Thursday, April 17th, 2008
City developer accepts changes in land swap deal at Pullman Bay
By William Kincaid
Developer Ron Amstutz has agreed to the changes Celina City Council members made in a proposal to swap land at Pullman Bay Park.
The deal would swap city parkland for Amstutz's land so city council could relocate the park entrance from County Road to Lake Shore Drive.
Community Development Director Kent Bryan - who has directed negotiations with Amstutz and other property owners in the area - and council members met during the city's park and recreation committee meeting on Wednesday night. Only two community members attended the meeting.
Bryan said Amstutz - though disappointed - is okay with not being able to put up a sign advertising his future development on a public right-of-way and not having the city pay for resurfacing of the portion of County Road that would become his, if the deal is passed by city council.
Bryan said Amstutz also agreed to allowing the city to retain an extra tenth of an acre of his land to keep the new entrance away from the water of Pullman Bay.
At the recommendation of council members, Bryan now will talk to Amstutz about his request that the city make the rotary foot bridge taller. Amstutz has said he wants it taller to give boaters access to his land, where he has said he plans to build condominiums. Amstutz, according to council members, could modify or replace the bridge at his own cost.
Another request by council was to keep the easement along the channel for maintenance purposes.
"He understands the intent and he's okay with the intent," Bryan said.
But if the city were to keep the 20-foot easement, Amstutz may have problems with installing boat docks along his land in the future. As long as Amstutz owns all of the land to the shore, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources could not deny him boat access.
Bryan suggested writing a right-of-entry agreement for the sole purpose of allowing the city to maintain the channel. City assistant attorney Angela Nickell said such an agreement would be more legally binding if placed in the land deed.
Council member Jeff Larmore said if the city gets the easement, it could be asked by Amstutz to actually maintain the channel - something he said the city hasn't done in years.
"They could handcuff us down the road," he said about area property owners.
The city already has an easement on the south side of the channel.
"If the city is going to keep it (easement), it should maintain it," Larmore said.
Council members agreed at the end of the meeting not to pursue keeping the easement.
Also, resident Don Kohnen questioned the safety of the proposed new entrance to Pullman Bay Park. He said he believes it would be dangerous for cars coming from the new entrance onto Lake Shore Drive.
He said according to police records, there has never been an accident on County Road (near the old entrance), which council members say they want to vacate because of safety issues.
Kohnen said he believes the city is creating a safety issue by proposing to construct a road directly off Lake Shore Drive.
Larmore said he adamantly disagreed with Kohnen's assessment. County Road, he told the newspaper, goes over the R.J. Corman Railroad track and has a blind spot. He added that council's primary concern is safety. Children on bikes or a family, he said, could be T-boned by a semi or stuck by a train while trying to enter the park at the current entrance.
Larmore also said vehicles would only be traveling at 20 mph on Lake Shore Drive.