This week’s burning question is: Who attempted to murder Chagrin Falls’ zoning code, what was the motive and why was it not discovered until the hit was about to go down?

An explanation is in order. An “overhaul” of the code has been underway for quite some time. It was to have been a “clean-up” of typographical errors, inconsistencies in language and definition of terms.

But when it came time for council to vote on these minor fixes, it was discovered there were two changes the village Planning and Zoning Commission had already considered and rejected, and one new zoning requirement never discussed publicly by anyone including the commission and two others we’ll get to in a minute.

The first of the two changes covers the size and placement of backyard play equipment. The rules were so limiting they would be an impossible fit for small lots. Psssst . . . most Chagrin Falls lots are small. Parents voiced a definitive “no” to the change and the issue was dropped, or so they thought.

Here’s the second change (and again, we ask, who done it?) plotted to require restaurant owners install expensive ($50,000 to $80,000) odor abatement equipment when they build new eateries or remodel existing ones.

It’s a growth killer, the restaurateurs say, and the cost would discourage existing restaurant owners from remodeling. They get complaints about ambient noise but never the aroma of food?

Third, anyone have a clue who decided to rezone the Spillway property without notifying the owners? The current designation has been available for mixed-use commercial and/or residential development ever since voters said yes to the multi-layered zoning 10 years ago.

The plot thickened when it was discovered the change was written in without passing it through the commission or notifying the property owners.

Spillway owners complained that all residential zoning would remove an option and make the property even more difficult to sell, thus devaluing it. And, they pointed out, aren’t the voters supposed to decide since it was the voters who were the original deciders?

Fourth and final victims of our mystery are those who own riverside property and which – again without notice – had their shoreline changed from residential to parks.

Residents said the word parks means what it says and they don’t want strangers recreating in their backyard.

It was explained the change was meant to unify zoning for the water touching length of the river but had no material effect on residential property.

Residents shrugged their collective shoulders and suggested the village leave it alone and ask next time they are tempted to fiddle with their residential zoning.

Except for this last example, no one has owned up to who penned the changes, what was their motive or why those most affected by the changes were not invited in to discuss them.

Here’s an idea. Each September, the weekend after the Labor Day holiday, the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre stages a two-act fundraiser called “Murder by the Falls,” an audience participation tongue in cheek “whodunit.”

The playwrights often gear the plot and grisly gaiety to Chagrin Falls goings on. There are insider references and a few groan-producing jokes. The actors are CVLT regulars along with prominent locals who take walk-on parts.

Here’s an idea for whoever pens the script this year. Why not call it “Murder by the Falls: A Death in Chagrin?”

Everyone in town could be suspect; the river people, restaurant owners, Spillway voters and kids deprived of a backyard swing set.

And so the mystery deepens and the investigation continues. They say all politics are local. That’s why we’re betting Donald Trump is the perpetrator.

A veteran reporter and columnist, Barbara Christian has been covering Chagrin Falls since 1967 and is currently responsible for Chagrin Falls village events, government and school board news along with her weekly column "Window on Main Street."

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