GIRARD, Ohio (WKBN) – A federal lawsuit claims the city of Girard failed to provide a permit application for a company wanting to build a billboard in the city.

The lawsuit was filed by Summit Locations and Huntington Outdoor. It claims in 2022, Summit requested permit applications for four billboards, but Mayor Jim Melfi and Zoning Coordinator Nancy Thomas refused to provide them. Summit put the request in writing in early 2023 but received no response.

“We’re going to stand our ground,” Girard Mayor Jim Melfi said. “I don’t want to label individuals, but whoever filed this lawsuit is somebody who doesn’t really care about the look of Girard. It’s for monetary gain.”

Melfi says the city adopted an ordinance 12 years ago banning new billboards from being built on U.S. Route 422 between Interstate 80 and the northernmost border of the old Trinity Steel property. Melfi says in the time since, there have been only a few inquiries about the possibility of putting a billboard in the less than two-mile stretch.

“Now we are being sued by a Gordan, Ohio company saying that we should permit billboards in this area,” Melfi said.

Billboards are allowed in other parts of the city, Melfi said. In fact, you can find one just beyond the prohibited area on U.S. Route 422.

WKBN 27 First News reached out to the attorneys representing Huntington Outdoor and Summit Locations for comment. At this point, we’ve yet to hear back.

“I think it’s frivolous. I think time will prove that when city council passes an ordinance and somebody want to challenge that, we’ll see it in court,” Melfi said.