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JoJo's owner to sue Medina

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MEDINA — A local businessman, denied by Medina City Council in his attempt to rezone three properties he owns, said he plans on suing the city.

An ordinance that would have rezoned the properties at 216, 222 and 226 S. Jefferson St. from R-3, high density residential, to M-U, multi-use, was voted down 6-1 Monday by City Council.

Dominic Carrino, owner of Dominic’s Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant and JoJo’s Sports Bar, 221 S. Jefferson St., said he plans on taking the matter to court.

“We are going to sue them,” he said Wednesday.

He said he purchased the three houses across the street from his restaurant to use as office space, such as an attorney’s office.

“I don’t want to deal with tenants,” he said. “I don’t want to be a landlord for tenants. I’d rather deal with commercial (property),”

Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell said the city doesn’t comment on litigation.

Carrino’s attorney, Anthony Vacanti, of Tucker Ellis LLP, said during a public hearing June 24 that there is a misunderstanding about what his client wants to do with the properties. Concerned residents in the area believe he wants to use the homes as parking lots for bar patrons near closing time at 2 a.m.

But Carrino said his parking crunch is around lunch and dinner.

“I don’t have a parking problem after 9 at night,” he said. “They have Garfield (Elementary School) closed. We used that at dinner and lunch.”

He blames the Medina Library — and vice versa — for occupying parking spots for his restaurant. In turn, the library blames his customers for parking in their lot.

A courthouse parking deck is located across West Washington Street from both venues. Carrino said after court lets out, the parking deck remains almost empty.

“People just don’t use it,” he said.

The Planning Commission reviewed the rezoning at its meeting April 11 and did not recommend the requested rezoning to City Council. It was voted down 3-2.

Council followed suit Monday. Only Ward 1 Councilman Bob Starcher voted in favor of the rezoning.

Last year, the city threatened to sue Carrino over a large no-parking sign he erected in his parking lot in an effort to keep library patrons out. The city was against the size of the letters on the sign, saying they couldn’t be more than 2 inches high.

Carrino said he took the sign down and changed the size of the letters. He said he spoke to City Economic Development Director Kimberly Marshall and Community Development Director Jonathan Mendel and he said they wanted the houses on that side of South Jefferson Street zoned multi-use.

“There’s already a dentist on that side,” Carrino said. “So, I bought the houses and went to zoning. We met all the criteria for parking and lighting, but they voted it down.”

He next spoke at a Finance Committee meeting where he and his lawyer cited the city’s comprehensive plan, which would allow the rezoning.

“The city is full of spot zoning,” Carrino said. “Now, they don’t want spot zoning.”

After the Council meeting Monday, he said he tried to contact Ward 2 Councilman Dennie Simpson to try to work out some kind of compromise.

“He never called me back,” Carrino sad.

The business owner said he doesn’t know what other option he has other than to sue.

“They’ve been fighting me,” Carrino said.

He said after the lawsuit is filed in Medina Municipal Court, he expects it to go before a mediator.

“If it goes to court, then the judge would make a decision,” Carrino said.

He said there is no monetary figure attached to the lawsuit — just allowing the properties to be rezoned to multi-use.

“It’s been a struggle,” Carrino said. “The people in this town are great. They support me and my business. The people on Council have their own agenda, and I’m not part of it.”

Dominic’s/JoJo’s employs 100 people and generates about $4 million in sales per year, he said.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.


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