Date set for landfill-park case

WARREN – An April 15 court date has been scheduled for arguments to continue in a case between the City of Girard and owners of property where the city envisions placing a park someday.

The Ohio Supreme Court in November ruled in favor of the city’s efforts to stop a proposed landfill from going in on the property behind the Creekside Golf Dome.

The decision by the high court reversed lower court decisions at the common pleas and appellate level and allows the city to seize the property owned by the Youngstown Belt Railway Co. by eminent domain.

At issue is a banana-shaped piece of property totaling about 42 acres.

Attorneys on both sides are expected to argue the necessity of the city’s taking the land. Afterward, the case could proceed to a jury to decide the question of how much the city would have to pay for the property.

The railroad intended to sell the property to Total Waste Logistics for use as a landfill until the city in 2006 tried to seize the property under eminent domain to create a park and recreation district.

The railroad took the city to court to stop their purchase of the property, claiming at the time that because they are a railroad and because the property is used for transportation the Surface Transportation Board has ultimate jurisdiction over the property.

Retired and visiting Judge Thomas Patrick Curran ruled the STB had jurisdiction and the 11th District Court of Appeals agreed in a split decision.

The city argued that their action did not affect the railway because the property it seized did not have any railroad lines and that their plan to sell the land to be used as a landfill undermined their argument that they needed it for transportation.

The high court ruled that the fact the property had no tracks means it falls out of the jurisdiction of the STB, and selling the property to Total Waste Logistics would also ensure that it is not used for railway transportation.

The railroad also argued they may use the property for transportation in the future, but the high court said they have no concrete plans and are in fact selling the property and they have not developed it since purchasing it in 1997.

The land can only be used for park and recreation purposes, because that is the purpose designated for it by City Council, according to the city’s attorney, Frank Bodor.