Investigator: Running feud pits neighbors against business

10:54 PM, Sep 5, 2011   |    comments
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An ongoing feud between residents of a high-end development and the owner of a renowned sausage company is threatening the peace of one of Cleveland's most stable neighbors, and residents say the city has left them hanging.

On a recent morning, the sound of large delivery trucks and tractor-trailers pierced the night air as drivers loaded up food and supplies at an Ohio City warehouse owned by Five Star Meats, even though residents were trying to sleep in homes just feet away.

It's not unusual for them to show up as early as 3 a.m., says Joan Maguire, who lives across the street.

"The biggest problem is my kids can't sleep at night," said Jeff Makar, who helped develop a complex of multimillion-dollar townhouses on the corner of Clinton Avenue, right next to the warehouse.

"I mean, every time we try to open up our windows at night, these refrigerated trucks are running. They plug them in, they vibrate our house."

It didn't used to be this way. When Makar broke ground a decade ago, the building housed only Five Star Meats and it operated only during the day.

"That's one of the reasons I love living in this neighborhood. It was very quiet," he said.

Then owner Bob Gutwein moved sausage production out of the city and rented his warehouse to five other companies.

Almost overnight, residents said the trucks started to appear and sometimes they didn't leave - with refrigerated trucks running all night long near the loading dock.

Makar's parents say they catch the brunt of the problems. They spent a considerable amount of money to restore an historic home as part of the development.

Now, the trucks drive right past their side windows on what was originally a temporary driveway that's been made a permanent entrance way for the docks.

"Some of the semi-trailers are 70, 80 feet long and they stretch all the way from the sidewalk here all the way back to the end of our house," said Lou Makar. "Then they sit there." 

The Makars tried to get help at least two years ago from what is now called Ohio City Inc., a community development organization that works with the city to resolve neighborhood disputes, among other things.

But Ohio City Inc., who was working with the city, determined it was a private matter and they couldn't get involved.

That only made the problem worse, residents said. It got so bad that in June, 65 neighbors signed a petition asking Councilman Joe Cimperman to step in. One of those who signed was former Cleveland Housing Court Judge Bill Corrigan, who lives across the street.

"We're kind of left in the dark," said Makar. "There's almost $20 million in new development on this corner and it's getting thrown out the window."

Both Gutwein and Cimperman wouldn't talk on-camera, but they said a city building inspector recently cited the Five Star Meats owner for not having a proper permit and told them to eliminate truck traffic between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Lou Makar said the warning hasn't helped. He said noisy truck traffic woke them up.


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