GREEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WKBN) – An appeals court decision filed Thursday could put the brakes on Mill Creek Metroparks’ expansion of the hike and bike trail in Green Township.
The Seventh District Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of property owner Diane Less, who has been fighting eminent domain of her property for the project, stating the MetroParks “abused its discretion in passing a resolution to go forward with the appropriation of the property…These matters are remanded to the trial court with instructions to enter summary judgment in favor of Less.”
“And that’s what this is really all about is property rights,” said Less.
The appeals court reversed a ruling from the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas and said that Mill Creek failed to have a statutorily authorized reason or purpose for the appropriation by eminent domain and that Less followed procedure when pleading her case.
“Well, basically a summary judgment from my lay person’s understanding means that their whole case is just wrong. The court finds all of our case correct and that our rights should be protected as property owners,” said Less.
The ruling orders that the matter be sent down to the lower courts with instructions to enter a summary judgment in favor of Less.
The $6 million bike trail expansion includes lengthening it by six miles along an abandoned railroad line and linking it with the Greenway Trail in Columbiana County.
Less wants the bike trail moved to have it run along Washingtonville Road, just east of where it is planned.
“This is a beautiful country road. It’s a lovely place to ride a bike,” said Less.
But MetroPark’s executive director Aaron Young previously said Washingtonville Road would be 10 times the cost and called its current condition unsafe.
“You think this will end up at the Supreme Court of the State of Ohio? I’ve been told it will. I’m not an attorney, but I’ve been told it will,” said Less.
Young said he is reviewing the ruling and doesn’t know at this time where the future of the bike path stands. He added that the attorney for the board is out of town at this time.