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Mayor: City can't use eminent domain for economic use

By APRIL HELMS Reporter Published: April 5, 2017 12:00 AM

TWINSBURG -- Responding to circulating rumors on social media that the city will be seizing several surrounding buildings and old homes through eminent domain proceedings if the Old School is torn down, Mayor Ted Yates said this cannot legally happen.

Council unanimously voted to obtain estimates for razing the Old School, vacant since 2012, in favor of downtown redevelopment plans, earlier in March. If the structure is demolished, city officials have said that the land could be sold to developers.

"If you do a little bit of research on eminent domain law, 2006's Norwood-Horney was a huge case that now prohibits the taking of property for economic development purposes," Yates said. "That should jump out of your Google screen if you do any kind of research on the subject."

According to information at the Supreme Court of Ohio website, the 2006 Norwood v. Horney case concerned the city of Norwood's eminent domain action against several homeowners who declined buyout offers from a developer who wanted to turn a 10-acre area into a development with apartments, retail and office businesses. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled 7-0 against the eminent domain action by the city.

At City Council's March 28 meeting, Kellie Brown, who owns properties in Twinsburg near the Old School and post office, along with her husband and daughter, said a proponent of Saving the Old School recently posted the names, addresses and phone numbers of commercial tenants in those buildings on social media.

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The post suggested that "residents and non-residents contact these tenants and inform them that the city of Twinsburg would be taking their property through eminent domain and leveling the buildings," Brown said. "We feel this action is blatantly damaging to our family as well as our tenants."

"It's not going to happen. It's impossible to happen," Yates said.

Email: ahelms@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9423

Twitter: @twinsburgohio

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jace Apr 8, 2017 11:20 PM

I believe that the Mayor has left out "The rest of the Story". The Supreme Court ruling stated... "ECONOMIC BENEFIT ALONEwas insufficient to satisfy the eminent domain statute of the Ohio Constitutionof Ohio website, the 2006 Norwood v. Horney....and that the rest of this statute should remain in force."

The Mayor's comment: "this cannot legally happen." seems to imply that "Eminent Domain" is illegal when in fact it appears to be alive and well in the Ohio Revised Code,Chapter 163: APPROPRIATION OF PROPERTY.

Obviously, "Eminent Domain" is not necessary if a City or other Government entity has already negotiated a deal with property owners.