Heather Beyer
Ohio.com correspondent

This year, auto dealer Ron Marhofer gets the green light from city council to expand his dealership into Thorndale Avenue, a school board member sues his colleagues, again, and a black bear was spotted twice roaming through neighborhoods.

Here is a list of the top five stories of 2013 in Stow as selected by Stow.Ohio.com correspondent Heather Beyer:

Marhofer wins bid to expand his dealership in Stow

After 18 months of debate and negotiations, City Council approved a rezoning request from Marhofer to expand his dealership into Thorndale Avenue, a neighborhood that lies adjacent to the dealership.

Marhofer asked the city for a zoning change in order to renovate his offices and showroom at Darrow and Kent roads to meet General Motors standards. The project is estimated to cost $5 million and will take away 70 existing parking spaces.

Council approved to change the zoning on 1.3 acres on Thorndale Avenue from residential to commercial so Marhofer can replace the lost parking spots.

School board member sues panel, again

For the second time in less than a year, school board member Rod Armstrong filed a lawsuit against his colleagues for allegedly failing to follow its own rules and “obstructing” him from fulfilling his fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers.

School officials have denounced Armstrong’s lawsuits as a “preferred method of communication” that cost the district money.

District continues to mull over outsourcing busing

Local bus drivers voiced concerns about the administration’s possible decision to outsource bussing.

The district sent a letter in June, the same month that the bus driver's contract expired, to the labor relations consultant with the Ohio Education Association indicating it was considering hiring a private company for the transportation of students beginning with the 2013-14 school year.

The letter to the OEA says the board “intends to exercise its right ... to outsource its transportation services.” District officials say Ohio law allows the move for “reasons of economy and efficiency.”

Bus drivers have been behind the wheel since start of the school year, without a negotiated contract.

Fight over levy campaign fees wages in court

A Franklin County judge ruled in September that the Stow-Munroe Falls City School levy committee violated the Ohio Revised Code by not reporting the payment of legal fees by the district.

Common Pleas Judge David W. Fais determined that the payment of $20,000 for legal services in 2009 was an in-kind contribution by the district and should have been reported in the campaign finance statement.

The suit filed in June 2011 by Armstrong charged that the board used tax dollars to pay attorney fees for the levy committee in violation of state law.

Voters reject a proposed tax increase to hire additional police

In November, voters overwhelmingly shot down a proposal to increase the city's income tax to 2.25 percent.

The revenue generated by the .25 percent hike would have been used to hire additional police officers. Nearly 68 percent of residents rejected the measure.

The increase would have produced an additional $1.7 million in revenue, which city officials said would have been used to hire 11 police officers and strengthen its police department.

Honorable mention: Black bear sighted twice roaming local neighborhoods

A black bear was spotted roaming through two Stow neighborhoods in early June.

The bear was sighted in the Heather Hills area west of Darrow Road (state Route 91) and south of Arndale Road, said Linda Nahrstedt, director of Stow Parks and Recreation.

Another sighting was made near condominiums off Berkshire Road.