Crown Point Parkway Neighbors Face Off Over Fireworks, Christmas Display
No decision yet in court case
Two next-door neighbors on Crown Point Parkway argued their cases in Berea Municipal Court Wednesday over a Christmas display and a lighting ceremony with fireworks on the cul-de-sac street.
Kevin Roberts is seeking damages and asking that the backyard fireworks show be shut down permanently.
"I want to send a clear message that this (fireworks display) is illegal and never to do it again," Roberts said.
Dan Hoag, who organizes the lighting display and sets off the fireworks in his yard, said the lawsuit is the result of a "vendetta" Roberts has against his neighbors.
"Regardless of the fireworks, we're not going to stop decorating," Hoag said.
Magistrate Lawrence G. Sheehe Jr., who heard the case in Small Claims Court, did not issue a ruling on Wednesday, saying he would review the facts and render a decision soon.
"Clearly, this (dispute) hurt," he told both men. "It hurt everyone involved."
Crown Point Parkway has been featured in local and national news for its street-long lighting display. The lights and yard decorations draw thousands of visitors to the cul-de-sac each holiday season.
Hoag, the main organizer of the display for the last 20 years, launches the season with a lighting ceremony, including a seven-minute fireworks show, on Thanksgiving evening.
Between 600 and 800 people gather on the street, which is blocked off with permission from Strongsville officials.
Roberts is seeking $3,000 from Hoag, alleging the fireworks have damaged his property and that his sister, Cheryl, was harassed and heckled when she tried to drive through the crowd two years ago.
"I went as slow as possible . . . through the crowd," Cheryl Roberts testified. "People were swearing at me, banging on my car."
The ordeal upset her and her dog, she said.
Kevin Roberts also said he got an estimate of $305 from his insurance company to clean debris from the fireworks from his gutters, roof, lawn and car.
And he said a permit to discharge fireworks was never issued.
Hoag argued that Cheryl Roberts "deliberately" drove through the crowd of people, and neighbor Dan Paliwoda testified that he witnessed no heckling.
"I assisted in her trying to get out (of the driveway)," Paliwoda said.
Roberts' other sister, Donna Medlin, testified on Hoag's behalf, saying her brother vowed to live in the Crown Point Parkway house, which originally belonged to their father, for the rest of his life "just so he can make the neighbors' lives as miserable as possible."
Kevin Roberts acknowledged that is true.
"They made my father's life miserable. I want it to stop, or his (Hoag's) life, I want to be miserable too," Roberts said.
Hoag said he and Roberts used to be friends, and that Roberts helped wire the street for the lighting display.
But Roberts' late father apparently began to dislike the lights and the crowds, to the point he was charged with cutting Hoag's electrical wires in about 2002.
Hoag said the late Mayor Walter Ehrnfelt finally called in the elder Roberts and warned him he would be cited if he didn't stop calling police to report noise, crowds and other issues on the street.
Hoag said he got verbal permission from Mayor Tom Perciak on Nov. 15 to set off fireworks this past Thanksgiving.
And he said he would have gladly cleaned up debris from Roberts' yard if he'd known it was a problem.
"I'd write him a check tomorrow for $300," Hoag told the magistrate. "There's no reason to go through all this."
Sheehe said he thinks it is "wonderful" that the residents on the street take donations from visitors and give them to a local charity or needy family, including more than $4,000 last month to the family of a Parma boy fighting a brain tumor.
He said he would review the testmony and evidence both men entered and make a decision soon.