Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Hunting Valley P & Z had the power to grant the Variance to convert the Manor into condominiums. The evidence relied upon by the P & Z Committee is not reliable, probative and substantial.

Cleveland Restoration Society
Sylvia Korey, the owner of Roundwood Manor, filed a civil lawsuit against the village after the Planning and Zoning Commission denied an application to convert her mansion into six luxury condos.
The 55,000-square-foot home at 3450 Roundwood Road, located within the Daisy Hill enclave and built in the 1920s by Oris and Mantis Van Sweingen, is a historic structure that should be preserved, Ms. Korey said. Because the cost of upkeep and maintenance for the property has become excessively expensive, she developed a plan to divide the interior of the house into individual, for-sale condos.
For the past three and a half years, she has been planning and presenting the project to the village, and last month, the planning commission denied her application for a special use permit which would have allowed for the condo conversion.
The only appeal process for the application is to the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, and on May 2, Ms. Korey and her lawyers filed the suit.
“I remained hopeful until the very end when we were turned down by the Planning and Zoning Commission,” Ms. Korey said on Tuesday. “I was very disappointed with this outcome. Moving forward with legal action was a difficult decision, but I remain committed to saving this house. There didn’t appear to be any other alternative.”
Commission members said the biggest issue for them was departing from the current village zoning that requires a minimum of 5 acres of land for each residence. Ms. Korey’s property is 7.69 acres.
Ms. Korey’s attorneys, Tony Coyne and Bruce Rinker of the Cleveland law firm Mansour Gavin, LPA, said the basis of the civil suit is that they believe the village is not interpreting the village ordinances correctly and that the project should be allowed.
“All they keep talking about is that you can only have one house on one 5-acre lot even though the structure is not expanding and has been there since the founding of not only Daisy Hill but Hunting Valley,” Mr. Coyne said.
Mr. Rinker added that there is also recognition within the zoning code that calls for historic preservation “as a valid and appropriate public purpose and this certainly would fit into that category.”
“The historic preservation part of this case is huge in our opinion,” Mr. Coyne said. “It’s a historic structure. It meets the criteria to be on both the state registry (for historic places), which it is on, and also the national registry.
“We believe that is a huge public interest issue that they should follow their code on protecting historic properties. And we believe if they’re not willing to be reasonable and use common sense, we will ask a court to review their ordinances and their exclusionary zoning policies and see if they’re lawful.”
Village Law Director Stephon Byron said the village has yet to be legally served with the complaint, but once that happens, Hunting Valley will have 28 days to submit a response.
“I will be consulting with the village. We will probably have an executive session to discuss with the mayor and council what the allegations in the complaint are and what the appropriate responses will be,” he said.
Also a part of the lawsuit is the request for the village to return $20,000 to Ms. Korey “for the unlawful and unjustifiable fee application charges.”
According to Mr. Coyne and Mr. Rinker, the village charged Ms. Korey upwards of $20,000 in fees that were used to pay for the village’s planner, lawyer and engineering professional fees related to the proposal.
In essence, her attorneys said, Ms. Korey was forced to pay for the village to defend against her and she should get that money back.
Mr. Byron said that it is a common provision in many communities to have an applicant pay for the services required when requesting relief that deviates from the zoning code. The professionals in this instance, he said, were tasked with evaluating the relationship between the request and the village’s code and the impacts it would have on neighboring properties.
“The village is entitled to have professional assistance in evaluating the request,” Mr. Byron said. “In order to keep the costs low (for the village), the users of the service pay for the service.”
He said one reason costs have been higher than average in her case is because the initial request for the condo conversion project was through a conditional use permit. That was then changed to a special use permit.
“So essentially, she has put the village through two procedures to get to this point and it has involved the time and energy of village professionals,” Mr. Byron said.
From the Chagrin Valley Times

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