City completes $477,100 Concordia land purchase; seeks developer

by Laura Bednar

Following a period of due diligence, Independence closed on the purchase of property behind Concordia Lutheran Church on March 2.

City council approved the purchase at a Nov. 15 workshop by a 4-3 vote. Vice Mayor David Grendel and councilpersons Tom Narduzzi, John DiGeronimo and Chris Walchanowicz voted in favor of the purchase; councilpersons Anthony Togliatti, Jim Trakas and Dale Veverka voted against. The purchase price was $477,100 including closing costs.

Finance Director Vern Blaze explained where the funds came from for the purchase: “The city has recently been allocating some funds each year for real estate/property acquisitions in the annual capital improvement plan. So the money for this acquisition was taken from funds both allocated and reserved for property acquisition in 2022.”

The due diligence period ran from Dec. 15, 2022-Feb. 15, 2023. City Engineer Don Ramm said environmental consultant Haley & Aldrich was hired to perform work in three areas.

An environmental site assessment, which determines if the property has any “recognized environmental conditions,” did not find any RECs in the form of oil-stained soil and stone near oil and gas well equipment owned by Pin Oak Energy Partners. One REC was identified at the northern portion of the property classified as a dump site. According to the findings, “This is a common REC and typically does not interfere with future development but will need further assessment by a developer.”

Consultants also screened the site for potential wetland impacts, defined by hydric soils, water-loving vegetation and presence of water, according to Ramm. None of the soil types were classified as hydric but two potential wetland areas were identified. The findings again stated, “This will likely need to be pursued further by a potential developer.”

Haley & Alrich contracted with Donald Bohning Associates for the American Land Title Association and boundary survey portion of the due diligence. There were three active and binding documents found pertaining to existing oil and gas leases with Bass Energy. The city must allow the continued operation of the existing well, equipment areas and access drives of Bass Energy and Pin Oak Energy Partners “in perpetuity or for as long as the oil and gas leases remain in effect.”

The total cost for due diligence work was $15,000.

“The results of the due-diligence endeavors produced good and valuable information, as well as identified future issues to contend with on the property,” said Ramm. “However, none of the issues warranted reasonable cause not to move forward with purchasing the land as originally intended.”

The city’s next step is to find a developer to create a plan for maintenance-free homes on the property.


Some residents submitted a referendum petition to the city to restrict any land development, or the expenditure of public tax dollars towards the development or planning associated with the property, until after the ordinance was put before a vote of the people, if not repealed.

According to city ordinances, within 30 days after city council enacts legislation, a petition signed by 10% or more of those voting in the last regular municipal election can request that council repeal the ordinance or submit it to a vote of the people. The vote would take place at the next general or regular municipal election. The petition was filed on Dec. 15, 2022, with 280 signatures. The petition was sent to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections for certification, and the board found it contained 193 valid signatures, 49 fewer than required.

Mayor Greg Kurtz said he was glad the petition failed, because people may not have understood what they were signing. “After the town hall meeting I think people would have removed their names [from the petition],” he said. A town hall meeting was held at the Civic Center in December to address resident concerns.

“I respect the fact that neighbors are sensitive to change,” he said, adding that he believes the majority of residents want maintenance-free homes. ∞