Oakwood settles year-long condo dispute

Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 6:08 PM
Updated: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 7:47 PM

A settlement agreement that could bring a proposed condominium complex to Pointe Oakwood was approved by City Council on Monday night in a 3-0 vote.

Vice Mayor William Byington and Council Member Anne Hilton recused themselves from the vote. Byington previously said he lives across the street from Pointe Oakwood and Hilton said she has relatives in that neighborhood.

The agreement was reached after a year-long dispute between residents, the city and the developer.

“We wanted a consensus agreement; we weren’t trying to ram anything down anybody’s throat,” Oakwood Mayor Bill Duncan said.

The settlement abandons the proposed 32-unit complex at the corner of Far Hills and Schantz Avenues called “The Pointe,” and approves 84 units along Old River Trail called “The Trails.”

INITIAL REPORT: Oakwood condo plan moves ahead despite objections

Oakwood Investment Group, the owners of the property, must also amend their master plan to allow for the construction of a three-story office building on five acres of land in the southwest corner of Pointe Oakwood. The building will complement the existing Sugar Camp campus near the development, said City Attorney Robert Jacques.

Also, four single-family homes will be built on the lots where The Pointe had been planned.

Council initially approved The Pointe development, but denied construction of The Trails. After the settlement agreement, the two developments switched fates.

“Part of it was the developer looked at what made the most economic sense,” Duncan said, in reference to the decision to develop The Trails. “They felt like the 84 units at The Trails would be reasonable density.”

Last year, two lawsuits were filed against Oakwood over the two proposed condo developments — one by 15 Pointe Oakwood residents, and the other by the developer.

RELATED: Oakwood facing two lawsuits over proposed condo development

Oakwood residents said that construction of two, high-density developments would cause major traffic concerns. They filed a lawsuit against the city to stop construction of The Pointe. The developer, Hills Developers, filed a lawsuit to appeal the rejection of The Trails.

No one representing the developer attended Monday’s meeting.

After more than a year, the three sides have made compromises to suit all parties.

Stephen Susta, who has lived in Pointe Oakwood for two years and was part of the resident group that filed suit against the city, said for all parties to be on common ground is “an accomplishment all itself.”

“I don’t think anyone is thrilled with the complete outcome,” Susta said. “People are happy with the settlement that I think will be a solution to all the parties. We’re pleased to hopefully someday soon get this all behind us.”

Last February, a council meeting regarding the development lasted for more than six hours. Monday’s meeting was much shorter, lasting about 20 minutes before being adjourned.

The settlement agreement must now be reviewed and accepted by the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court before the developer can move forward.

Police: Cemetery plant thief is flower shop owner

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017 @ 6:45 PM



WLADIMIR BULGAR/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF

A police surveillance operation to determine who was stealing flowers and plants from a New Jersey cemetery came to a startling conclusion: The suspect is a flower shop owner.

Theft complaints at First Reformed Church Cemetery prompted police to use surveillance cameras to monitor for criminal activity. Lynda S. Wingate, 59, was captured Monday night on surveillance video stealing plants from a grave, police said.

>> Read more trending news

Wingate is a former police dispatcher and current owner of a flower shop. It was unclear why Wingate was stealing the cemetery floral displays, as it does not appear she was reselling them, police said.

Wingate was charged with theft of movable property, according to the Pequannock Township Police Department news release.

Pentagon: Kettering soldier may have been killed by friendly fire

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017 @ 9:33 PM

UPDATE @ 1:40 p.m. 

The father of a Kettering soldier killed in Afghanistan said his son knew the risks of war but was driven to become an Army Ranger.

 

“We had talks about the possibility of losing his life and he always said that he’d rather die defending his country and defending his family then dying in a car accident or cancer,” said Andre L. Thomas, 58, Rixeyville, Va.

 

The Pentagon has raised the possibility Army Ranger Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas and another soldier died in a friendly fire incident during the raid. Andre Thomas, an Air Force veteran once stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, said he bore no animosity however his son died in combat in a raid against ISIS.

 

“He knew what he was facing and there was confusion,” he said. “This happens. As far as us, we have no animosity or anything against anyone. If it happened, it happened and war is awful. I hate it and I wish we didn’t have it.”

UPDATE @ 12:45 p.m. (April 28)

According to the Pentagon, the two Army Rangers killed in Afghanistan, one of which was a Kettering graduate, may have died as a result of friendly fire.

An investigation is currently underway to to determine if they were killed by Afghan commandos or other American forces.  

»RELATED: Friendly fire may have killed 2 Army Rangers in Afghanistan

UPDATE @ 12:15 p.m. (April 28)

The Army Special Forces released additional information regarding Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas of Kettering, who was killed this week in Afghanistan. 

Thomas was an Anti-Armor Specialist assigned to Company D, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga. He was on his third deployment to Afghanistan. 

Thomas was born in Colorado but his hometown was Kettering, Ohio where he enlisted in the army in February 2012. 

His awards and decorations include the Ranger Tab, the Expert Infantryman’s Badge and the Parachutist Badge. 

Thomas has also been awarded the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, and the NATO Medal. 

UPDATE @ 11:04 a.m. (April 28)

The Department of Defense confirms the death of Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas, 23, of Kettering, in Afghanistan this week.

Also killed was Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers, 22, of Bloomington, Illinois. 

The Dept. of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. They died April 27 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, as a result of small arms fire while engaged in dismounted operations, according to a release.

Both soldiers were assigned to 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Ga. The incident is under investigation. 

EARLIER REPORT

One of two soldiers killed in Afghanistan this week is believed to be a 2012 Kettering Fairmont High School graduate.

Several social media posts expressed condolences and sadness about the death of Cameron Thomas, a U.S. Army Ranger. 

A Facebook message read: “Rest in Peace Cameron Thomas. You are a hero and will truly be missed.” 

A tweet read: “RIP Cameron Thomas an Army Ranger from Kettering that was KIA in Afghanistan last night. Thank you for everything you have done for us.”

»RELATED: 2 U.S. troops killed, 1 injured in Afghanistan

Kettering City Schools spokeswoman Kari Basson confirmed Thomas was a Fairmont grad and said tonight that district administrators were just finding out about his death.

Department of Defense officials indicated they will release the names and hometowns of the soldiers sometime Friday.

Fairmont Principal Tyler Alexander said he has not received official notification, but students have been talking about Thomas and staff have asked him about the alum.

“I have had nothing official come to me from the family,” Alexander said. “I would offer my condolences to the family.”

While in high school, Thomas was an athlete, notably a swimmer.

“It’s sad,” the principal said. “But we respect what he chose to do to fight for our country, to provide us with an opportunity to have what we have.”

The Military Times is reporting that according to U.S. military officials, the soldiers were killed and a third was wounded while battling Islamic State loyalists in eastern Afghanistan. 

This brings to three the number of Americans killed in action in Afghanistan this year, according to the Military Times.

The soldiers were taking part in a lengthy raid supported by airstrikes from U.S. warplanes and targeting the Islamic State group in Nangarhar province, Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told the Associated Press.

A number of Islamic State fighters have been engaging in a long-running battle with Afghanistan security forces in the Achin district.

(Dayton Daily News reporters Lynn Hulsey and Barrie Barber and News Center 7 reporter Kate Bartley contributed to this report written by Breaking News Staff Writer Jen Balduf)

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Dayton man 5th Ohioan charged for involvement with ISIS

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017 @ 7:00 PM


            Southwest Ohio residents Laith Alebbini, Christopher Lee Cornell and Munir Abdulkader were each arrested on terrorism-related charges. STAFF ILLUSTRATION / CONTRIBUTED

The Dayton man arrested Wednesday on charges accusing him of planning to join ISIS was the fifth Ohioan and 122nd person charged in the U.S. with similar offenses, according to data collected by a Washington D.C.-based group studying homegrown terrorism.

However, Laith Waleed Alebbini, 26, of Dayton, bucked recent trends when he tried to board an airplane at Cincinnati/Kentucky International Airport.

FIRST REPORT: Dayton man accused of trying to join ISIS in Syria

“We haven’t seen that many attempted travelers recently,” said Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University.

“Your guy’s a bit of a novelty,” Hughes said Friday after returning to the U.S. from a conference in Austria. “I think he missed his window if he wanted to travel.”

Hughes said ISIS had been urging recruits to focus on local actions, rather than trying to travel to Syria or Jordan.

RELATED: UD professor says we should feel lucky after terror arrest

“2015 was kind of the banner year for ISIS in America,” Hughes said, noting 61 people were arrested that year, compared to 10 so far this year.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” said Hughes, a recognized expert on homegrown violent extremism and countering violent extremism.

While unable to travel abroad to get training, the aspiring terrorists sometimes “turn inward” if forced to remain in the U.S.

“It causes a level of frustration,” said Hughes, who previously worked at the National Counterterrorism Center helping the U.S. government counter violent terrorism.

So far, 72 of those arrested have pleaded or been found guilty.

RELATED: Who is the Dayton man linked to ISIS?

Alebbini remained in jail on Friday, scheduled for a detention hearing on May 2 in U.S. District Court. His first preliminary hearing is set for May 11.

Most of the other 50 charged with involvement with the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, or IS and ISIL, are also awaiting trial, according to data gathered by the Program on Extremism at at George Washington University.

Some wanted for their crimes live overseas and “are charged in absentia,” Hughes added.

The five arrests in Ohio don’t include two notable incidents. Abdul Razak Ali Artan was fatally shot during an attack last November with a car and a knife at a parking garage at The Ohio State University. Mohammed Barry was fatally shot after attacking customers and police at a Columbus restaurant in February.

Of those charged, 44 percent were accused of attempting to travel or successfully traveled abroad, while 29 percent were accused of being involved in plots to carry out attacks on U.S. soil.

RELATED: 3 times southwest Ohio men were linked to terror plots

Alebbini is among 59 percent arrested from evidence gathered in part through a confidential informant or undercover agent.

Hughes said this technique provides the FBI “a window in” and enables them to gather evidence on the suspect, assess the seriousness and immediacy of the threat and determine the extent of his network (89 percent are male).

“Some FBI agents describe it as a controlled explosion,” Hughes said.

While noting the data represents a small number of people, Hughes said, “It is concerning nonetheless.”

SOCIAL MEDIA:Follow Lawrence Budd on Twitter

On Thursday, Abdul Shahid, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Dayton, said he hoped to use the local case to increase public awareness of Muslim teachings.

“It is very frustrating, but looking at it from a global point of view, this gives me an opportunity to explain about Islam, and it’s beautiful teachings, and it creates a need for people to hear about this,” he said at the Fazl-i-Umar Mosque in Dayton. “This is not the best way to go about it, but unfortunately this is the need of the time.”

While ISIS resorts to violent means, Shahid said devout Muslims are peaceful, law-abiding people.

“That is what Islam gives us, an opportunity to live it in our lives, to be able to be successful, not only be successful, but be productive citizens of humanity, productive citizens of our country and be helpful, not hurtful as ISIS has been presenting.”

WHIO-TV Reporter Natalie Jovonovich contributed to this report.

Huber Heights voters to consider changes to charter

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017 @ 7:00 PM


            Huber Heights voters will consider charter amendments Tuesday, May 2, in the primary election. WILL GARBE / STAFF

Huber Heights residents will face eight charter amendment issues on Tuesday’s primary election ballot.

The changes are proposed, officials said, to increase overall efficiency in the city government. They’re also intended to bring the city’s governing document up-to-date with current practices. None of the proposed changes increase taxes or fees to the city, officials said.

MORE: 3 seek to be next Huber Heights mayor

The changes are due to the charter review commission, which began its work last April and dissolved in December. The first round of changes were put before voters in November.

A majority yes votes passes an issue.

Issues 4 and 10

Issues 4 and 10 are separate issues dealing with removal of city officials, specifically volunteer board and commission members and elected officials. The current charter makes removing volunteer board and commission members as difficult as removing city council members.

“It’s a pretty high bar for removal,” said City Council Clerk Tony Rodgers while introducing the changes. “The thought was with council appointing the boards and commissions, there should be a more streamlined process.”

MORE: Huber Heights candidates speak out on social media fights

Issue 4 would strike board and commission members from the current removal procedures, while Issue 10 establishes a new charter section addressing removal of those volunteer members.

Issue 10 would give city council ability to remove board and commission members for a lack of qualifications, incompetency, misconduct or neglect of duty. It would also provide those board members with written notification of the removal and an opportunity to be heard at a regular council meeting.

Issue 4 would additionally state council members could be removed for “violation of any expressed provision of the charter.” The language is recommended by the city attorney following a lawsuit blocking the city of Riverside’s council from removing one of its own council members.

MORE: Huber council candidates share vision for city

While the city attorney recommends adoption, Mayor Tom McMasters disagrees with the changes in Issues 4 and 10.

“That’s kind of an open way to phrase things,” he said during deliberation among council. “If there is a specific section that needs to be called out, it should be” in the section detailing prohibited actions.

Other issues

Issue 5 would remove the option of city council publishing adopted ordinances and resolution in newspapers and five public places, and instead add the requirement the information be posted on the city website and three public places.

Issue 6 would require the mayor to provide written objections with a veto. The language would change the requirement for the mayor to return a veto in 10 days to the next regular meeting of council. The language allows council to reconsider the legislation no later than the next scheduled meeting. Council could later re-introduce similar legislation.

MORE: Dayton Daily News voter guide

Issue 7 strikes the residency requirement for the city manager. The Ohio Supreme Court in 2009 upheld a state law barring cities from enforcing residency rules for city employees.

Issue 8 removes language designating the city’s director of public safety as the enforcer of weights and measurements laws. The county auditor is tasked with enforcement of weights and measurements.

Issue 9 amends the charter section on schools. The section currently states the city does not have jurisdiction over the Huber Heights City Schools; the amendment would add Bethel School District to the charter.

MORE: Election Day delays Huber Heights meeting

Issue 11 deals with citizen referendums. Currently, a referendum petition filed with the clerk of council on a specific resolution or ordinance would suspend the legislation from taking effect. Voters changed the charter in November 2016 to make resolutions effective immediately after passage. Issue 11, if passed, would reflect the 2016 change by removing resolutions from the referendum process. Ordinances could still be halted by citizen referendum.