Mill Creek Park lawyer argues eminent domain law for bike path may be illegal

Local News

CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – The lawyer for Mill Creek MetroParks says the law preventing the park district from using eminent domain for a bike trail may be illegal and unconstitutional.

Attorney Liz Farbman made it clear at Monday evening’s meeting of the MetroParks Board of Commissioners that it’s an issue they plan on fighting in court.

After breaking into executive session, the board presumably talked about fighting the recent decision by the Ohio Legislature to not allow eminent domain to extend the MetroParks’ bike trail six miles from Western Reserve Road to the Columbiana County line.

“We ultimately believe it’s unenforceable and that we’ll prevail and that there are issues with regards to constitutionality, and all of those arguments will be presented in our legal briefs… We ultimately think that the courts will believe that it is not enforceable,” Farbman said.

Farbman says three landowners, whose land the MetroParks was trying to take by eminent domain, have asked the court to dismiss their lawsuits since eminent domain cannot be used. The MetroParks’ response is due by August 6.

“We’ll be making all of the thorough arguments. Therewith reliance upon case law and statutes, and precisely on the Constitution itself,” Farbman said.

Farbman says she could see the issue ending up before the Ohio Supreme Court.

“The way that the budget amendment was presented was not written in a way to make it enforceable against the proceeding that are currently filed. These cases were filed in 2018 and 2019 so they are current cases,” Farbman said.

We asked Farbman if it was written specifically for Mill Creek MetroParks.

“It seems as though it was and we don’t believe it will be constitutional based on that, because of the specificity,” Farbman said.

Farbman advised the Mill Creek MetroParks Board not to make any comments about any pending litigation associated with extending the bike trail.

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