Liberty Township trustee Robert Mann apologized to Powell City Council last week for Liberty trustee Peggy Guzzo's role in an initiative petition to limit commercial building size along Sawmill Parkway in the city.

Liberty Township trustee Robert Mann apologized to Powell City Council last week for Liberty trustee Peggy Guzzo's role in an initiative petition to limit commercial building size along Sawmill Parkway in the city.

Mann referred to Powell's claims that the township violated an agreement between the city and township when Guzzo lobbied for the petition.

Powell council is in the process of repealing the amendment the petition led to (see related story on this page). Guzzo res-ponded the day after the meeting with an e-mail that said Mann's remarks were "an embarrassment."

Mann said he attended the meeting not in his official capacity, but as a resident to apologize for the money and time the city expended as a result of the citizen-led initiative petition.

Mann said Guzzo's public comments at Powell's P&Z commission meeting in February prompted him to speak to city council.

"I was astounded that a few days after mediation (between Powell and Liberty) to open my local newspaper and find out that Ms. Guzzo had appeared at your planning and zoning commission meeting to, again, advocate this 10,000 square foot limit," Mann said.

Powell adopted the petition into its zoning code last year to keep it from going to the ballot. City officials said it circumvented the standard process for zoning amendments, such as committee study, community input and lengthy public discussion on the pros and cons of the issues.

Liberty became involved in the issue when the city alleged that Liberty breached a cooperative economic development agreement (CEDA) between the two entities. The CEDA guides annexation into the city. The breach was caused by trustee Peggy Guzzo's involvement in the initiative petition, the city said.

In June 2007, Guzzo wrote and signed, as trustee, a press release announcing the initiative and the reactivation of a political action group called Citizens Action Protecting Greater Powell (CAPP). She also donated $420 of her own money to pay for an attorney, who advised the group on the initiative petition.

Guzzo has said she acted as a private citizen and lone trustee, helping people who approached her for help.

The zoning code in question, section 1147.16, limits any single retail use to no more than 10,000 square feet for a single user and 65,000 square feet for multiple users, all within one-half mile on either side of Sawmill Parkway.

Mann said the initiative petition was like a "bait and switch," because it was said to be a big-box ban but includes 10,000 square feet. City and Liberty zoning codes define "large retail" as at least 35,000 square feet.

"Being a lawyer and having done some consumer work ... it's like a bait and switch, being told you're getting one thing -- a big-box ban, which it isn't -- and the only way you can have it is if you also accept the 10,000-square-foot limit," Mann said. "It's unfair to the public, the city and its council. If somebody believes that the building size in Powell or the township should be limited to 10,000 square feet, then bring that as a standalone matter and let it rise or fall on its own merit."

Mann also said the city and township had 65,000 square-foot limits on large retail buildings that were passed in 2004. He said he did not understand why the initiative language included "multi-user," as large stores are single users.

City officials have said the initiative was born of a lack of knowledge of the city's big-box legislation that has been in place since 2004. Residents who developed and circulated the petition were upset about Powell's 2007 approval of plans for a Target store to be built in the Golf Village area.

The day after Mann's Powell appearance, Guzzo sent an e-mail to the media.

"It is unfortunate and an embarrassment to our community that my colleague(s) continually seek opportunities to publicly attack my hard work and due diligence at the expense of our residents," Guzzo said in the e-mail. "The Powell initiative was not mine, but rather residents of Powell who chose to exercise their constitutional right to place an issue on the ballot. I was asked to assist my constituents of Liberty Township, who are also residents of Powell, with the initiative process."