Articles Posted in Ohio Supreme Court

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Plaintiffs purchased a 33,000-square-foot residential lot in 1974 that was adjacent to another lot owned by Plaintiffs upon which they had built their residence. In 2004, the village of Ottowa Hills denied Plaintiffs' request for a variance seeking to have the vacant lot declared a "buildable" lot because the zoning code at that time included a requirement that no structure could be built on a lot smaller than 35,000 square feet. This new size restriction was enacted in 1978. At the time Plaintiffs purchased the lot, the minimum buildable lot size was 15,000 square feet. Plaintiffs unsuccessfully appealed the village's decision to the Ottawa Hills Zoning Commission. The trial court upheld the Commission's decision, concluding that there was no regulatory taking. The court of appeals reversed. On remand, the trial court determined that a taking had not occurred because Plaintiffs had not taken any affirmative steps to build a house on the lot. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that under the analysis that is applicable to determining whether a variance should have been granted in this case, the appropriate result would have been to grant the variance. Remanded. View "Boice v. Village of Ottawa Hills" on Justia Law

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Youngstown Belt Railway Company entered into a purchase agreement with Total Waste Logistics of Girard for the purchase of Mosier Yard, which the railway owned. The sale was never consummated, and later the city of Girard commenced an appropriation action to appropriate a portion of Mosier Yard. The trial court held that the city's appropriation proceedings were preempted by the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act (ICCTA). On remand, the trial court held that it would be inappropriate to consider the railway's potential sale to Total Waste in the preemption analysis but determined that the railway's use of a portion of the appropriated land for storage caused the city's action to be preempted by the ICCTA. The appellate court affirmed, although on different grounds. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the city's proposed eminent-domain action against the undeveloped portion of the railway's property, which did not contain any tracks or rights-of-way and did not have any concrete projected use that would constitute rail transportation by a rail carrier, was not preempted under the ICCTA. View "Girard v. Youngstown Belt Ry. Co." on Justia Law

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The City of Reynoldsburg was a municipal corporation governed by a charter. Intervening appellee, Columbus Southern Power Company (CSP), was a public utility and provided electric power to the City and its residents. At issue in this case was whether the City or CSP bore the cost to relocate overhead power lines underground. Specifically, the City sought a ruling that its right-of-way ordinance requiring all overhead power lines to be relocated underground at the sole cost of the public utility took precedence over CSP's commission-approved tariff, which provided that municipalities shall pay the costs whenever they required CSP to relocate overhead electrical distribution lines underground, in this particular aspect. The City filed a complaint with the Public Utilities Commission, contending that its ordinance superseded CSP's tariff and that the tariff was unjust, unreasonable, and unlawful. The commission found in favor of CSP. The Supreme Court affirmed the commission's orders, holding that the commission correctly found that the City was required to pay CSP's entire costs for relocating the power lines underground. View "In re Complaint of Reynoldsburg " on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was whether a private sanitary landfill is a public utility that is exempt from township zoning regulations pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code. 519.211. The trial court concluded that the private landfill was a public utility not subject to the zoning restrictions of the township. The court of appeals held that the landfill was entitled to the trial court's declaration that it was a public utility for purposes of section 519.211. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a privately owned sanitary landfill cannot be a common-law public utility exempt from township zoning when there is no public regulation or oversight of its rates and charges, no statutory or regulatory requirement that all solid waste delivered to the landfill be accepted for disposal, and no right of the public to demand and receive its services; and (2) thus, the appellate court erred in affirming the trial court's declaration that the landfill was a public utility for purposes of section 519.211. Remanded. View "Rumpke Sanitary Landfill, Inc. v. Colerain Twp." on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether Hamilton Township, a limited-home-rule township, was authorized under Ohio law to impose its system of impact fees upon applicants for zoning certificates for new construction or redevelopment within its unincorporated areas. Appellants, several development companies, brought this action against Appellees, the Township and its trustees, seeking a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and damages, alleging that the impact fees were contrary to Ohio law and were unconstitutional. The trial court granted summary judgment for the Township, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the impact fees charged by the Township in this case constituted taxes; and (2) since those taxes were not authorized by general law, the Township was unauthorized to impose them pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code 504.04(A)(1). View "Drees Co. v. Hamilton Twp." on Justia Law

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Robert Clifton owned property contiguous to property owned by J&M Precision Machining. The Village of Blanchester annexed J&M's parcel and rezoned the entire parcel for general industrial use. Clifton filed a complaint alleging that the rezoning of J&M's property resulted in a regulatory taking of his property without just compensation. The trial court granted summary judgment to the Village. The court of appeals reversed and remanded in part after finding that the trial court had failed to inquire as to whether the rezoning resulted in a partial taking. On remand, the trial court granted summary judgment to the Village, finding that Clifton had no standing to bring a taking claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was an insufficient nexus between the rezoning of J&M's property and the alleged diminution in value of Clifton's adjacent property to indicate that Clifton was a proper party to bring a regulatory-taking claim; and (2) furthermore, because Clifton's property was outside the Village limits, the Village had no authority to appropriate his property for an alleged regulatory taking, and therefore, Clifton had no redressable claim against the Village for a regulatory taking. View "Clifton v. Blanchester" on Justia Law

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The Madison County Board of Commissioners filed an appropriation action against Greg and Marcia Bell. The common pleas court entered judgment in favor of the Board. The court of appeals affirmed. The Bells then filed a civil action against various Defendants, including the Board and the common pleas court judge. The common pleas court entered judgment in favor of Defendants. The court of appeals affirmed. Greg Bell subsequently sought a writ of prohibition to prevent the circuit court judge that presided over the earlier action, a magistrate, and certain attorneys and entities, from proceeding in the case. The court of appeals denied Bell's request. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Bell could prove no set of facts entitling him to the requested writ of prohibition. View "State ex rel. Bell v. Court of Common Pleas (Pfeiffer)" on Justia Law

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Stanley and Kathryn Wasserman requested a writ of mandamus to compel the city and its mayor to commence an appropriation action to determine whether a taking occurred when the city's actions when constructing a reservoir on the Wasserman's property constituted a taking and how much compensation, if any, was due to the Wassermans. The court of appeals granted the writ. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals erred in granting the a writ of mandamus to compel the city and its mayor to commence an appropriation proceeding when the court had not yet determined that the Wassermans' property had been taken by the city. Remanded. View "State ex rel. Wasserman v. Fremont" on Justia Law

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Relators, owners of land located downstream from the western spillway of Grand Lake St. Marys, petitioned for a writ of mandamus to compel Respondents, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and its director, to initiate appropriation proceedings for the physical taking of their property resulting from flooding caused by a spillway constructed by Respondents and the state's lake-level-management practices. Respondents contended that Relators' claim was time-barred by Ohio Rev. Code 2305.09(E). The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding (1) based on the Court’s precedent, Relators’ mandamus claim was not barred by the four-year statute of limitations in R.C. 2305.09(E) because Respondents’ ongoing control tolled the running of the limitations period; (2) relators in mandamus cases must prove their entitlement to the writ by clear and convincing evidence; and (3) Relators in this case established by clear and convincing evidence that Respondents, by their actions, effected a taking of at least some of Relators' property. View "State ex rel. Doner v. Zody" on Justia Law

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The owner of certain property improved with a hotel challenged a valuation of its property, seeking a reduction of true value. The School District filed a countercomplaint, seeking to retain the auditor's valuation. The County Board of Revision (BOR) assigned a reduced value to the property. The Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) affirmed and adopted the BOR's reduced valuation. The School Board appealed, contending that the BTA erred by according deference to the BOR's decision rather than relying on its own independent weighing of the evidence. The Supreme Court agreed and vacated the BTA's decision, holding that the BTA unlawfully accorded a presumption of validity to the BOR's determination of value. Remanded so that the BTA could determine whether there was sufficient evidence to permit it to perform an independent valuation of the property.