GIRARD - The state Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of the city's efforts to stop a landfill from going in behind the Creekside Gold Dome.
Frank Bodor, one of the attorneys that represented the city in court, said 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.
Bodor said the railroad was going 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.
The city argued that their action did not affect the railway because the property they 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.
A visiting judge in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court agreed that the city could not take the land, a ruling that was upheld by the 11th District Court of Appeals.
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.
Bodor said the case is now remanded back to common pleas court and a jury trial must be held to determine the value of the land before the city can take it. The land can only be used for park and recreation purposes, because that is the purpose designated for it by city council, Bodor said.
Attorneys who represented the railroad could not be reached for comment.