Lake Twp.: Ohio Supreme Court to hear zoning/referendum case

By: 
Larry Limpf

Lake Twp.
Ohio Supreme Court to hear zoning/referendum case

News Editor
news@presspublications.com
A Lake Township resident is taking his complaint against the Wood County Board of Elections to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Theodore Thomas, Fostoria Road, is asking the court to block a decision by the board of elections to certify a referendum petition that will otherwise be on the March 19 primary ballot. If passed by voters, the referendum will undo a decision by the township trustees who approved a request by Thomas to rezone property he owns along Bailey Road from R-2 residential to B-2 commercial.
He has plans to install self-storage units on the property.
Thomas also owns an adjacent parcel at 5826 Woodville Rd., where a car wash is located.
Residents on Bailey and adjacent areas of the township petitioned for the referendum with the elections board and the board on Dec. 21, 2023 certified the petitions.
A week later, the trustees and Thomas filed resolutions protesting the board’s action and a second board hearing was scheduled for Jan. 9. Despite the challenge from Thomas and the trustees the elections board certified the petitions, setting the issue for the March ballot.
The filing with the Ohio Supreme Court echoes many of the items included in the protest submitted to the board of elections.
It contends the board “wrongfully approved the referendum petition knowing it did not contain signatures of 15 percent of relevant registered electors.”
Also, the board didn’t meet criteria in state law covering notices of public meetings when it scheduled the Dec. 21 meeting, the filing alleges.
Thomas is asking the court to issue a writ of prohibition to block the elections board from certifying the referendum petition and submitting the issue to the ballot.
He is also asking the court to issue a writ of mandamus ordering the board to sustain his protest and assess the costs and attorney fees to the board of elections.
Terry Burton, director of the board of elections, said it is board policy to not comment on pending legal matters.
The Supreme Court last week agreed to hear the case as an expedited election matter. It directed the board of elections to file an answer to the Thomas complaint by Jan. 18. Thomas is to file his evidence and merit brief by Jan. 22 and the board’s deadline for filing its evidence and merit brief is Jan. 25.

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