J.D. Partnership v. Berlin Tp. Bd. of Trustees, No. 2:00-CV-787.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
Writing for the CourtFrost
Citation412 F.Supp.2d 772
PartiesJ.D. PARTNERSHIP, et al., Plaintiffs, v. BERLIN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF TRUSTEES, et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. 2:00-CV-787.
Decision Date28 June 2005
412 F.Supp.2d 772
J.D. PARTNERSHIP, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BERLIN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF TRUSTEES, et al., Defendants.
No. 2:00-CV-787.
United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division.
June 28, 2005.

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COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

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Benjamin Scot Zacks, Benjamin Scot Zacks, Zacks Law Group LLC, Larry Holliday James, Crabbe, Brown & James, Columbus, OH, for Plaintiffs.

Leah J. Sellers, William John Owen, II, Delaware County Prosecutor, William Duncan Whitney, Marianne T. Hemmeter, Delaware, OH, for Defendants.

OPINION & ORDER

FROST, District Judge.


The Court considers this matter pursuant to cross motions for summary judgment.1 (Docs.# # 99, 108). After careful consideration of the record, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs' motion (Doc. # 108) and GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendants' motion (Doc. # 99).

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff J.D. Partnership's ("J.D.") principal place of business is in Ohio. (Pl.'s Am. Compl. ¶ 1). Plaintiff T & R Properties ("T & R") is an Ohio corporation. Id at ¶ 2. Plaintiff Ronald Sabatino ("Sabatino") owns the real property at issue in this case. Id. at ¶ 3.

Defendant Berlin Township Board of Trustees ("Board of Trustees") is charged with the responsibility to govern Berlin Township's affairs, including, but not limited to, zoning, planning and land use. Id. at ¶ 5. Defendant Berlin Township Zoning Commission ("Commission") is a panel responsible for zoning matters in Berlin Township. Id at ¶ 6.

In October 1998 plaintiffs filed an application to reclassify 61.3 acres of land they owned in Berlin Township north of Sherman Road ("Northern Property") on the east and west side of Africa Road from farm residential (FR-1) to planned residential development (PRD). The Delaware County Regional Planning Commission ("Planning Commission") recommended denial of the application. In March 1999 plaintiffs filed an amended application to comply with what plaintiffs contend was a representation by the Planning Commission that a proposal for less than two units per acre would be favorably received. Plaintiffs list four examples of zoning approvals during the past fifteen years from FR-1 to PRD allowing approximately 2 units per acre and one example in 1994 allowing four units per acre. The Delaware County Regional Planning Commission again recommended denial after a study alleged several deficiencies that plaintiffs contend were addressed or corrected before the recommendation.

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Plaintiffs also contend that the recommendation was based on considerations relating to future amendments of the Zoning Code, PRDs and Land Use Map.2 After the recommendation and a hearing in June 1999 where Plaintiffs presented evidence in support of their amended application, Defendants denied the application because "it was too close and allegedly inconsistent with the Zoning Code, and did not dedicate and preserve land in excess of that reasonably related to the proposed use of the Northern Property." Plaintiffs contend that these reasons were arbitrary, unreasonable, and capricious and the real reason was to deny Plaintiffs of development and retain the land as open space.

In July 1999, plaintiffs appealed the denial of their amended application to the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas, which found it did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter because Defendants' denial of Plaintiffs' application was a legislative function. In August 2000, or appeal of that decision, the Ohio Court of Appeals for the Fifth District reversed and remanded the lower court's decision, holding that Defendants' denial of Plaintiffs' application was administrative, not legislative, and therefore appealable. J.D. Partnership, et al., v. Berlin Township Bd. of Trustees, et al., 00CAH01002, at *5 (Ohio App. 5th Dist. Aug. 2, 2000). On remand, the lower court upheld defendants' decision denying the application. Plaintiffs once again appealed to the Fifth District and, in May 2002, that court once again reversed the lower court, holding that Plaintiffs' application conformed to the PRD requirements and that Plaintiffs were therefore entitled to develop the land in accordance with the amended application.

In July 2002, an Agreed Judgment Entry allowing plaintiffs to develop the land in accordance with the appellate court decision was prepared by the parties and signed by the trial judge. When the entry was presented at a public hearing, the Delaware County Prosecutor stated it was not known whether the Agreed Judgment Entry was subject to referendum. Shortly thereafter, petitions were circulated and filed with the Berlin Township Clerk and a referendum petition concerning the Agreed Judgment Entry was submitted to the Delaware County Board of Elections to be placed on the ballot. Plaintiffs made several arguments and protests, prior to the decision to place the referendum on the ballot, that the petitions were not valid and that the Entry was not subject to referendum. These arguments included letters to Trustee elect and Circulator of the petitions Timothy Halter, the Delaware County Prosecutor and the Board of Elections as well as arguments at a formal hearing in front of the Board of Elections. When these arguments failed, plaintiffs filed a Writ of Prohibition and Mandamus with Ohio's Fifth District Court of Appeals. In October 2002, the Fifth District granted the Writ and ordered the referendum be removed from the ballot. Defendants then appealed to the Supreme Court of Ohio, which upheld the Fifth District's decision in December 2002 and ordered the immediate issue of the development permits.

During and following the proceedings involving the land in question, the plaintiffs applied for and were denied an application of another similarly situated plot of

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land ("Southern Property") by Defendants. This denial was overturned by the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas in January 2003 based on the May 2002 decision of the Ohio Fifth District Court of Appeals.

Plaintiffs filed the instant action on July 13, 2000, asserting that Defendants' alleged illegal stall and delay tactics violated their constitutional rights and resulted in a significant amount of damages from the delay in developing the land. Plaintiffs assert claims for inverse condemnation, denial of due process, discrimination in application of zoning and land regulation laws, denial of equal protection, and deprivation of civil rights. Plaintiffs seek declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief. The case was eventually stayed pending the resolution of the state court action.

On December 31, 2003, following the completion of the state court action, plaintiffs filed their Amended Complaint. (Doc. # 60). Plaintiffs claims against defendants include: 1) inverse condemnation; 2) due process violations; 3) discrimination and equal protection violations; 4) deprivation of civil rights; 5) estoppel; 6) unjust enrichment, and 7) conspiracy. (Pl's Am. Compl. ¶¶ 163-233). Plaintiffs again seek declaratory, injunctive and monetary relief. Id. After the Court's ruling on Defendants' motion to dismiss, Plaintiffs' claims for deprivation of civil rights, estoppel, unjust enrichment, injunctive and declaratory relief remain.

Plaintiffs' and Defendants' motions for summary judgment are now fully briefed and ripe for review by the Court.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The Court must therefore grant a motion for summary judgment if the nonmoving party who has the burden of proof at trial fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element that is essential to that party's case. See Muncie Power Prods., Inc. v. United Techs. Auto., Inc., 328 F.3d 870, 873 (6th Cir.2003) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)).

In viewing the evidence, the Court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, which must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Id. (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986)); Hamad v. Woodcrest Condo. Ass'n, 328 F.3d 224, 234 (6th Cir.2003). A genuine issue of material fact exists "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Muncie, 328 F.3d at 873 (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)). Consequently, the central issue is "`whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.'" Hamad, 328 F.3d at 234-35 (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505). However, in ruling on a motion for summary judgment, "a district court is not ... obligated to wade through and search the entire record for some specific facts that might support the nonmoving party's claim." InterRoyal Corp. v. Sponseller, 889 F.2d 108, 111 (6th Cir.1989).

DISCUSSION

I. DEPRIVATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants deprived them of their civil rights in violation

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of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.3 (Pls.' Am. Compl. ¶¶ 202-207). Specifically, Plaintiff maintains that Defendants, while acting under color of state law, deprived them of their right to procedural and substantive due process as well as their right to equal protection. Id. at 203-204; see also Doc. # 108 at 4, 36, 41. Moreover, Plaintiffs assert that Defendants' actions resulted in an unlawful temporary taking of their property interest in the development of their land without just compensation. (Doc. # 60 ¶ 203; Doc. # 108 at 42-52). Consequently,...

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6 practice notes
  • Lopardo v. Lehman Bros., Inc., No. 1:02 CV 764.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • March 6, 2008
    ...v. Village of Marblehead, 2001 WL 279763, *2 (Ohio Ct.App. Mar. 23, 2001); see also J.D. Partnership v. Berlin Township Bd. of Tr., 412 F.Supp.2d 772, 786 (S.D.Ohio 2005); 42 Ohio Jur.3d Estoppel and Waiver § 30. "[E]stoppel is, according to the usual statement, a shield, not a sword. It do......
  • Wedgewood v. Township of Liberty, Ohio, No. C2-04-1069.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • October 12, 2006
    ...body having powers and duties of government" is a body politic and corporate. See J.D. Partnership v. Berlin Twp. Bd. of Trustees, 412 F.Supp.2d 772, 777 (S.D.Ohio 2005). Chapter 519 of the Ohio Revised Code makes a township zoning commission responsible for zoning matters in a township; ac......
  • Ctr. for Powell Crossing, LLC v. City of Powell, Case No: 2:14-cv-2207
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Ohio
    • March 25, 2016
    ...the zoning board had “broad discretion” to decline to issue the certificate). See alsoJ.D. P'ship v. Berlin Twp. Bd. of Trustees, 412 F.Supp.2d 772, 780 (S.D.Ohio 2005) (holding that developer did not have a protected property interest in approval of housing development application because ......
  • Whittaker v. County of Lawrence, Civil Action No. 04-1092.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. Western District of Pennsylvania
    • December 7, 2009
    ...Cir. 1998); United States v. Elmardoudi, 611 F.Supp.2d 872, 876 (N.D.Iowa 2007); J.D. Partnership v. Berlin Township Board of Trustees, 412 F.Supp.2d 772, 779 (S.D.Ohio 2005); Crowe v. County of San Diego, 359 F.Supp.2d 994, 1030-1031 (S.D.Cal.2005); Johnson v. Herman, 132 F.Supp.2d 1130, 1......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Lopardo v. Lehman Bros., Inc., No. 1:02 CV 764.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • March 6, 2008
    ...v. Village of Marblehead, 2001 WL 279763, *2 (Ohio Ct.App. Mar. 23, 2001); see also J.D. Partnership v. Berlin Township Bd. of Tr., 412 F.Supp.2d 772, 786 (S.D.Ohio 2005); 42 Ohio Jur.3d Estoppel and Waiver § 30. "[E]stoppel is, according to the usual statement, a shield, not a sword. It do......
  • Wedgewood v. Township of Liberty, Ohio, No. C2-04-1069.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • October 12, 2006
    ...body having powers and duties of government" is a body politic and corporate. See J.D. Partnership v. Berlin Twp. Bd. of Trustees, 412 F.Supp.2d 772, 777 (S.D.Ohio 2005). Chapter 519 of the Ohio Revised Code makes a township zoning commission responsible for zoning matters in a township; ac......
  • Ctr. for Powell Crossing, LLC v. City of Powell, Case No: 2:14-cv-2207
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Ohio
    • March 25, 2016
    ...the zoning board had “broad discretion” to decline to issue the certificate). See alsoJ.D. P'ship v. Berlin Twp. Bd. of Trustees, 412 F.Supp.2d 772, 780 (S.D.Ohio 2005) (holding that developer did not have a protected property interest in approval of housing development application because ......
  • Whittaker v. County of Lawrence, Civil Action No. 04-1092.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. Western District of Pennsylvania
    • December 7, 2009
    ...Cir. 1998); United States v. Elmardoudi, 611 F.Supp.2d 872, 876 (N.D.Iowa 2007); J.D. Partnership v. Berlin Township Board of Trustees, 412 F.Supp.2d 772, 779 (S.D.Ohio 2005); Crowe v. County of San Diego, 359 F.Supp.2d 994, 1030-1031 (S.D.Cal.2005); Johnson v. Herman, 132 F.Supp.2d 1130, 1......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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