Summit County Common Pleas Judge Alison McCarty handed down a summary judgement in the case of Copley Township v. that denies several of Copley's claims on why Rothrock Road should remain open to the public.
Copley Township filed the lawsuit against Fairlawn on against traffic from a proposed Walmart Superstore and Sam's Club in Copley Township.
Fairlawn put up a temporary concrete barrier west of Sawgrass Road on Rothrock last winter. That barrier was supposed to be , but Copley filed an injunction against it. Fairlawn officials decided to wait to put up the barrier until a court determined its legality.
Earlier this year, the Copley Township v. Fairlawn case was combined with the case of Jacob Pollack v. Fairlawn because the Fairlawn resident wants the road reopened as well, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.
Below is a brief description of Copley's claims and the judges decision (all according to the court docket):
- Copley says that by closing access to a portion of Rothrock Road, Fairlawn intends to vacate a portion of the road but has not followed the procedure to do so. Fairlawn says vacating a road is only applicable in instances where a petition is filed to vacate a portion of the road and the abutting property owners have not consented. Fairlawn says this case is different because the closure of Rothrock was a legislative decision that did not involve a petition. Fairlawn officials also argue that they are not required to vacate a road before closing it because Fairlawn is under home rule authority to barricade and/or close a road to through traffic. The judge said it's a separate issue whether Fairlawn was required to vacate the road before closing it. This count was dismissed and will not go to court.
- Copley said Fairlawn's road closing ordinances are "unreasonable, arbitrary, capricious and pursued in bad faith," according to the docket. However, according to Home Rule, it allows "a high measure of sovereignty upon municipalities," and that "municipalities have broad powers and duties with respect to streets and highways within tier limits." Copley has proved, using several past court cases, why blocking a road is detrimental to communities. The judge denied summary judgement on this count and it will go to court on June 1.
- Copley said equal protection was violated, however Fairlawn said Copley lacks standing to bring an equal protection claim against another municipality. Copley conceded that Count Three should be dismissed as a moot point.
- Copley says Fairlawn violated Section 19, Article 1 of the Ohio Constitution which talks about taking private property from owners to use it as a road. The judge said this section of the Constitution is inapplicable to the facts of this case and there is no evidence that private property has been taken for use as a road. This claim is dismissed and will not go to court.
- Copley said Fairlawn has failed to keep public roads open to the public. Fairlawn said it is not legally obligated to keep Rothrock Road, or any road, open forever without authority to close it and cited a previous court case. Copley argued the need to vacate the road, which goes back to Count One. The judge dismissed this claim and it will not go to court.
- This count claims Fairlawn unlawfully obstructed Rothrock Road. Fairlawn said this claim is inapplicable to the case because officials lawfully closed the road pursuant to a road closure plan authorized by ordinance. The judge dismissed this claim. It will not go to court.
Jacob Pollack filed 20 claims against Fairlawn regarding similar issues. Counts 1-14 challenged the type of barricade Fairlawn used to block the road. The judge dismissed these as moot Fairlawn has already established that they intend to move forward with replacing the barrier.
Pollack's 15th count presents a claim for unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious legislation and Count 16 presents a claim for pursuing traffic plan in bad faith. Since both these claims were granted in Copley's case, they were also granted in Pollack's.
Pollack's 17th count also addresses violation of Ohio's Article 1, Section 19 and was dismissed. Pollack's 18th count is similar to Copley's Count Five and was dismissed.
Count 19 says Fairlawn violates the right to intrastate travel, however Pollack failed to present an argument in law or fact as to how that right has been violated. It was dismissed.
Count 20 is similar to Copley's Count One and was dismissed.
Fairlawn and Copley officials will head to court Friday to get the final verdict in this case.