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The littler referendum
?Issue 96 is a low-key challenge that made it to the Ohio Supreme Court

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
Oakwood Country Club is the center of a referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot.
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In The Region:

South Euclid’s Issue 96 is no Ohio Issue 2. The Issue 2 fight over public employee collective bargaining is fueled by tens of millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of signatures.

But little issue 96 also is a referendum, in which citizens are challenging a decision made by their elected governments. And is has some passion of its own. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more the fight over rezoning a Northeast Ohio country club.

The fight over the future of a country club

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It took a trip to the Ohio Supreme Court for Citizens for Oakwood to get their the referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot. In fact, it took two.

They’re challenging a decision by South Euclid’s City Council to rezone Oakwood Country Club to allow for a shopping center.

Fran Mentch is with Citizens for Oakwood. 

 “Our strength is in the actual voter contact. We are knocking on doors and talking to people.” 

But backers of the rezoning have launched a Web site with everyone from Mayor Georgine Welo to citizens touting the project.

The site includes renderings of a 21-acre park that developer Mitchell Schneider says he’ll establish and maintain with proceeds from the project. 

 “The best way for the community to end up with a portion of this as a wonderful public park, is to vote ‘yes’ on this proposal.  Because if we end up having to pursue something less economically viable, of course we’ll have to use all of the land in order to develop it with an appropriate return on the investment that we’ve made.” 

 Schneider says if the referendum kills the project, the land will revert to residential zoning. He can build about 150 on the South Euclid part of the property. But that means no park.

Proponents also are pushing jobs. Schneider estimates the project will employ 700 people. 

Oppenents like Mentch say Mitchell has the money, but those opposed to the retail center have a better message. 

“Big-box costs the community money. We’ve done the calculations. We’ve done our homework. It’s going to cost the city of South Euclid $87,000 a year to maintain that. People will get a higher and best use if they vote against big-box—even if they put something else in that actually would bring money to the community.”

Developer, Schneider, has run into referendums like Issue 96 before.  In 2000, he was developing Legacy Village, which Lyndhurst voters eventually approved.

He says the rezoning opponents in South Euclid and neighboring Cleveland Heights could never afford what they’d like – for the country club to remain largely 150 acres of open space. 

“They have not been successful in raising anything close to the capital that would have been required to buy the club from the former private country club ownership.  Nor do they have a plan for the operation or maintenance of the club.”

Citizens for Oakwood got the referendum on the ballot after going to the Ohio Supreme Court twice when City Council and the developer tried to block the initiative. 


Listener Comments:

If you were a caddy in the 1980s / 1990s then Oakwood Country Club gained quite a Cleveland Ohio area distinction .It seemed outstanding,beautiful, friendly, and inspiring.

The members,guests,staff and vendors gave me reasons to appreciate American freedom.When something needed to be done soon somebody / persons almost always were flawless in achieving it.

Posted by: Pete Scully (Strongsville Ohio) on May 26, 2012 5:05AM
Yeah, there's that Straw man, again.

No one expects a 150 acre park. We just abhor the idea of huge Superstores and expansive, endless parking lots in our residential neighborhoods. Warensville Center Road isn't capable of handling all that, and the Cedar-Warrensville intersection can't handle that.

A No On 96 vote hits the reset button so rational grownups can come up with something that doesn't destroy such a treasure.

Oh, that "pahk" he talks about? Detention basin and swales and stuff. You'll have to drive between two families' homes on East Antisdale to get to it, once he tears the existing home down. Not much parking. It's a Trojan Horse, and the council and mayor are inexplicably abandoning their own constituents and campaigning for the developer.

Pretty lousy on their parts, if you ask me.

Posted by: Garry Kanter (South Euclid and Cleveland Heights home owner) on November 4, 2011 12:11PM
This may be of interest to your readers and listeners...

Posted by: Olivia (Cleveland Heights) on November 4, 2011 9:11AM
Residents DO HAVE A PLAN for Oakwood. It is called Metroparks. Residents of Cuyahoga County all pay $52 a year per $100,000 of their property. We do not have a Metropark nearby. ANYTHING IS BETTER FOR SOUTH EUCLID THAN BIG BOX! ANYTHING! Big box retail is outdated. We shop online now. We only go to bricks and mortar for groceries. Big Box will hurt our local grocers. Help us preserve the LAST LARGE GREENSPACE in an inner ring suburb of Cleveland. What wealth the financiers did not take with their housing fraud, this global investor will take from our community. Please join our fight to save our community. Go to to volunteer. We need you!

Posted by: Fran Mentch (Cleveland Heights OH) on November 4, 2011 1:11AM
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