MEDINA: A Medina County judge cleared the way Tuesday for Westfield Township to settle a lawsuit that could bring commercial development to land near the Interstate 76/71 interchange.
Common Pleas Judge Christopher Collier refused to stop a special township trustees meeting from taking place Friday night. Trustees are expected to approve the deal at that meeting.
But the judge also noted that the court must sign off on any agreement and — in a win for those against the proposed deal — he allowed seven residents upset with the process to intervene at an upcoming court hearing.
The residents had sought to prevent the trustees meeting from occurring and wanted to intervene in the lawsuit.
At issue is whether property owners Timothy and Linda Kratzer can develop a 105-acre parcel on Greenwich Road. The majority of the land is zoned rural residential, and the Kratzers have sought for years to rezone the property.
After being thwarted by a referendum in 2011 and later being turned down for a zoning variance, the Kratzers sued the township earlier this year.
Trustees are scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Friday at the township hall to settle the suit, which includes paying the Kratzers $15,000 and opening up the land for business development.
The timing of the meeting has sparked criticism because two of the trustees, Ronald Oiler and Gary Harris, lost re-election bids last month, meaning their last acts in office will be voting on the controversial settlement.
If trustees approve the deal, Collier would hold a hearing at 9 a.m. Feb. 13.
Attorney R. Todd Hunt, who represents the Kratzers, called Collier’s decision “generally ... a positive outcome.”
He added that there are no specific development plans for the property.
Township attorney James Mathews said the township is pleased the process is moving toward a resolution.
“And in the event of trustee approval this coming Friday, we have always felt it would be appropriate and indeed required by the code [that] the matter come before the judge for ultimate review regarding the fairness of the agreement,” he said.
Trustee-elect William Thombs, who opposes the settlement, said he was pleased that the judge allowed him and other residents to intervene in the case.
“It’s as close as we could get,” he said. “He could have very simply said that he was not going to let us intervene in any way, shape or form.”
Asked why he opposes the rezoning, Thombs said residents don’t want to see any major commercial development in the township.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or email@example.com.