May 27, 2020
I wanted to give a quick update on recent discussion relating to the Tall Oaks Conditional Use permit application process. First, let me say that Tom Christopher should be welcomed and viewed as an important partner in our great city, and that his achievements can lead to exciting development and economic gains for Kirtland. Look no further than Tom’s wildly successful endeavor that is the Kirtland Creamery. We also recognize that his Tall Oaks Wedding Barn and other future endeavors can be great assets that our city will be proud of.
As we march down the path of good development, it is also important to understand that the City of Kirtland must abide by federal, state and local statutes. As long as I am Mayor, I cannot put our taxpayers at risk by circumventing processes that could expose us to unnecessary liability. A prime example is a judgment released yesterday by the 11th District Court of Appeals against the Osborne Company, both as a corporation and individually, for the rerouting of the Chagrin River without adhering to the regulatory process. This litigation has been ongoing since 2007 and is still pending today. Within that opinion, it was learned that Kirtland Hills not only faced a potential civil fine by the EPA but was forced to pay to remediate the river. Missteps do not get buried.
One further point of clarification and regarding the “power tower” structure. On May 5th, the day the stream erosion was brought to my attention, I reached out to the city’s First Energy contact and was verbally assured that First Energy was aware of past concern relating to surface erosion and that there was absolutely no immediate threat to area power supply or to structural failure. That same day, May 5th, I asked that the First Energy representative reach out directly to the Tall Oaks construction management team to relay that information. Currently, I am waiting for a written reply from First Energy’s team that articulates the assertion that there is no immediate threat to private property or public safety.
That said, the City looks forward to assisting Mr. Christopher to work through his current permit request with the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and any additional permitting process laid out in our City Ordinances. Mr. Christopher’s concern over his investment is valid and we support his quest to stabilize the stream bank. Our extraordinary Law Director, Matt Lallo, Assistant Law Director, Tom Lobe, and Engineer, Doug Courtney, are at the ready to assist in any way they legally can. The City Administration, Council and great Planning & Zoning Board are also on board with the progress of this project.
I am entirely confident that we can, and very much look forward to working together to make Kirtland’s tomorrow, better today.
Kevin F. Potter