After last week's work session of Avon City Council, where mayor Jim Smith appeared to have eased the minds of Nagel Interchange-area landowners by of their properties be used to fund the city's share of the project, it looked like the interchange project would take this next step forward without more angst and drama.
So much for that.
In a heated exchange, owner Brian McKeown said language in an ordinance covering the city's agreement with Richard E. Jacobs Group over paying for the interchange appeared to bring assessments back into the mix.
McBride went to the podium as members were taking up a vote to suspend the rules requiring three readings of the ordinance before voting, allowing them to vote on the ordinance immediately.
When members said he was speaking out of order, McKeown said he didn't care. That's when the shouting began.
His concern was over language in the ordinance titles that referred to "collection of special assessments."
It was a fear of betrayal, McKeown said. After last week's announcement by the mayor, he thought the matter was settled. Then, to see the word "assessments" in an ordinance and to see council members consider voting on it on an emergency basis without three readings, it led to mistrust.
"I get the impression we're being slapped in the face," he said, during later public comments explaining his position. "Everything I've worked 27 years for is on the line."
Ward 2 Councilman Dennis McBride tore into McKeown when McKeown said he had not read the ordinances, but was going by the titles in the agenda. The ordinances are posted on the city website along with the agendas, McBride pointed out.
"Nothing is wrong with the wording," McBride said. "Don't just read the title and not the ordinance."
said the assessments refer to a voluntary assessment the Jacobs Group has agreed to for their land in the interchange area and nothing else.
"There cannot be an assessment of anyone else's land without a ruling of necessity," he said. That, he said, was not in any ordinance.
said that, once the financing is passed and the initial money goes to the Ohio Department of Transportation, the project has officially begun and there can be no assessments tied to paying for the project.
"And, if someone tried it beforehand, I'd veto it," he said. The money is expected to go to ODOT by the end of July.
Smith said he understood concerns over the language, because it worried him, too, before talking it over with Gasior.
McKeown said that, if the language was confusing to city officials, it should have been a signal that ordinary citizens would be worried by it.
Towards the end of the meeting, Coucil president Craig Witherspoon apologized for the situation, and promised it would not happen again.
"Yelling gets nothing accomplished," he said.
Ward 1 Councilman Bryan Jensen said the implication that the city was being underhanded was "disappointing."
McBride said what angered him was a lack of respect.
"The rules are there for a purpose," he said. "When people are adversarial like that, they make things harder. There are others who are upset, or concerned, but reached out and made their concerns known, and didn't go over the line."
After the meeting, McKeown was ready to move on.
"As long as the city keeps to the agreement and doesn't use assessments, I'm good," McKeown said.