Berlin Twp. seeking ownership of Fairview

By Glenn Battishill - [email protected]

Berlin Township has filed a motion in Delaware County Common Pleas Court asking that the township be declared the owner of Fairview Memorial Park located at 5035 Columbus Pike.

Columbus attorney A.C. Strip was appointed to be the receiver for Fairview Memorial Park in May 2017, and he has been overseeing the cemetery’s affairs and looking for a buyer for the cemetery ever since the owners of the cemetery, Theodore and Arminda Martin, were indicted on theft charges and accused of gambling away money that was supposed to be spent on goods at the cemetery.

Strip has been filing regular reports with Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David M. Gormley about the cemetery and his search for a buyer, as well as the cemetery’s affairs.

On April 10, Strip filed a motion asking the court for authority to sell an entire parcel of the cemetery and one part of another parcel to the Islamic Society of Central Ohio for the sum of $130,000. According to court documents, the purchase would involve an 8.32-acre parcel as well as the “Muslim Section” of the cemetery.

However, on April 23, a Motion of Interested Party was filed by Berlin Township asking to intervene in the matter and objecting to the sale.

In the motion, Berlin Township’s attorneys, Stephen D. Brown and Christopher A. Rinehart, argued that because the cemetery is situated in Berlin Township and is not owned or in the care of an incorporated company, the township automatically has a vested interest and should have been a party in the case.

The township’s motion argued that proceeding forward with the sale and case impair the township’s interest.

On July 2, Gormley filed a judgment entry and granted the township’s motion to become an interested party. Gormley then granted Berlin Townships’s motion to intervene and said trustees have 14 days to file a response to Strip’s motion to sell part of the cemetery.

On Monday, Rinehart filed two motions asking Gormley to issue three rulings in the case: an order to deny Strip’s motion to sell part of the property; an order transferring the real estate to Berlin Township; and an order setting an in-person status conference for counsel to appear.

“The Receiver concedes Fairview is dissolved,” Rinehart writes in the motion. “Once dissolved (Ohio law) vests title to Berlin Township… The Receiver’s authority, and obligation pursuant to Ohio Revised Code 517.10 is to document as appropriate the transfer of (the cemetery) from Fairview to Berlin Township.”

Rinehart also asks for an order from Gormley that extinguishes any other interests in the cemetery.

Gormley has not yet filed a ruling in the case, and a hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Theodore and Arminda Martin were sentenced to five years and four-and-a-half years in prison, respectively, after they pleaded guilty to 14 and 15 theft charges, respectively. They were also ordered last year to pay restitution to 67 victims in the amount of more than $183,000.

By Glenn Battishill

[email protected]

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.