A court decision may be near in the case involving an appeal to stop the relocation of the historic Kent Wells Sherman House.
Portage County Magistrate Kent Graham listened to a second, full day of witness testimony Wednesday before making several modifications to a temporary injunction order regarding the relocation of the house to 247 N. Water St.
Kent Assistant Law Director Eric Fink said in a telephone interview after the court proceedings concluded Wednesday that Graham had ordered the final arguments and trial briefs be submitted to the court by Tuesday at 4 p.m.
"There will be no further testimony taken," Fink said.
Kent attorney John Plough, who is arguing the case on behalf of the Kent citizens' group "Save the Standing Rock Garden," closed his case Wednesday afternoon.
One possible exception to the closed testimony would be if Plough asks the court to recall Lisa Regula Meyer, lead organizer of the Save the Standing Rock Garden, Fink said.
The group, which is not directly affiliated with Standing Rock Cultural Arts, has asked the court for a permanent injunction to stop the relocation of the historic house to the vacant lot at 247 N. Water St.
Part of the group's argument includes claims that the city violated Ohio Sunshine Laws with regards to advertising public meetings involving the relocation effort and that citizens' comments were not properly taken into consideration by the Kent Planning Commission when it approved a site plan for the relocation in September.
Earlier this month, Portage County Common Pleas Court Judge John Enlow issued a temporary injunction on behalf of Save the Standing Rock Garden that temporarily stopped site work for relocation of the historic house.
Fink said the magistrate modified that temporary injunction to prohibit Kent Wells Sherman House Inc., the group trying to save the house, from excavating on the site while allowing other activity.
Graham also vacated the first paragraph in the injunction order, Fink said.
"It’s as if that clause never existed in the first place," he said. "Basically what that means is that before (KWSH) were prevented from removing any trees, bushes shrubs, plants or any other objects. Now they can."
The original injunction order is attached to this article along with the original appeal.
Graham listened to testimony from several witnesses Wednesday, including: Bridget Susel, director of the Kent Community Development Department; Rick Hawksley, the architect for the relocation; Alan Orashan, a member of the Kent Architectural Review Board; John Gargan, a member of the Kent Planning Commission; and Kyle McDonald, a reporter for the Record-Courier.
Roger Thurman, vice president of the Kent Wells-Sherman House board, said Wednesday that the process of obtaining the necessary permits from the city for relocating the house has proven to be more of a stumbling block than the court appeal.
The house currently sits on a small parcel of land owned by Kent State University at the western end of East College Avenue. It was moved there in August so that construction on the Esplanade — the original reason for moving the house — could start.
University and city officials have said the house must be moved from that location by Dec. 1 or it will likely be demolished.