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Falls implementing civil dispute program

10/16/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

The City of Cuyahoga Falls is providing the community with a pathway to a resolution between two parties who  may be in the midst of an ongoing disagreement.

At the Oct. 13 regular meeting, Council learned of a new, collaborative effort — the Neighborhood Mediation Program (NMP) — among the Falls, Stow, Tallmadge and The University of Akron (UA) School of Law.

Mayor Don Walters said the three cities are joining UA in an endeavor to provide citizens in their communities with an avenue to resolve conflict.

He said the NMP will provide mediation in the Falls for nonlegal matters as a mechanism to reach a peaceful resolution with a neighbor.

City Law Director Russ Balthis said volunteer law students, who completed a class on alternative dispute resolution, will serve as a third party to facilitate a meeting in a conference room in the city’s Natatorium with the feuding individuals.

The mediators will assist the parties in understanding the other person’s position on the matter at hand, he said.

It is hoped the parties reach an agreement the mediator can put in writing for them, Balthis said.

Matters appropriate for mediation through the NMP include disagreements over tree branches; use of easements; snowplowing; on-street parking; animals; noise complaints; disposal of rubbish; basic watercourse issues; and other disputes that affect the health, safety and welfare of the neighborhood, as highlighted in a brochure about to be circulated in the community on the new program.

Balthis said parties will be referred to the NMP by a member of Council or the city’s police, law or zoning departments when made aware of a complaint appropriate for mediation.

The law director then will coordinate a date and time for mediation with the law students at no cost to the city or the Falls residents involved in the dispute.

Council President Mary Ellen Pyke (R-Ward 2) said she is hopeful the NMP will help neighbors “find a solution to an ongoing problem that everyone can be happy with.”

Councilman Paul Colavecchio (D-Ward 5) said disputing parties have “nothing to lose to try it and everything to gain.”

He and fellow members of Council spoke in favor of the NMP.

“It really is going to be a great program,” Walters said.

For more information on the NMP, contact the city law department at 330-971-8190 or lawdepartment@cityofcf.com.

Also at the meeting, Council approved legislation that allows the city to purchase uninhabitable and vacated homes at 1911 Dwight St. and 138 Graham Road.

The legislation states these two homes took on significant water during a rain event in May and now are beyond repair and have mold issues.

The approved legislation states the city will accept grant funding offered through the Summit County Land Bank so the two properties can be purchased for what still is owed on them, then razed and used for water retention in the city.

Council also heard the first reading of an ordinance that would change a parcel of land on Graham Road — the future site of Menards, a national home improvement store — from MU-4 (Suburban Corridor) to C-1 (Commercial) and approximately 9 acres of land on site from R-5 (Mixed Residential) to C-1.

In addition, Council introduced legislation for the demolition of a blighted home and garage at 508 Chart Road.

Council will hold regular committee meetings Oct. 20 and a regular meeting Oct. 27, both beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Natatorium, 2345 Fourth St.

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