Ordinance Snafu Could Delay Riverview Florist Property Sale

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio — Language in a previous agreement between East Liverpool City Council and the Community Improvement Corp. could hinder the sale of the former Riverview Florist property.

More than one offer has been made to purchase the Park Way property but none have come to fruition. A purchase offer has been pending for several months but no action had been taken by the CIC board.

The original ordinance, requested by then Councilman Sherrie Curtis and passed unanimously by council on Sept. 26, 2013, served to transfer the former Riverview Florist property to the CIC. The city had purchased the property for $1.3 million from the Bosco family during the administration of Mayor James Swoger, annexing it from Liverpool Township.

The original ordinance authorizes the city to enter into an agreement with the CIC to “develop certain property recently annexed to the city.”

During council’s recent meeting, an ordinance prepared to amend the original 2013 ordinance was tabled at the request of Councilman Fred Rayl, who chairs the finance and ordinance committee. The amendment was among 11 pieces of legislation recommended to council by the finance committee during its Jan. 25 meeting.

Although Rayl gave no reason during the council meeting for wanting the ordinance tabled, afterward, both he and Auditor Marilyn Bosco said the amendment would reinstate language in the original ordinance that was deleted by an unknown hand. 

At issue is an attachment on the original ordinance that which outlines the agreement, which states the CIC “shall act as the city’s agent to sell certain real property described” in the attached deed. In the original ordinance, signed by Mayor Swoger, President of Council John Torma and Clerk Pat Scafide, the word “sell” is crossed out with a pen and the word “develop” (sic) is hand-written in its place.

Also, an entire section of the original document is scribbled out with pen. That paragraph states, “The Mayor of the city of East Liverpool shall execute the necessary instruments, including deeds of conveyance to the city of East Liverpool Community Improvement Corporation to carry out the forms of this agreement.” The word “Delete” is handwritten across the scribbled-out paragraph.

According to city officials, when these discrepancies were recently noticed by now-retired Planning Director Bill Cowan, Law Director Charles Payne recommended the ordinance be amended, saying the deletions to the original legislation could be construed as meaning the CIC only has authority to develop, but not sell, the 85-plus acres of land.

During Rayl’s committee meeting, he said nothing was mentioned about the Riverview Florist property and it was confused with legislation being discussed by Mayor Greg Bricker concerning Maryland Avenue and Dresden Avenue.

While preparing his report for council, Rayl realized the amendment legislation had not actually been considered by the committee and he did not feel comfortable letting council vote on the amendment without putting it before the committee. The amendment ordinance will be on the agenda of Rayl’s March 1 finance committee meeting. In considering the language change for the Riverview property, Rayl said he would like to see the city recoup some of the money paid for the acreage if the CIC does sell it.

As it stands, the CIC would be sole recipient of any proceeds from the sale. 

Pictured: The former Riverview Florist property in East Liverpool.

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