This was originally posted on Lobbyists for Citizens.
Willoughby Hills Scandals…part 5
(LFC Comments: Thanks to our Willoughby Hills lobbyist for this very interesting story. If you missed the other 4 parts, here are links to each one.)
Who’s Dumping in Willoughby Hills? Part 5 of 5
Remember how Mark Belich got burned by Eastlake when it shutdown his gambling parlor, and wouldn’t let him turn it into a strip club even after he reminded them of how much money he’d pumped into the city? Well, he seems to have learned from that experience.
Belich’s company Parkview Land Development LLC was formed on November 17, 2017 and it purchased the 38 acres at 37200 Chardon Road a couple of weeks later. Meanwhile, another Belich company, Great Lakes Crushing, was one of the contractors tasked with digging the massive Cuyahoga County sewer project tunnels. What gets dug must be dumped, and digging miles long sewer tunnels produces a lot of dirt.
Appearing before the April 12, 2018 Willoughby Hills Planning and Zoning Commission’s panel of Good Ol’ Boys, he explained his plan to “fill in the area in front where there are no wetlands” to make the driveway less steep. The plan brought before the Board was to dump 120,000 – 140,000 yards of dirt along the hillside adjacent to Chardon Road, necessitating a “large quantity of trucks” to accomplish this purpose.
If you live in Willoughby Hills, you might be thinking, What’s in this project for me? You might think this if you watched the legions of giant dump trucks speeding down Chardon Road, or almost skidded into a ditch on the messy slippery mess they left all over the road, or got stuck behind an erratically driven forklift or street sweeper. Or maybe you think that as you drive by and look out your window at the scene reminiscent of a strip mine.
Whatever your reason for wondering why on earth the Willoughby Hills Planning and Zoning Commission signed off on this mess, Belich has you covered. Over the course of the meeting, he explained all the wonderful benefits to the community of his dumping project:
- He owns two full-time street sweepers and doesn’t need to rent them,
- The dirt will come in on bottom-dump dump trucks,
- His company is the second largest soil stabilizer in Northeast Ohio,
- He has lived in Willoughby Hills for 20 years.
- His project will help the police and fire departments by allowing them better access to the property,
- He’s better than the previous owner: “When we bought the house, we discovered that they were cooking crystal meth in the basement and growing marijuana. [His project] will be a relief to all of us in our community here”,
- He’s just going to forget about how the City of Willoughby Hills dumped potentially contaminated soil on the property in the 90’s,
- He plans to restore the original 1840s and 1920s houses on the property,
- He feels “very deeply about preserving the area”,
- The project is not a development project despite the name of his company. He only picked Parkview Land Development because Parkview Farm was taken;
Referring to the dirt he’s planning to dump on the property he says, “fortunately, we are the receivers of soils coming from the NEO Regional Sewer District drillings that have been part of the Clean Water Act to preserve our lake water to stop sewage from going there … It will help us all to find more clean water.”
He spent a lot of money on it already: “I can recite some numbers. $365,000 to buy the property; $4,500 for taxes on the property for the last six months while we get through this; $9,000 for engineering fees to do the drawing; $9,000 for a wetland study; $1,000 for [the city engineer] to review the drawings; $1,000 to Lake County Engineer to review the drawings; $325 for Lake County Soil & Water to review the drawings”
Clearly, if the City of Eastlake knew all the virtues of his gambling joint or his strip club had to offer they would have made different decisions.
From Belich’s own words it’s clear that before his company bought this property he knew it was a place other contractors dumped dirt, possibly even contaminated dirt, and he is engaged in a business that needs to dump a lot of dirt.
One other thing Belich mentioned at the April 19, 2018 meeting: “We hope to restore the 1840’s house to its original condition and move Julie’s parents there.” Julie being Belich’s wife. Julie’s parents include her father, Cuvier Lukat.
Cuvier Lukat being the 82 year-old Willoughby resident who donated over $6,000 to elect Andy Gardner, Chris Hallum, Michael Kline, and Joe Jarmuszkiewicz in Willoughby Hills.
(LFC Comments: We offer a forum for any of the individuals mentioned in this five part series to provide a rebuttal to any statements made by the Willoughby Hills lobbyist. When we read this, we could not help but think of the saying: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we first set out to deceive”.)