April 18, 2014

Intermittent clouds

Auction house challenge continues

HOMER TWP. — Frederick W. Owen, owner of Homerville Produce Auction, hasn’t given up the fight to shut down a competitor.

Owen, who lost an appeal to the Homer Township Zoning Appeals Board against County Line Produce Auction last month, is challenging the board’s decision in Medina County Common Pleas Court.

County Line Produce Action, at Jeffery Road and state Route 301, was built in little more than a weekend in May by hundreds of Amish men.

Owen’s business, Homerville Wholesale Produce Auction, 9430 Spencer Road (Route 301), is less than two miles away.

Owen filed his appeal last week, claiming the board’s decision was “unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable and/or unsupported” by the evidence.

The zoning appeal DeFelice won focused on township Zoning Inspector Nancy Lilly granting an “agricultural exemption” to County Line in April.

According to Ohio Revised Code, the exemption frees operators of farm markets from needing building permits as long as at least half “of the gross income received from the market is derived from produce raised on farms owned or operated by the market operator in a normal crop year.”

Owen’s attorney said at the May 30 appeals hearing that the two produce auctions are similar businesses, but Lilly denied the same exemption to Owen two decades ago.

Lilly said she didn’t recall denying Owen’s request.

County Line’s owner said at the hearing that the auctions are different because the produce growers — almost exclusively Amish families — sign lease agreements and become “operators.”

Nick DeFelice, one of three owners of County Line, dismissed Owen’s appeal as sour grapes.

“There’s one person in the township upset about this, and it just happens to be a guy with a similar business,” DeFelice said. “Anybody in America has the right to free enterprise. This is getting to be harassment.”

Owen’s attorney, Trina Devanney, said no hearing has been scheduled in the case.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.

  • B.s

    Its not harassment when all Mr. Owen is trying to do is save his business.Also Nick DeFelice is a piece of work because he worked for Mr.Owen for almost 7 yrs. He left and took Mr. Owens employees with him.In my eyes he is a snake. Another thing that contract he makes the Amish sign is a bunch of legal stuff that they really don’t understand so that’s not fair to them. Making the Amish responsible for everything is totally wrong.Mr. DeFelice is making it so him and his partners aren’t liable for anything. So if someone gets hurt guess what the Amish are liable not the owners of the County Line Auction. All this is because Mr. Owens couldn’t make a few cosmetic changes.Mr. Owens has bent over backwards to help the Amish anyway he could.But of coarse no one hears that.

  • Homer Twp resident

    According to Mr.Owens conflicting statements at the appeal hearing, this whole situation is about money and saving his business. Fortunately we do live in a country where there is competition in all forms of business. Monopolies are illegal and if Mr. Owen had his way that is exactly what Homer Twp would have…a produce auction monopoly. If all of the facts were made public, everyone would know that it was Mr. Owen who was taking advantage of the Amish and even insulted a group of them who approached him about necessary improvements, stating “I am smarter than all 15 of you put together” and I am the manager and will do what I want. Tell me why the Amish, who are a peaceful, hardworking group would leave a “perfectly good auction facility” to pursue their own? This is because they were treated unfairly and rudely and want to operate the auction under a more fair and professional situation. Mr. Owen has operated his auction for 17 years so his claim that he was denied a permit is irrelevant. He was obviously granted whatever was necessary at that time to build and operate his business so there should be no reason for his complaining. Mr. Owens needs to accept the fact that if he had run his auction business fairly and appropriately this whole situation could have been avoided..he really only has himself to blame..not the Amish or Homer Twp officials.

  • Dismayed

    I agree with you that all the facts should come out.As far as Mr. Owen treating the Amish unfairly,please explain how that is true!I know for a fact that Mr.Owen went above and beyond to make sure that they were taken care of. He made sure that his crew was fed after each and every auction at his expense. He made sure that each and every grower that brought produce to the auction was paid even if the buyers check bounced.He put together a fund raiser when one of his crew was killed in an accident so that the widow and her children had an income. He took Amish to the hospital when they were sick.I could go on and on but it would fall on deaf ears. Mr. DeFelice saw an opportunity to make money and he took it. If there was no benefit to him there probably wouldn’t be a new auction. Mr. Owen started his auction to benefit the Amish community & he started it without any other business to steal from. Can Mr. DeFelice really be proud of the fact that he is ruining Mr. Owen by taking what he started?All because someone says that Mr. Owen was rude to them.What would you do if you were in his shoes surrounded by 15 angry Amish men. Would you be polite. Everyone involved in destroying a business that has benefited the community for many years is benefiting financially,so they think.I guess in the end they will have to decide if it was worth it.For me my self respect outweighs my need for financial gain,because in the end you can’t take your financial gain with you. Again put yourself in Mr. Owen’s shoes,what would you do? And please refrain from putting the blame on Mr. Owen, when everyone knows that greed is the blame for this situation.If everyone didn’t think that they would be making more money we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now!

  • Neighboring Township Resident

    Does everyone remember the history of the USA? Settlers from England left for the Americas to find new lives for their families. After time spent working and building a life in America, the former settlers from England got tired of the antics of King George and declared independence from England. Does this sound familiar? Maybe if Mr. Owen ran an “up and up” establishment, the Amish and buyers would be still frequenting his business? It seems to me that people will choose to go where they feel the most secure and respected. No one is holding a gun to any person’s head that goes to County Line Produce Auction. They go to the CLPA because they feel comfortable and it benefits them in more ways than just financal reward. It seems to me if the growers and buyers benefited like Mr. Owen’s thinks they did at his auction, no one would have left. I think there is a lot more to the story of how everyone was treated that caused the separation of patronage to the Homerville Produce Auction. Think about it!!! No one keeps going back to the same restaurant when they get bad service time after time after time. Life is short so each and everyone should make the best of it! Let things pass on to the new if that is the better option for all…..

  • Whatever

    The reason that everyone is going to the new auction is because it is new!Everyone likes to try new things,that doesn’t mean they will stay.Time will tell!Just keep something in mind.The new auction is being supported by the Amish bishop because he is a buyer for Heinen’s and feels that a new auction will benefit him.The minute that changes the new auction will loose growers.That is why Mr. Owen is in the situation that he is in now.The Amish will not go against their Bishop. It is known that the Bishop attended all of the meetings pertaining to the new auction and that he actually helped to build it.It is also known that he approached many of Mr. Owen’s buyers about coming to the new auction.,even though he looked Mr. Owen in the eyes and told him he had nothing to do with the new auction.More deceit!!So please get off your high horse and realize that the new auction owners could very well be in Mr. Owens situation at any time. Again time will tell.If and when the table turns I hope to ask the new auction owners how it feels,maybe they’ll just pass it on,. I guess time will tell!!

  • Me and My Amish Shadow

    The comments and articles that I have been reading from mcole54 looks like she does not know all the facts either. I think mcole54 should do the same as she tells other people to do in a few comments. It said that Nick DeFelice took Fred Owenu2019s employees with him. The fact is the Amish committee went and told Nick DeFelice of their problem and asked him if he would want to help them. It also said that Nick worked for Fred for 7 years and also in another comment it said 10 years. The fact is Nick worked for Fred for about 6 years. And why is Fred fighting for his u201cbreak-evenu201d business by hiring a lawyer if he does not have any money to upgrade his auction grounds? How can Fred afford this? And also when the Amish committee approached Fred about the upgrades that needed to be done, they asked him if the money is the problem from keeping this from being done? Fred said no he has good credit at the bank and he can borrow the money from the bank. Then why did Fred not just solve the problem and make the upgrades? Instead Fred did make a little upgrade by graveling the driveway with a wheelbarrow and shovel while the skid steer was sitting in the barn in running condition. And the neighbor came over with a tractor and frontend loader to offer help and Fred refused it. In my view Melody Cole is making Fred Owen look worse every time she writes a comment. In my opinion, she does not know half of the facts from the Homerville Auction or the County Line Auction. I know of a person that has an attitude and is a pro in using it and a lot of people discourage that. I have been collecting all the letters and comments that I can get concerning the two produce auctions and it looks to me like the comment writer is good at writing a little about fiction so it looks like Melody has a good side too. I have heard Melody does not last long in her u201ccausesu201d and I think her responsive writing skills concerning the produce auctions might be the longest u201ccauseu201d she lasted at yet. I could write more about the true facts as they happened with the produce auction saga. I do believe in the end, the best will succeed. P.S. – Fred Owen has a good side and a bad side just like all the other people on earth.

  • Whatever

    The fact is I don’t consider friendship a cause and unlike some people the only benefit I have received from this whole situation is finding out who my true friends are.I have only written about what I have been told or seen. It’s funny how when someone reaps benefit from knowing you how good a friend they consider you, but when that friendship doesn’t benefit them anymore they will turn their back on you in an instant.Again I hope turning their backs on Fred is worth it in the end and please tell John that I would appreciate it if he would keep his opinions to himself.I will not disparage him and I would appreciate the same courtesy. And as far as the best succeeding ,you seem to regard yourself very highly.I guess in the end we all will answer to our maker.That is if you even believe in that kind of thing!!

  • You reap what you sow!!!!!

    I hear KARMA Knocking at the new auctions door! It’s not fun is it.LOL