Aurora -- The Ohio Elections Commission has dismissed a complaint filed by resident George Heisler regarding what he alleged was misleading information distributed prior to a 2011 ballot issue in which voters OK'd the rezoning of 6.7 acres of former Aurora Golf Club property.
"From our perspective, we've made a determination and believe it [the complaint] is resolved," said Philip C. Richter, executive director and staff attorney for the Ohio Elections Commission, who said the complaint was dismissed because it was not filed within the allowed time frame.
Heisler filed his original complaint with the OEC on June 17, 2012, against Aurora Recreation LLC, which was registered to previous Aurora Golf Club primary partner Hunter Banbury.
Heisler claimed Aurora Recreation entities "clearly made false and misleading public statements" regarding the golf club property rezoning issue on the May 2011 primary election ballot.
Banbury did not respond to the Advocate's request for a comment.
Voters approved the rezoning of the parcel, which included the clubhouse and outdoor pool area, from R-2 residential to C-1 commercial.
"It is clear to me this whole deal stinks to high heaven," Heisler said, adding he believes the Ohio Elections Commission "did the citizens of Aurora wrong with its ruling of not holding the parties to task for their clear concealment in the case."
Richter wrote to Heisler on June 20 -- in what he called "a rejection letter" -- that he believes there was no "fraud, concealment or misrepresentation," as Heisler had claimed.
"In order to substantiate your assertion of such [claims], you indicated that certain documents were only discovered by you in February and March [of 2013]," Richter wrote.
"However, it would appear that the documents on which you rely were public documents available for public inspection from the time they were filed. These documents were filed well prior to the date of the  election. The fact that you only recently discovered these public documents is not sufficient."
Richter told the Aurora Advocate he gave Heisler the opportunity to resubmit his complaint, "which he did." But on Aug. 22, Richter said the complaint was dismissed by the OEC's probable cause panel.
"THE COMMISSION determined the allegations were beyond the two-year statute of limitations, and we dismissed it for that reason," Richter said.
According to an OEC document, a complaint must be filed within two years after the occurrence of the act that is the subject of the complaint, or May 2011 in this case.
Earlier this year, the Ohio EPA released $4.7 million so the city could acquire 194 acres of the former golf course, which did not include the 6.7 acres which were rezoned in 2011. The acquisition was part of a project to improve the quality of a 1-mile stretch of the Aurora branch of the Chagrin River.
The EPA-city deal has resulted in Heisler and a handful of other Aurorans who live near the former golf course filing an appeal with the state's Environmental Review Appeals Commission, claiming the EPA's transaction was "unlawful and unreasonable," and that the city sought the land "to pursue a hidden agenda."
The appeal alleges the "hidden agenda," in part, includes the operation of a party center / funeral home on the 6.7 acres which was rezoned and retained by Aurora Recreation LLC before being sold to another party.
Asked about a hidden agenda earlier this year, former Mayor Lynn McGill said, "That's laughable. Anything like that is completely untrue. Our only agenda was, we wanted to preserve the land and do the restoration work. If we could secure the land for bike and walking paths and restore the land, that's what we wanted to do. The Ohio EPA agreed it was a good application, and they funded it fully."
The EPA granted the $4.7 million for the city to acquire the golf course land late in 2012, with the money coming from the Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program. The agreement requires that the land revert to a natural state, with some walking paths allowed to remain.
An ERAC spokesman told the Advocate the commission is waiting on a joint status report from the appellants and the city.
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Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC