FAIRLAWN: Another resident of Fairlawn has sued the city of Fairlawn, Mayor Bill Roth and City council members saying the closing of Rothrock Road is unlawful.
The suit, filed Friday in Summit County Common Pleas Court by Jacob Pollock of Bunker Drive, wants Fairlawn to remove the barricades and reopen the road for the general public.
City officials have said barring Rothrock Road to through traffic would protect residential neighborhoods from the crush of vehicles expected to pour into a Walmart and Sam’s Club planned for a site on the west side of Rothrock Road in adjoining Copley Township.
In his suit, Pollack argued the city had another reason for closing the road.
“The real reason for the barricading and threatened closure of the road is an unlawful scheme by Fairlawn by deterring Walmart from relocating its existing Walmart and Sam’s Club stores from Fairlawn to Copley Township by hindering access to the proposed development,” the suit says.
Walmart officials said they want to relocate from Rosemont Commons in Fairlawn to Copley to build a bigger store on a 40-acre lot at the northern portion of Rothrock. The store would be open 24 hours a day and would include groceries. A new Sam’s Club would include fuel pumps.
Pollock filed a 20-count complaint saying city officials exceeded their authority by closing the west side of the intersection of Sawgrass Drive and the western boundary of Fairlawn on Rothrock Road. The action limits access to Rothrock Road to residents who live in the neighborhood, and shuts it off to the general public.
Pollock states that barricading Rothrock Road is unreasonable, a plan in bad faith, an abuse of corporate power and misapplied city funds. The road be kept open to the public because it is a public thoroughfare and the closing prevents intrastate travel.
A similar suit to stop the roadblock was filed on July 25 by Kevin Woodman of Fairlawn along with Copley Township officials, who sued to prevent Fairlawn from installing a gate system. Fairlawn had planned to set up a gate system and issue key cards to limit access to residents.
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Alison McCarty denied Woodman an injunction to prevent Fairlawn from closing the road, but did not rule on the legality issue. Fairlawn dropped the use of a gate system because of weather complications, but decided to go ahead with a temporary barricade.
On Nov. 14, the city placed a barricade in the middle of Rothrock Road, just west of its intersection with Sawgrass Drive, with a sign affixed to each face of the barricade that reads, “Road Closed to Thru Traffic.”
The barricade does not extend completely across Rothrock and leaves enough room on either side of the sign to allow vehicles to pass with ease.
Pollock’s suit contends there was never any legislation authorizing the temporary sign, “Thru Traffic,” or legislation that clearly defines the term and there is no ordinance in place to enforce the sign.
The suit accuses Fairlawn officials of working with the lawyers for Stark Enterprises Inc., owners of Rosemont Commons, the current site of the Walmart and Sam’s Club stores, to oppose the new development.
Pollock wants Fairlawn to immediately remove the barricade on Rothrock Road and all related signs and prevent the city from taking any further action to close the road.
Pollock is also asking to be reimbursed for the filing fee and all attorney fees and court costs.
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or firstname.lastname@example.org.