YOUNGSTOWN – A Mahoning County Common Plea Magistrate has rejected an attempt by a Green Township farmer to prevent Mill Creek MetroParks from trying to acquire a right of way on his property to build the final phase of the MetroParks bike path.
Specifically, Michael and Barbara Cameron, whose farm near Washingtonville Road includes a 3,400-foot-long former railroad, asked Magistrate James Melone to dismiss the priority action on the grounds that the Budget Bill State Agreement signed by Governor Mike DeWine June 30 contained a provision banning the use of the prominent estate to build recreational trails in Mahoning County.
Melone works for Judge Anthony D’Apolito of the Mahoning County Common Plea Court.
Melone’s decision this month is that state law requires new laws such as the State Budget Bill to be enforced from the date they were enacted – not retroactively “unless they are expressly made retroactive”.
Melone’s ruling states that Ohio “the failure of the General Assembly to clearly state retroactivity ends the analysis and (the new law) can only be applied prospectively.”
Melone cited a 2003 Youngstown Seventh District Court of Appeal ruling refusing to apply the new law to the Cameron case because the case is “still pending and the (taking of the property) has failed. not yet taken place “.
The case has no trial date but a conference call is scheduled for Wednesday at 9 a.m.
Melone has already ruled on several other motions in the case. For example, he ruled that the Camerons can present testimony at trial about the availability of information about criminal activity on or near the Mill Creek MetroParks bike path and other walking and biking trails, but Melone will have to decide at on a case-by-case basis, whether the case should go to trial, whether specific examples of crimes or statistics would be allowed.
One of the objectives of a prominent estate business is to determine the fair market value of real estate that a public entity wishes to acquire.
The Cameron property is a 65-foot-wide, 3,400-foot-long piece of land that crosses the 158-acre farm just east of Salem. MetroParks wants to acquire the right-of-way as part of its plan to complete the last 6.4 miles of its bike path. The 6.4-mile section would stretch from Western Reserve Road, near Canfield, to the Columbiana County line in southern Mahoning County. MetroParks wants to use the old track for most of the new segment.
The Cameron’s are one of many landowners who own land along the old railway line who have argued that the new law prevents MetroParks from acquiring a right of way over their property for a recreational trail.
Magistrate Tim Welsh and Mahoning County Common Plea Court Judge R. Scott Krichbaum ruled in August that the eminent case in the estate of Green Township landowner Thomas Hough could not be reopened due to the new law of State.
Hough’s case was resolved at trial, with MetroParks ordered to pay $ 6,000 more for the right of way over the old Hough railroad bed than the MetroParks originally proposed. The jury ordered MetroParks to pay Hough $ 62,975 for the right of way on a one-mile stretch of old railroad tracks and $ 6,000 for a smaller parcel.
Hough and his lawyer, Molly Johnson, have since appealed the ruling to the Seventh District Court of Appeal, and a panel of judges from the Circleville Fourth Court of Appeal have been assigned to the case.
Melone’s decision in the Cameron case indicates that a 2003 appeals court ruling stated that the General Assembly “is prohibited from retroactively applying substantive laws that affect substantive rights, as opposed to remedial laws that ‘they can apply retroactively’.
But before even considering whether the state budget bill affected substantive rights, Melone must have seen that the General Assembly had made it clear that it wanted the law to be retroactive – which she didn’t, Melone said.
Melone’s decision concluded that “the new (budget) bill does not apply in this case. If the General Assembly had wanted the legislation to apply here, surely it would have clearly stated its intention to apply the legislation retroactively.