As is typical of lawsuits, the federal case filed by real estate developer Lifestyle Communities against the City of Worthington has been a back-and-forth series, with each new petition thwarting claims made in a previous petition by the other side.
The latest is a motion filed June 17 by LC opposing the city’s May 27 motion asking the court to dismiss LC’s lawsuit regarding the former United Methodist Children’s Home site at 1033 N. High St.
The city’s motion, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of the Eastern Division of Ohio, seeks the full dismissal of LC’s lawsuit, which alleges the city obstructed the efforts of the company to redevelop the UMCH site into a mixed-use residential and commercial complex. development.
LC’s response asks the court to deny the City’s motion to dismiss and allow oral argument on the City’s motion.
LC’s motion also alleges that the city’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit is “entirely without merit” and that “the city’s arguments whitewash its actions and misconstrue the law.”
“This land use case arises from extremely unique and egregious circumstances in which the City of Worthington … prevents Lifestyle Communities, Ltd. and Worthington Campus, LLC … from using its private property for productive purposes,” LC said on June 17. motion stated. “City leaders have singled out Lifestyle – falsely claiming that Lifestyle is an untrustworthy liar and only builds ‘mediocre’ developments with issues – because the city wants to convert the vast majority of Lifestyle’s private property to public park.
“Rather than pay just compensation or acquire the necessary rights for a park, city leaders intentionally and improperly blocked, threatened and intimidated Lifestyle into relinquishing his property to the city, boldly claiming that anything offered by Lifestyle on the property would be refused.”
LC is represented by the law firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP in the lawsuit, which the company originally filed in March.
The company’s most recent attempt to redevelop the site stalled in late 2021.
“Worthington’s actions are patently illegal, unconstitutional and will unfortunately cost the taxpayers of Worthington significant sums of money,” Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP attorney Joseph Miller said in a prepared statement to ThisWeek. “Rather than engage in baseless legal wrangling, the City should welcome the diversity of housing this development would add to the community, as well as the millions of dollars in annual tax revenue it would create.”
United Methodist Children’s Home Site: Continued ThisWeek Coverage
The city’s May 27 motion seeks to dismiss the lawsuit on all counts, alleging that plaintiffs’ “scattered ten-count complaint is based on a fundamental misinterpretation of the law governing petitions for rezoning”.
“The plaintiffs’ primary complaint relates to allegations of violations of due process,” the city’s motion said. “Indeed, five of the plaintiffs’ causes of action relate to allegations that the city violated the plaintiffs’ due process rights in one way or another. But they cannot prevail over these procedural claims. because they do not have a right of property or freedom protected in their request for discretionary rezoning.
It continues, “The remaining counts include allegations that the city treated the plaintiffs differently from other candidates; that the city violated the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights; that the city’s actions amounted to a regulatory property; and a claim for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief regarding the local rezoning of the property in question. … All of these causes of action must be dismissed because, under the law, the plaintiffs cannot – and do not – state a claim for which relief may be granted”,
City spokeswoman Anne Brown previously said that “the dispute is not representative of the business climate in Worthington” and that “ownership of 1033 High St. is critically important to the community of Worthington, and we will continue to evaluate next steps. We are confident that we will be able to find a solution that works best for our community.”
Other proposals for the site have been floated over the past decade, including a giant eagle and a park-like setting.