Streetsboro denies zoning allegations against Sahbra Farms

By Bob Gaetjens | Gateway News Editor Published:

The city of Streetsboro has denied, via a legal response, allegations that the zoning of 290-acre Sahbra Farms at the corner of S.R. 14 and Diagonal Road is "unconstitutional."

Sahbra Farms, through their attorneys Jack Morrison and Thomas R. Houlihan of Amer Cunningham Co., made the allegations in a legal complaint against the city Jan. 24.

The response by Thomas Ted Yates, Thomas Reitz and Lisa M. Lahrmer of Christley, Herington & Pierce, representing the city, denies Sahbra Farms' claim that the zoning on the property is "unconstitutional and invalid."

The farm is zoned for rural residential use, and the legal complaint argues it should permit a traditional neighborhood development, which would include higher density development.

Houlihan declined to comment because, saying he said he hadn't had a chance to read the response.

The Sahbra Farms complaint claims two separate master planning processes have identified the farm as a good location within Streetsboro for a higher density development incorporating "a variety of housing types, a mix of land uses, an active center and a walkable design," according to the complaint, citing the city's 2009 Comprehensive Land Use plan.

Those planning processes took place in 2004 and in 2009. The the latter one was required through the terms of a prior settlement between the city and Sahbra Farms Owner David Gross and two other citizens, which alleged procedural misconduct connected with rezoning of other properties in the city, according to Sahbra Farms' complaint.

Sahbra Farms is seeking compensation "representing the fair market value of the property and temporary taking damages for the city's taking of the property under Ohio law," states the complaint.

The legal complaint claims the value of the property, had it been rezoned following the development of the 2009 plan, would have been more than $35 million.

The response states Sahbra Farms' "claims are barred by the applicable statute of limitations." The legal complaint refers to events that took place as early as 2002.

The zoning at the time of purchase also is a factor, claims the response. Sahbra Farms also is seeking a declaration that the rural residential zoning of the property is "unconstitutional and invalid as applied to the property."

The response by the city stated the zoning claim should be denied.

"(The) plaintiff's claims are barred by the plaintiff's purchase of the property under the present zoning, that is the existing zoning and has been present on the property since prior to the acquisition of the property by the plaintiff," states the response.

However, the Jan. 24 legal complaint states that an ordinance passed in the fall of 2004 changed the rural residential zoning code, which covers Sahbra Farms.

According to the Jan. 24 filing by Sahbra Farms, minimum lot size was changed from a half-acre to an 1.5 acres and lot setbacks were increased, which "interfered with any potential development of properties with that classification," including Sahbra Farms.

Attorneys for the city, including Law Director David Maistros were unavailable for comment.

Sahbra Farms Owner David Gross declined to comment. Mayor Glenn Broska was not immediately available for commen

No future date in court has yet been set.

Email: bgaetjens@recordpub.com

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