Powell won’t appeal judge’s charter ruling


By D. Anthony Botkin - abotkin@civitasmedia.com



Powell city officials said Friday that the city will not appeal a ruling made by the federal court regarding a citizen-initiated charter amendment.

U.S. District Court Judge James L. Graham ruled on March 25 that a charter amendment approved in late 2014 by Powell voters is unconstitutional.

The referendum that added the charter amendment was intended to block the building of a 64-apartment development. The city originally opposed the charter amendment.

The court stated that the Powell charter amendment is an unlawful delegation of legislative power and also determined that Powell Crossing LLC is entitled to permanent injunctive relief and invalidated the charter amendment in its entirety, city officials said in a prepared statement. Damages are still unknown at this time.

“The city of Powell has complied with all applicable laws from the inception of the Powell Crossing development to present day,” said City Manager Steve Lutz. “The city has heard and acknowledged the voices of its residents regarding development and the quality of life that makes our city such a great place to live.”

In late 2014, the Center for Powell Crossing LLC brought an action against the city of Powell for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, declaratory judgment and damages in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Powell Crossing had purchased a tract of property at 147 W. Olentangy St. in Powell’s downtown business district. Developers proposed a mixed-use development that would include 14,000 square feet of retail, office space and 64 apartment units. The development plan was approved by Powell City Council in June 2014. A group of residents challenged the city’s approval of Powell Crossing’s development plan through a charter amendment initiative.

Opponents of the development were successful in passing the charter amendment that created a commission that includes five homeowners associations’ presidents to draft the city’s next comprehensive plan. Opponents at the time said their aim was to stop high-density housing from being built in Powell.

“We sought and received guidance from the district court regarding the merits of the charter amendment and its impact on the Powell Crossing development,” Lutz said in the prepared statement. “The city is satisfied with the legal analysis conducted by the court and now has the guidance necessary to move forward with the development process while embarking on the damages phase of this litigation.”

City officials said they will not issue further statements regarding this ongoing legal matter until it concludes.

“Our residents can rest assured that any future decisions will be made in compliance with the law and in the best interest of our community,” Lutz said.

By D. Anthony Botkin

abotkin@civitasmedia.com

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin