Luckey: Closing arguments in eminent domain case due this week

Larry Limpf

News Editor

The judge in an eminent domain case between the Village of Luckey and owners of property that includes a quarry has extended the deadline for the two parties to file closing arguments until Nov. 22.
Wood County Common Pleas Court Judge Molly Mack last week approved the extension at the request of both parties.
The village is seeking to acquire the quarry site to develop a public water system. Currently, the village is served by ground wells or by having water trucked in.
In March 2023, the village filed a petition to appropriate the 72.4-acre property from the owners, T&S Agriventures, and contends in a recent filing it has considered establishing a public system a few times in the past:
- In 2005, in conjunction with a municipal sewer project, the village obtained easements to run water lines throughout the village, including the T&S Agriventures property.
-In 2019, village council heard a presentation by the Northwestern Water & Sewer District about public water.
-A former mayor of the village who was in office from 2008 to 2017 testified the village considered establishing a public water system during her tenure and evaluated the quarry as a potential water source.
“The village renewed its interest and evaluation of a potential public water source in 2020 when defendants (T&S Agriventures) began making efforts to sell the property,” a village court filing says. “Defendants had discussions with the village regarding their intent to sell and the village attempted to negotiate a voluntary purchase of the property. However, the parties were unable to agree on a purchase price.”
T&S Agriventures in August 2021 entered into an agreement with an auction firm and an auction was scheduled for Sept. 18. The village notified the owners shortly before the auction it intended to “begin the process of exploring the acquisition” of the property, according to the filing.
The property didn’t sell at the auction and the village alleges its representative was prohibited from bidding by T&S Agriventures. The village passed another resolution on Sept. 21, 2022 declaring a necessity to commence the appropriation process and it came up with a good faith offering price of $525,000. The appraised value was $435,000, according to the village.
In March 2023, the village filed a petition to appropriate the property.
The property owners allege the village hasn’t met the statutory requirements for initiating the eminent domain process.
“On cross examination, Mayor (Cory) Panning acknowledged that the good faith offer was presented to defendants 10 months after the effective date of the appraisal. Mayor Panning further testified that he could not articulate any basis for how the village arrived at a good faith offer of $525,000, other than through the collective discussions of counsel. Panning could identify no document, other than the $435,000 appraisal, in determining the good faith offer,” a filing by the owners says. “Instead, the statutorily required good faith offer was arrived at exclusively through the discussion of the mayor and village council, none of whom, it was testified, had any background or specialized knowledge in real estate appraisal.”
The owners’ filing also says that Michael Franklin, president of village council, testified during a hearing that council was seeking the property because council members were speculating the Ohio Environmental Protection or some other entity may instruct the village to “do away” with the village private well system. But he acknowledged that the village, to date, has had “no communication from OEPA or any entity regarding a necessity or desire for the village….to provide public water service or to develop a public water source at the subject property.”


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