Gray v. Trustees, Monclova Tp., 73-831

Decision Date26 June 1974
Docket NumberNo. 73-831,73-831
Citation313 N.E.2d 366,67 O.O.2d 365,38 Ohio St.2d 310
Parties, 67 O.O.2d 365 GRAY et al., Appellants, v. TRUSTEES, MONCLOVA TOWNSHIP et al., Appellees.
CourtOhio Supreme Court

Syllabus by the Court

Action by a board of township trustees adopting an amendment to a previously approved planned unit development plat is legislative action, and such action is entitled to a presumption of validity; the burden of rebutting that presumption is on the party challenging such amendment.

Joseph P. Sheehy, Toledo, for appellants.

Doyle, Lewis & Warner, Thomas D. Smith and William H. Heywood, III, Toledo, for appellees.

C. WILLIAM O'NEILL, Chief Justice.

Under traditional concepts of zoning, a political subdivision is divided into a number of zoning districts by the local legislative body, which also establishes uniform rules concerning allowable type, size and location of buildings within a given district. Each improvement within a zoning district must comply with the same legislative specifications, unless a variance is sought and granted. Recently, however, the popularity of large-scale residential projects has engendered a new mode of zoning, variously referred to as Planned Unit Development (PUD), or Community Unit Plan (CUP). PUD zoning permits those aspects of land development which are normally regulated by zoning to vary within a geographically defined area bearing a single zoning classification. Within the PUD there may be found single-family dwellings, multi-family units, schools, open spaces, recreational facilities and other collateral nonresidential uses. In short, a PUD is often a self-contained, although not necessarily politically separate, community. 1 The present litigation involves a PUD in Monclova Township, Lucas County.

Section 9-A-1 of the Monclova Township Zoning Resolutions provides, in part:

'In view of the trend toward the development of group houses, planned neighborhoods, shopping centers or other planned developments intended for greater convenience or utility, which may necessitate variations from existing zoning classifications or regulations, such variations may be permitted provided that a plat showing location of building and yard requirements is first approved by the (zoning) commission. Upon approval by the board of trustees and the filing of such plat with the county recorder, such changes shall be, and become part of the zoning regulations, subject to such further changes as may be made in the prescribed manner.'

In 1966, the Board of Trustees of Monclova Township utilized this legislative scheme to approve a planned development known as Byrnwyck. In the years following, the area was developed as a residential community containing single-family and multi-family units. Additionally, the development contained two golf courses and an associated clubhouse site, on which was to be located a clubhouse, swimming pool, putting green, tennis facilities and parking area. The golf courses and clubhouse facilities were always owned by one of the several developers named as parties defendants in this case, 2 who operated them on a 'country club' basis, available only to dues-paying members. Although residence in Byrnwyck was not a prerequisite to membership, it is clear that a major purpose of the country club was to provide recreational facilities to the residents of the PUD.

The country club eventually turned into a financial debacle. The problem was attributed to the small membership, which was allegedly caused by a lack of facilities. To remedy this situation, appellees requested the Monclova Township Zoning Commission to consider an amendment to the PUD plat approved in 1966. 3 Specifically, appellees sought to amend the plat to reflect their intentions to expand the clubhouse, erect a facility for outdoor tennis and swimming which could be covered with an air-pressure canopy during winter months, relocate and enlarge the parking area, and attach to the clubhouse seven 'corporate condominium structures.' This last proposal was the litigation-producing element in this case.

As originally envisioned by appellees, four contiguous 'corporate condominium' structures would be built on a line running northeast from the clubhouse, with the most southerly of the four attached to the north side of the clubhouse. Three contiguous units would be placed south of the clubhouse, with the most northerly of the three attached to the south side of the clubhouse. Appellees subsequently eliminated from their plans one of the four structures to the north of the clubhouse, and hence the plan which eventually was judicially challenged involved six 'corporate condominium' structures, each two and one-half stories in height.

The structures would contain a total of 100 individual suites. Each suite would have several beds that could be folded into the wall, thereby converting the room into a meeting area. Some suites would also be equipped with kitchen facilities. Although their plans were somewhat nebulous, appellees apparently intended to sell suites mainly to business firms. Membership in the country club would be a prerequisite to the purchase of a suite. The suites would not be permanently occupied, but would be used by their owners or the owners' guests when they were in the Toledo area. According to one of appellees' witnesses, the facilities were 'designed to be used by the members as a business facility * * * similar to any board room in any company * * *.'

The zoning commission referred the amendment request to the Lucas County Planning Commission for review. That agency recommended that the request be denied unless the proposed condominiums were eliminated therefrom. This recommendation was not followed. The zoning commission and, subsequently, the Board of Trustees of Monclova Township, approved appellees' request without significant modification.

Appellants, all residents of Byrnwyck, promptly instituted the present litigation in the Court of Common Pleas, seeking a declaration of the rights of the parties under the original 1966 PUD plat and the abovedescribed amendment thereto. The Court of Common Pleas, holding that the amendment was an arbitrary and unreasonable exercise of the legislative power possessed by the township trustees, declared the board's zoning resolution invalid and entered judgment for appellants. The Court of Appeals...

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