A trial date has been set in Berkshire Township’s ongoing legal battle with the village of Galena to determine who will have future responsibility for Galena Cemetery.
On Jan. 25, Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David Gormley scheduled a bench trial — meaning attorneys will present the evidence of the case to him directly and he will decide a verdict, instead of a jury. The trial is scheduled for Dec. 6 and 7.
Gormley said Friday it is common practice for him to schedule civil cases in advance to give both sides time to file motions, collect evidence or come to an agreement.
Gormley said all witnesses must be disclosed by March 14, all discovery must be submitted before July 11, and all motions must be filed by August.
A pretrial hearing to hear statements from both parties has been scheduled for Nov. 21.
Gormley added in court documents that if the parties would like to mediate the situation, his office would provide a list of mediators.
Gormley said Friday if any motions are filed in the case, he will respond in 60 days.
The township and village have been embroiled in a dispute over the ownership of the cemetery, which is located on North Walnut Street inside the Galena village limits. Berkshire Township owned and operated the cemetery for 183 years, but decided last March to relinquish ownership to the village. Galena officials have said they do not have the resources to run and maintain the cemetery.
The township cited a section of the Ohio Revised Code that states the village is responsible for care and upkeep of the cemetery since it’s located inside village boundaries. Both the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office and the Ohio Auditor’s Office supported the township’s position, and even stated that trustees could be held personally responsible for spending township tax dollars on the cemetery.
The disagreement went to court when Galena filed a lawsuit against Berkshire Township last September.
The township filed a counter claim against the village in December. In the counter claim, township officials request that Gormley declare that the village has the right to the title and possession of the cemetery and that the township has no legal obligation to maintain it. They also request a monetary judgment of $535.56 to cover the costs of material and labor expended on Aug. 11, 2015, when the township handled a burial at the cemetery.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.