Lakewood Taxpayers Fight Back Against Lakewood City Councilís $1.8 Million Illegal Ordinances Impact On Our Pocketbooks, The Environment and Our Economy

LAKEWOOD CITY COUNCIL FUNDS $1.8 MILLION PROJECT FOR CLIFF EROSION THAT WILL NOT PREVENT CLIFF COLLAPSE

In the summer of 2016, the City of Lakewood passed Ordinance (25-16) with a cost above $704,000 for the Meridian Condo’s shore cliff "erosion protection." It did this without owner votes and in spite of over 54 owners' signed objections.

These owners brought to City Council top international geotechnical shoreline expert, Dr. R. Young, who during open council, advised that a shoreline cliff project is not indicated at this time and its design will not prevent potential collapse of its cliff (video A, B). City Council ignored him, ignored the condo’s hired engineer (Lewin and Assoc. firm) as well as top experts' correspondence who concurred with Dr. Young (C).

In January 2017, the City of Lakewood passed another Ordinance. This, for over $1,100,000. Ordinance (57-16) for “shoreline/cliff protection” for the Winton Place condo which is next door to the Meridian (the cliff is shared by these adjoining condos).

LAKEWOOD CITY COUNCIL AND MERIDIAN CONDO BOARD ARE IN VIOLATION OF CITY, STATE AND FEDERAL LAWS

Owners who oppose the cliff project hired top Cleveland attorney, Majeed Makhlouf, ex-Law Director of Cuyahoga County, who put condo boards, ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) State officials  and City Council on legal notice that they were violating condo, municipal, state and federal laws and ignoring multiple experts' advice (D). Officials,  Boards and City Council ignored these.

LAKEWOOD CITY COUNCIL AND WINTON PLACE CONDO BOARD ARE IN VIOLATION OF CITY, STATE AND FEDERAL LAWS

They used the same tactics used for the Meridian Condo, ignoring the same legal and engineering experts. Attorney Majeed Makhlouf legal notice to them too, was  ignored.

The Ohio Constitution requires the obtaining of 100% of the Owners' votes in order for the City to activate a bond for such projects, if not, the municipality must pay for same and appropriate the property under eminent domain (D). (1) The ordinances to finance these projects violate the Ohio Constitution, because it forbids the City from lending to a private association. (2)  The Board is not allowed to borrow for the project from the City. ( 4) The condo  declarations and Bylaws require that owners vote for new projects  or improvements  with prices above $25,000. The wall and revetment are "improvements" not maintenance projects, because no prior wall or revetment were there to "maintain." Thus demanding funds for these, without a passing Owners' 100% approval vote, violates Ohio law. (7)  As an alternative, should the Board choose, it must  obtain votes from 65% of the Owners for such projects, the Board can fund the project from its coffers, demand direct assessment to the Owners or borrow from a bank but not from the municipality.

In order to stop the ordinances, owners would have to file a  lawsuit. Litigation is costly, takes years and would devalue the City of Lakewood’s bond rating. Banks won’t lend to owners or to buyers of properties who are in litigation, so property values drop, thus a lawsuit has not been filed to date.

"VOTE" WAS NOT VALID, TACTICS ARE COERCIVE AND ILLEGAL

For a vote to be valid, the vote must be cast on a given date, time and verified by an accounting firm/ witnesses. Since only about 65% of owners signed a flyer, and sent it after several weeks, and many signed because we were told we had no right to vote, that all we had to do was approve the flyer, which is a lie, the City of Lakewood violated the law by approving these as signatures. The law requires 100%  of owners' signatures for such ordinances. We were told that the City of Lakewood's ordinance obligated us to comply, or owners who did not sign would eventually have a lien on their individual condo. We were told that owners who didn’t sign would have to pay all of our obligation within 30 days after the completion of the project. However, owners who signed were given twenty years to pay. I am convinced we would have never gotten even the 65% signatures if these coercive and illegal tactics were not used.

WHY DID THIS TAKE PLACE THEN?

I suspect there are $1.8 Million reasons for the interested parties to push these ordinances. This because, to place drain tiles, shrubbery and trees on the top of the cliffs to protect against erosion and collapse as was recommended by the experts, at a fraction of the cost, is not lucrative.

I suspect that many other shoreline properties will have the same fate, now that the City of Lakewood has perfected this ordinance system. 

CLIFF AND SHORELINE EROSION "PROTECTING STRUCTURES" WOULD CAUSE EROSION ON CLIFTON BEACH, ROCKY RIVER'S BEACH, HUNTINGTON AND EDGEWATER PARKS ETC.

The Great Lakes’ increasing algae bloom, cyanobacteria and pollution are due to population growth, human pollution and global warming. There is one more factor for water pollution: shoreline protecting structures, like the ones imposed in these ordinances. These  armored walls destroy the shore’s ability to naturally cleanse the water, its marshes, destroy wildlife’s nesting and fishing/ hunting habitats. These  "protections" cause erosion on shorelines, marshes and structures up to ten miles from either side (E). Many lawsuits have been filed due to the destruction these cause. (F). Due to the growing number of these "protections," Edgewater Park will disappear in short order, unless its sand is re-seeded, which is costly. To date, the Winton condo has spent over $1.5 Million in replenishing its revetment which in turn is causing erosion of the neighboring cliffs/beaches. This domino effect from more seawalls causes more erosion of cliffs/beaches downstream and a deterioration of water quality.

OTHER STATES HAVE BANNED THESE STRUCTURES

Because of the destructive nature of these armored walls, about a dozen states have banned these, while others have strict permits for shore erosion protection. Ohio’s water sports and fishing are multi-billion dollar industries. ODNR, Ohio officials, City Council and our Mayor boast that they "care for the environment." In this instance,  they prove they don't.  

To ruin our environment and our economy with ill-advised projects like these because experts and laws were ignored, is unconscionable.

Gabriela Kaplan, MD, is a Unit owner who is representing over 54 owners of Winton and Meridian condos, in Lakewood, Ohio.

(A) Video from 32:00 minutes to 38:57 minutes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IVRsemmZpE

(B) News Article:

http://www.cleveland.com/lakewood/index.ssf/2016/05/lakewood_city_council_weighs_e.html

(C ) Engineers: Bob Holt, Orrin Pilkey, Walter Cramton etc

(D) 1. Ohio R.C. 5311.04(A)

     2 . Article VIII, Section 6, of the Ohio Constitution; see, e.g., C.I.V.I.C. Group, v. City of Warren, 2000-Ohio-265, 88 Ohio St. 3d 37, and State ex rel. Ryan v. City Council of Gahanna (1984), 9 Ohio St. 3d 126.

    3.  Article VIII, Sections 13 and 16, respectively, of the Ohio Constitution.

    4 . See Decl., Art. III, Section 9(D). 

    5. See Decl., Art. III, Section 5(G), which requires such written confirmation.

    6.  Bylaw, Art. VIII, Sec. 3. Indeed, the Bylaws clearly distinguish between “capital additions, alterations and improvements,” on the one hand, and “maintenance, repair or replacement” on the other hand.

    7.  See Haller v. Hickory Creek Home Owners Ass'n, 2001-Ohio-4032 (1st Dist.) (“This court has held that a trial court's adoption of definitions for the terms `improvement,’ `alteration,’ and `maintenance’ was reasonable where the trial court had found that `an alteration or improvement involves the change of a thing from one form or state to another, whereas maintenance contemplates the restoration of a thing to its original condition.’ Here, obviously, the "installation of a new water line, where none had existed previously, was an improvement," as that term is ordinarily used. [fn. 11 Behm v. Victory Lane Unit Owners' Assn., Inc. (1999), 133 Ohio App. 3d 484, 728 N.E.2d 1093.]” (Emphasis added.)

    8.  http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/67096.html

(E) www.beachapedia.org

Shoreline Structures - Beachapedia WHY WE SHOULD CARE!

www.beachapedia.org

Seawalls, groins, jetties and other shoreline stabilization structures have had tremendous impacts on our nation's beaches. Shoreline structures are built to alter... 

(F) FOX 6 Law Suits due to shore erosion from these

http://fox6now.com/2013/07/24/neighbors-sue-concordia-over-bluff-damage/

gabriela kaplan

  • G. Kaplan, MD, Lakewood Condo Owner.

Board Certified Neuroradiologist with Fellowship from Johns Hopkins Hospital. Assistant prof. Columbia University, NYC, U of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Retired. Practiced at Lakewood Hospital and University Hospitals. Who's Who in American Medicine. Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Women.

President of lifewatchgroup.org, an international think tank.

www.lifewatchgroup.org

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 4:24 PM, 02.07.2017