GREEN: When April Drive residents won a Sept. 21 appeal keeping a commercial/retail project from their neighborhood at least temporarily, they were aware the fight might not be over.

Now they know it could be several more months before a decision is rendered in Summit County Common Pleas Court about whether TWL Investments will be permitted to build a restaurant with patio, a grocery store and other retail businesses on 7.84 acres of vacant Massillon Road land or whether the residents’ earlier ruling will be upheld.

TWL Investments is an Akron development company whose owners, Tony and Walid Lababidi, want to build the complex on land that for years was zoned B-2 for medical facilities and office buildings only.

However, in 2009, the city added the phrase “conditional use permit” that would permit such structures like the Lababidis want to build.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved the plans June 21 and didn’t need council action to do so since the B-2 zoning wasn’t being changed.

Green Highlands subdivision residents contend the PZC meeting notice they received was flawed in several ways, including not giving them time to prepare to fight the project with legal representation.

The matter rests in the hands of Judge Paul Gallagher, who is the third judge assigned to the administrative appeal. The case became Gallagher’s after judges Jason Wells and Amy Corrigall Jones recused themselves without reason.

In an administrative order Friday, Gallagher notified the Lababidis and their attorney, Benjamin Ockner of Beachwood, that their brief and assignment of error must be filed by Feb. 20.

The city then has until March 20 to make the same filing, as does Steven Hobson, attorney for three Green Highlands couples who were granted permission by Gallagher to be interveners in the case.

The developer then has until March 30 to file its reply to the city and interveners’ briefs.

On Monday, Patricia Himelrigh, Gallagher’s judicial attorney, said the case would be decided by administrative order without a hearing. She added that a decision is unlikely soon afterward considering the “voluminous” amount of material Gallagher must read before issuing his decision.

Some residents initially thought the case might be decided by March.

Hobson, who represented the Green Highlands group when the Green Board of Zoning Appeals affirmed the group’s claims, is counsel for Michael and Sandy Cline, Francis and Diana Ross and Doug and Jane Weaver, whose April Drive homes abut the land the developer has under contract with Summa Health, which owns the acreage.

The families said their understood when they purchased their properties that only medical facilities and office buildings could become their neighbors.

The interveners are concerned about their property values being reduced and their peace and quiet changed by late night and early morning noise coming from the site because of a proposed outdoor patio and large delivery trucks arriving in the middle of the night to fill the businesses’ orders.

Reached for comment, Michael Cline said, “While I wish this would move along more quickly, I understand the court’s scheduling limitations.

“My wife and I are willing to be patient and determined. And ultimately, we hope for a favorable decision.”