Village taxi width law upheld

Larry Limpf

News Editor

A court case that centers on the width of taxis in the Village of Put-in-Bay has been decided by the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals.
The appeals court recently reversed a ruling by the Ottawa County Common Pleas Court that had declared as unconstitutional the section of the village ordinances that prohibited any vehicle operated as a taxi cab to exceed 80 inches in width, including fender flare but not mirrors. The ordinance also set a maximum length of 25 feet for taxis.
Village council adopted the amendments to its codified ordinances in March 2020 and Taxiputinbay, LLC, filed a lawsuit after the village declined to issue permits for three of the company’s vehicles because they exceeded the 80-inch width limitation.
The trial court in April 2022 ruled in favor of the company, declaring the width limitation was unconstitutional under both the Home Rule amendment and Equal Protection Clause of the Ohio Constitution and blocked the village from enforcing the provision.
Addressing the Home Rule agreement, the appeals court wrote that while the Ohio Revised Code “is a general law that sets forth the maximum length, width, and height of different classes of vehicles that operate on the public roadways, it does not purport to regulate what type of vehicle may be used to provide for for-profit taxicab services. In addition, the Ohio Supreme Court has recognized that there is a fundamental difference between the general right to operate a motor vehicle on the public roadways and the privilege of using a particular vehicle for a regulated purpose.”
The appeals court also cited a local 2020 case, Put-in-Bay v. Mathys, in its argument: “Mathys and Islander Inn may drive their golf carts in the village and may even let others use the carts without charging for their use. But if Mathys and Islander Inn want the privilege of renting those vehicles to others for use within the village, they are required to pay the tax imposed by the ordinance on their rental vehicles.”
In addition, the court agreed with the village that the trial court erred when it determined the village ordinance violated the Equal Protection Clause of the state constitution.
“Here it is reasonable to conclude that taxicabs would be most often used during the busiest times of the day,” the appeals court wrote. “Thus, taxicabs pose a different danger than, for example, delivery trucks, which may deliver or operate during non-peak hours. Taxicabs also operate closer to the public, and deliver passengers to store fronts instead of back alleys, thereby posing a greater risk to pedestrians. As such, it is not irrational to limit the width of taxicabs to protect the safety of residents and tourists.”


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