The Ohio Eleventh District Court of Appeals has issued a ruling upholding the decision of a Portage County judge allowing the River Bend Park canoe and kayak access point on the Cuyahoga River.
The state appellate court issued a ruling this month affirming a decision by Portage County Common Pleas Judge John Enlow, who determined in January that the park was not a detriment to the surrounding neighborhood.
The state court ruling stemmed from an appeal filed by Kent residents Jim and Diana Sumner, whose property stands across the river from the park on River Bend Boulevard.
The Sumners filed appeals in February 2011 in Portage County to decisions by the Kent Planning Commission, Kent Board of Zoning Appeals and Kent Board of Building Appeals that gave permission to the Kent Parks and Recreation Department to build the park, which includes 12 parking spaces and an access ramp to the river.
The Sumners' attorney, Joseph Spoonster, argued that the planning commission could not approve the project because it is a boat launch and not a park. Spoonster had argued boat launches are not permitted uses in residential districts.
Ohio Eleventh District Court of Appeals Judges Diane Grendell and Mary Jane Trapp determined the Sumners' arguments were without merit in upholding Enlow's earlier ruling, and that the Portage court did not "abuse its discretion in finding substantive, reliable and probative evidence to support the planning commission's grant of the conditional zoning certificate" required to build the park, according to court documents.
In his ruling, Enlow wrote that the parks department complied with all applicable laws in proposing, designing and constructing the park, which was finished earlier this year.
"The park's primary use to allow canoe and kayak access to the river perfectly befits its location and the vicinity," according to Portage County court order. "The activities at the park are not hazardous, disturbing, or detrimental to the neighborhood."