Monday, June 21, 2021

Courts and Justice

Owner of Roundwood Manor in Hunting Valley gets another chance to fight for plan to turn historic mansion into condos
Posted Jun 07, 2021


The owner of Roundwood Manor, seen here in a 2016 file photo, gets another chance in court to fight a decision by the village of Hunting Valley to not allow her to transform the historic mansion into condominiums.

By Eric Heisig,

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A state appeals court is giving the owner of a century-old mansion in Hunting Valley with ties to the Van Sweringen brothers another chance to argue that the well-to-do east side suburb improperly applied its zoning code to a years-old proposal to turn her mansion into condominiums.
The 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that historic Roundwood Manor owner Sylvia Korey is entitled to a hearing to present evidence in her lawsuit fight the village’s planning commission’s decision to deny a permit to reconfigure the 10-bedroom, 55,000 square foot mansion.

Korey sought permission from the village four years ago to turn the mansion in six luxury condos, seeking a variance from village code requiring at least 5 acres per home. The village’s planning and zoning commission denied her request in 2018, after a consultant said the renovations would increase traffic.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge David Matia upheld the commission’s decision in March 2020, finding that the condos “would substantially harm neighboring properties because it would create more noise, traffic, and light in the Village.” The 8th District’s ruling said Matia did not err when making that finding.

However, Korey challenged the constitutionality of the village’s 5-acre requirement as it pertained to her project. Matia struck that claim down without hearing evidence at a hearing. The appeals court ruled that the judge should not have done that and ordered him to hold a hearing, where Korey can provide evidence that said the zoning code violated her rights in this instance.

That new hearing means she has another shot to prove that Hunting Valley’s planning and zoning commission was wrong to withhold approval. Her attorney, Anthony Coyne, said in an interview that “Mrs. Korey is going to get, for the first time in a court of law, her opportunity to explain how she’s been treated.
“And we’re going to get to have the village explain this type of very restrictive and exclusionary lot-size zoning code, which really is not going to be adversely affected if it was applied fairly,” Coyne said.
Hunting Valley Law Director Stephen Byron said he has read the opinion and will work with the village to determine its next steps. He said he was pleased the appeals court upheld the commission’s decision.
Byron, who has served as Hunting Valley’s law director since 1998, said he is not aware of the village ever granting a variance from its 5-acre minimum lot size for a single home.

Architect Philip Small designed Roundwood Manor for Oris and Mantis Van Sweringen in the mid-1920s as their home and the nerve center of a real estate and railroad empire, which collapsed during the Depression. The brothers are perhaps best known today as the industrialists who built Shaker Heights and Terminal Tower in downtown Cleveland.

Subsequent Roundwood Manor owner Vernon Stouffer, president of the Stouffer Corp. and a former owner of the Indians, reduced the house by 35,000 square feet to its present size. Korey has owned the house since 1988 and tried unsuccessfully to sell beginning in 2002. The 8th District opinion said in that time Korey, who still lives there, has only received one oral offer to buy the house, and that would involve demolishing it.

The manor is on the National Register of Historic Places. Korey and preservation groups do not want to see it demolished, and Korey believes that they would quickly sell to people who want to downsize from larger homes. The Daisy Hill Neighborhood Association, which governs the subdivision and takes its name from a 430-acre farm that surrounded Roundwood Manor, opposes the plans.

Monday, May 24, 2021


 Looking back ~ Almost 50 years ago, an article appeared about Roundwood Manor in the July 1972 issue of AD. The Drawing Room ~ “This room with a carved arch, and beams with corbels, represents a form of European architecture of quality rarely seen in the United States.”

Friday, January 15, 2021


 “Time has made legendary characters of the Van Sweringen brothers all across the land. The legend is strongest in the city in which they lived, fought, and accomplished. They did more, physically, for Cleveland than anyone else ever has.”

THE YEARS WERE GOOD, Louis B. Seltzer, 1956 — Editor of the Cleveland Press 1928 - 1966