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Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Businessman criticizes law director over restaurant power

By Janie Southard
ST. MARYS - It's absurd there's no power on at Jaqua's downtown restaurant a resident told city council at Monday's regular meeting, after also asserting one city official is obstructing downtown progress.
Kalvin Wayne Schanz, local businessman and owner of many downtown buildings, accused City Law Director Kraig Noble of being a major obstacle in the well-being of downtown.
"Please, Kraig, turn on the power to the restaurant (Jaqua's Bistro on West Spring Street) ... Bill (Jaqua) has spent $38,000 to get the place running ... You know it's hard to even get people to come to St. Marys. We need that restaurant," said Schanz, a Michigan native and local entertainer.
For his part, Noble said he would "take a backseat to no one" where the welfare and development of downtown is concerned.
"The (Community Improvement Corporation) has helped any number of downtown businesses over the years," said Noble, who serves as president of the CIC.
Following the meeting, Noble explained the city's position.
Counsel Appraisals, a Schanz company, rented all the store fronts in the Fort Barbee building from Columbus owner Fred Schwab. Counsel Appraisals, who sublet the restaurant facility to Bill Jaqua, was evicted from the rented properties October 27, 2006.
"Basically Counsel Appraisals said it would make certain improvements in lieu of rent. Schwab claims Counsel failed to hold up its end of the agreement. And so they were evicted, as I understand it," Noble said.
He continued that this is clearly a civil matter between two or three business people, if you include Jaqua.
The building has sat vacant since last November. In March 2007 Jaqua came to the city claiming he had rights to occupy the building and wanted the power turned back on.
"This is what alerted me to the problem. I talked with both sides' attorneys in late March after analyzing the dispute ... We need to see some evidence (Jaqua) has a right to be there. If there's a lease between Jaqua and Schwab, we want to see it," Noble said.
All parties admit Jaqua has some property in the building. Whether he has any rights at this point is for the court to decide.
Schanz claimed to council that city police officers told Jaqua to "break a window and get your stuff."
Noble said that situation arose a while back when some of Schwab's people were cleaning out some things in the building. The police asked the Schwab people to leave in what Noble called a peacekeeping effort.
"The city will not be judge and jury in this matter. We are not a court," said Noble adding that Schwab's attorney asked the city to file a trespass action.
"We aren't going to do that, either," Noble said.
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