually spend between $75,000 and $100,000 per year on a major road project or equipment purchase.

This year, the township is trying to get a grant to improve Hawkins Road. The township would spend $82,000, or 10 percent of the project, if the grant comes through for the other 90 percent, according to Township Administrator Mindy Remec.

“It’s a big project, so I don’t know where our chances stand,” she said.

Trustee Bob Luther said township road crews are performing some repairs on Hawkins Road.

“A lot of people are honking their horns to say thanks for that project,” he said.

Luther also reported the repaving of the Rising Valley Park parking lot is finished and “looks really nice.”

The cost was $30,000, which came from the Hershel Hunt capital improvement fund, according to township officials.

  • The trustees decided not to demolish a home on Medina Line Road that was the subject of an unsafe-building order. Instead, the trustees decided to keep the issue on their agenda each month to monitor the owner’s progress in bringing the property in line with county standards.
  • Jankura announced township resident Kelly Clark was selected as the seventh member of the Richfield Joint Recreation District, which meets Mondays and Wednesdays at 7:30 at Town Hall. The meetings are open to the public.
  • The trustees discussed the proposed annexation of land in the Briarwood area from Richfield Township to Richfield Village.

Jankura said the township government needed to decide what it would ask for in exchange for the annexation. Luther and Shupe suggested the township ask for a freeze on increases to the township’s police and fire contracts.

  • Shupe said township officials will meet with a representative from the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding a possible loan for a new administration building.

“We don’t qualify for a grant because we don’t have low to moderate income areas,” Shupe explained.

  • Larry Fulton, of the Summit County Engineer’s Office, said his office is following up on the visibility issues at the corner of Dewey and Columbia roads.

The next Richfield trustees’ meeting is scheduled for Aug. 7 at 10 a.m. at the township offices, located behind the fire station on West Streetsboro Road.

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