Northfield Village -- The village has filed five first-degree misdemeanor complaints alleging violations of village building and housing codes against the owner of the Summit Plaza shopping center on Route 8.
Village Law Director Brad Bryan said the five charges, plus a minor misdemeanor grass and weed citation, were filed in Stow Municipal Court Jan. 22, the same day that New Plaza Management Co., LLC partner Howard Shafron pleaded not guilty to the charges in the village's Mayor's Court.
Shafron is listed as defendant in municipal court records and Bryan said that Shafron pleaded not guilty to the charges at a Jan. 25 arraignment.
Shafron did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Officials say the action comes after violation notices issued last summer went largely unaddressed.
Bryan said Village Service Director Jason Walters, who also serves as building and zoning inspector, issued violation notices to New Plaza Management last June and July. He said citations based on the notices were filed in mayor's court in October when progress to correct the alleged violations had not been made.
Bryan said the village was forced to transfer the six citations to the municipal court because Shafron pleaded not guilty, rather than guilty or no contest, in mayor's court.
"We don't hold trials (in mayor's court)," he said.
Walters said Jan. 24 that New Plaza Management has addressed two of the five building complaints this month by replacing the roof on a former car wash building in the shopping center's main building, as well painting and repairing its gutters.
However, "There still are a lot of issues that need to be dealt with," he added.
Bryan said that because the car wash work was done after the citations were filed in mayor's court, the citations still need to be heard at the municipal court level.
According to mayor's court documents, the building and housing code violations allege that New Plaza Management:
• Allowed exterior building conditions that "deteriorates or debases the appearance of the neighborhood or creates a safety hazard," by not repairing a wall at the rear of the former Gabriel Brothers store location that had been damaged when it was struck by a car.
• Allowed exterior building conditions that "deteriorates or debases the appearance of the neighborhood or creates a fire, safety or health hazard," by failing to properly maintain its parking lot "sections of which are cracked, deteriorated and contain pot holes."
• Did not properly maintain and "weather tight" the roof of the car wash at the south end of the plaza.
• Allowed exterior paint on the car wash building to remain "faded, deteriorated and flaking."
• Allowed paint or other protective coatings on many exterior main plaza building facia boards and overhangs to become "faded, deteriorated and flaking."
The minor misdemeanor violation alleges that New Plaza Management "has failed to keep its property free and clear from noxious weeds and has permitted the grass on the south side of the property to grow in excess of 8 inches in height."
Bryan said that the penalty for a first-degree misdemeanor is up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000, and for a minor misdemeanor, it's a fine of up to $150.