LEWIS CENTER — A Delaware County Common Pleas judge issued a final order earlier this month turning over control of Fairview Memorial Park to Berlin Township and authorizing the cemetery’s receiver to sell the undeveloped parcel adjacent to the cemetery.
Located at 5035 Columbus Pike in Lewis Center, the cemetery has been at the center of legal proceedings after the owners, Theodore and Arminda Martin, were convicted on theft charges related to accepting money for items at the cemetery but never following through with the orders. The Martins were sentenced to prison in 2017, and the cemetery was entrusted to A.C. Strip, a Columbus attorney.
Strip was ordered by Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David M. Gormley to maintain the neglected cemetery and to find a buyer for the cemetery. Strip filed a motion in 2018 requesting the court’s permission to sell the undeveloped parcel adjacent to the cemetery to the Islamic Society of Central Ohio. At that point, Berlin Township entered the case and requested that the court grant the township the two parcels of land, totally 11.9 acres, that comprise the cemetery, as well as the third, undeveloped section of 8.3 acres that Strip was attempting to sell.
Gormley granted part of the township’s motion and ordered that it gain control of the cemetery but that Strip would be allowed to sell the undeveloped. Berlin Township appealed this order, but the Fifth District Court of Appeals affirmed Gormley’s judgment, ruling the undeveloped land is not considered part of the cemetery.
On Oct. 6, Gormley once again ordered that the two tracts of land making up the cemetery be transferred to Berlin Township and the land shall be “free and clear of all nongovernmental interests in and/or liens upon said real property.”
On Oct. 19, Gormley authorized Strip to sell the undeveloped parcel to the Islamic Society of Central Ohio for $107,000. Gormley said the land would be sold “as is” with respect to condition and the title would be “free and clear.”
According to Strip’s most recent report regarding the cemetery, he said it was “business as usual” at the site as burials and maintenance have been conducted without incident.
There have been no filings in the matter since Oct. 19.