CHAGRIN FALLS – Mark Piunno went before village council Monday “begging” for help to resolve structural problems to his property.
Mr. Piunno and brother Daniel own a multi-family rental home west of the River Walk condominiums. That development, they claim, is the cause of their cracking foundation.
While River Walk developer Robert Vitt plans to build a retaining wall at the west end of the development, Mr. Piunno said it does not go far enough to protect his property. He told council members he wants their help in having the wall configured in a way that will stop further slippage to his building.
According to Mr. Piunno, he and his brother spent nearly $30,000 underpinning their building, which stopped shifting south toward the street. In January, they noticed a crack in the corner of the building, indicating it’s moving east toward the River Walk development.
“We had a beautiful piece of property before, and we don’t want to sell. We want a structure up there that will be standing at the end of our loan, and maybe we can have what we once had,” he said. “I am begging you to help me out and make this gentleman (Mr. Vitt) do what’s right. ... Make him build the right kind of wall.”
As planned, the retaining wall stops short of the corner of the property where the foundation crack is at, Mr. Piunno said. He requested the wall extend south to help support his building.
Mr. Vitt, in the audience, said his engineer has said “we can only contain what is on my site” and that the slip plain goes beyond property lines, under the Piunnos’ building and all the way to Bentleyville Road.
Mr. Piunno said it was nothing he or his brother did to their property to create the problem in which he holds the village responsible.
“You guys technically started it” when the village approved the development, he said. “Now we need assurance the retaining wall will work. ... We don’t want to fight you, sue you or go to Channel 3.”
Council President Steven Patton told Mr. Piunno that he doesn’t agree that council is at fault. In fact, council was assured the hill will be more stable after the wall is built than before construction began.
This is not Mr. Piunno’s first time before a village board. He said response to his plea before the zoning appeals board showed “they do not understand the severity of the situation,” he told council.
The board recommended variances so Mr. Vitt could build out his development to include three more single-family condos. The decision to support the variances was based on assurances the retaining wall is in the right location. Council approved the variances earlier this month.
The approval process does not end there. The village engineer and geotechnical engineering consults must sign off on the retaining wall design and location before it can be built.
Mr. Vitt told council his engineers are about four weeks away from completing a design. If the village approves the plans, the wall can be constructed in July.