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Sahbra Farms seeks more than $35 million in zoning complaint

by Bob Gaetjens | Editor Published: February 5, 2014 12:00 AM
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Sahbra Farms, which is owned by David Gross, filed a legal complaint Jan. 24 against the city of Streetsboro, alleging the zoning of the 290-acre property at the corner of Route 14 and Diagonal Road is "unconstitutional."

The farm property should have been changed from rural-residential zoning to allow for a "traditional neighborhood development," per the city's Comprehensive Land Use Plan, according to the complaint.

Two separate master planning processes with public input have identified Sahbra Farms as a good location within Streetsboro for a higher density development incorporating "a variety of housing types, a mix of land uses, an active center and a walkable design," according to the complaint, citing the 2009 Comprehensive Land Use plan.

The 2009 plan was developed as part of the city's settlement of a taxpayer lawsuit brought against the city by Gross and two other residents. The settlement "required City Council to 'adhere to the master plan … and enact, consistent with that plan land use recommendations and other regulations to the fullest extent permitted by law,'" states the Jan. 24 complaint.

Mayor Glenn Broska declined to comment on the substance of the legal complaint, which was filed at the Portage County Court of Common Pleas.

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Gross referred questions to his attorney, Jack Morrison Jr., who did not return phone calls for comment.

The property also was identified in a land use plan developed by Land Vision in 2004 as a good location for such a development, states the complaint.

"Despite paying $25,000 for the LandVision plan, the city never formally adopted it," states the complaint.

Sahbra Farms is seeking compensation "representing the fair market value of the property and temporary taking damages for the city's taking of the property under Ohio law," states the complaint. The complaint claims the value of the property, had it been rezoned following the development of the 2009 plan, would have been more than $35 million.

According to the complaint, Sahbra Farms has "operated at a loss for the last 10 years," and claims other agricultural uses, such as a roadside agricultural stand is "not economically viable."

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Gross also has investigated developing the property for oil and gas wells or surface mining and "has attracted no significant interest from developers in those industries," according to the complaint.

The complaint also states Sahbra Farm is surrounded on the north, south and west by areas where more dense housing is permitted, as well as a business district "to the immediate northeast of the property."

The complaint also requests declaratory judgements that the city's rural residential zoning, as applied to Sahbra Farms is "unconstitutional and invalid;" that Chapter 1125 of the city's code be declared "unconstitutional and invalid;" that the "city's constitutional actions have resulted in a compensable taking of the plaintiff's property;" and that the "city's unwarranted delay and refusal to amend its code … have caused [Sahbra Farms] significant, consequential and incidental damages representing the loss of its ability to beneficially use the property."

The Streetsboro Planning & Zoning Commission will meet at 7 p.m. Feb. 5 to discuss possible changes to the city's Comprehensive Plan.

Email: bgaetjens@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9440

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cindy31 Feb 7, 2014 1:05 PM

As far as I am concerned, the last thing this city needs is more housing!!  At the very least put it to a vote and see if the people want to build more housing!  I understand Sahbra Farms is not making money but why should the city be responsible for him to make a buck?  More people, more cars, more roads, more crime so one person can get richer off the city?  It's not our fault (the people of Streetsbor) or the citys fault that Sahbra Farms isn't making any money.  We don't need more housing we need MORE GREEN LAND!!! 

doc54 Feb 6, 2014 2:51 PM

I am curious to see what the public perception is here. Did the city screw up or is someone trying to make money based on a similar case as a precedent. I am surprised that there has been no commentary by anyone.