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Landowner Fighting River Bend Park Plan

Neighbor of land planned for parking lot is appealing site variances approved by citizen boards

Two River Bend property owners continue their fight against plans for a 12-space parking lot to serve as  on the Cuyahoga River.

Jim and Diana Sumner filed appeals Tuesday in Portage County Common Pleas Court asking the court to overturn variances granted to the Kent Parks and Recreation Department that pave the way for construction of the parking lot and pathway down to the river on park land.

The , then the Kent Board of Building Appeals. The Kent Planning Commission then to permit the project.

The variances pertained to building the 12-space parking lot within 100 feet of the right-of-way for River Bend Boulevard and establishing the park within the flood plain of the Cuyahoga River.

The Sumners live across the river from the park's six acres, but the property lines — which run down the middle of the river — abut each other.

The Sumners' attorney, Joseph Spoonster, argued that the planning commission could not approve the project because it is a boat launch and not a park. Spoonster said boat launches are not permitted uses in residential districts.

The evolution of the plans for the 6-acre site throughout the years would seem to support Spoonster's argument. The parks department has repeatedly scaled down plans — in response to residents' concerns — to eliminate restroom and picnic facilities, remove a dock, reduce the number of parking spaces and lower the lighting.

Kent Parks and Recreation Director John Idone said previously all those reductions were made to lessen the impact of the park on the neighborhood while still serving primarily as an access point for canoe and kayak launching on the Cuyahoga River.

The Sumners are apppealing the decisions of all three boards; the planning commission, zoning board and building board. The appeals were first filed with the court last week. No hearings have yet been scheduled.

Fred Pierre February 25, 2011 at 06:57 AM
I would love to launch my canoe there - it is a beautiful spot on the river. I guess if you live upstream, you just don't appreciate how many landowners share the river with canoes. There are parks and boat launched everywhere else in Kent, abutting people's properties, without ruining lives. I understand this might cause a minor drop in the resale value for two houses, but it might increase the value if canoeists move in. Now go ahead and throw bombs, I can handle it. Canoeing is really fun. Hope you get a chance to try it someday.
MOST HATED PERSON ON PATCH February 25, 2011 at 11:11 AM
i've launched a canoe or two from there before. no hassle. it would be nice to have more than 1- 1/2 parking spots there though.. and a picnic shelter park area... what a great idea. something half the size of tannery park would be perfect. what's the harm?
Raymond March 16, 2011 at 11:45 PM
Move to the middle of Montana if you dont want so see people next door. They arent putting in a Six Flags. The residents were adamently against a parking lot for a bike trail on Hudson and Judson Road, and the main people who were fighting it later donated a part of their land to use for extra parking. The hikers and bikers take great care of the trail and it is an asset to the neighborhood. It seems like most people are for this idea, especially the scaled back plan. Even if you were to give the people of the neighborhood the right to say what goes in their area. Id bet they would vote for this
KentCitizen007 March 17, 2011 at 12:47 AM
Raymond, I doubt it would be an issue in a City that takes good care of the parks. However the director of the park department does not. For example last week when I took my lunch breaks in Tannery Park .I saw the same trash can overflowing with trash. The trash was all over the park and looked terrible. If they can't even keep the parks clean in the winter how will the keep up in the summer. Residents in Riverbend have good reason to be concerned about their new neighbor.
Brian November 26, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Kent has never learned that you can't please all of the people all of the time. How many well-deserving projects in this city have been delayed or altered (to their detriment) because of 4)? It's pathetic.

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