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Court Ends Testimony on Wells Sherman House Injunction Request

Portage magistrate closes second, full day of trial

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.

Balertwine November 22, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Coolsville. Yeah, I like it when people have to testify in court under oath, instead of just greasing palms behind the scenes in a good buddy good buddy system that sickens the citizenry, who usually resign to apathy, believing that this is just the way it always goes and always will. HA!!! Pity you couldn't just bend the rules to your liking. Breaks my heart.
Sue JEffers November 22, 2012 at 02:32 AM
this whole process has been disgusting. what this town could use is a homeless shelter and affordable housing, not a 10 million dollar sidewalk and ripping down housing stock and deplorable gentrification. disgusted by most decisions being made by corporate minded folk who believe communities can be run like walmart - whose ceo is compensated obscenely while his workers are paid poverty wages and have to get food stamps.
David Badagnani November 23, 2012 at 06:05 AM
Shouldn't it be mentioned in this article that Allan Orashan is also an officer of the Kent Wells-Sherman House organization?
David Badagnani November 23, 2012 at 06:11 AM
Why doesn't this article mention one of the most important arguments of the appellants, namely that the City of Kent's regulations stipulate that the Kent Planning Commission must wait 1 year after voting "no" on a project before that project is brought back before the commission for another vote? (In this case, the Planning Commission voted "No" on the house relocation, then considered and voted again on the same project a few weeks later, against its own regulations.
Brian November 24, 2012 at 06:28 PM
In your post, you use terms such as "corporate minded folk", “walmart", "ceo", and "poverty wages". Although both sides are certainly being greedy, which is the point I think you are making, I’m confused by your choice of words given that the parties involved represent the other end of the spectrum; one side attempting to control land that they don't own while the other side wants to use public money to relocate a structure that was given to them for free. Don’t get me wrong, I too am saddened by the entire affair, but I think the dispute illuminates that greed comes in all shapes and sizes and is certainly not limited to the business world.
Misty Jones November 26, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Interesting deduction. Too bad greed isn't really defined as voicing taxpayer opinion on tax dollar spending, appealing a decision via the only legal means (court action), making a city respond to breaking its own city and state laws while ignoring the taxpayers, or raising money to buy and keep the lot as is.
jim November 28, 2012 at 12:19 AM
David,you took the words right out of my mouth, thank you! This is about how government operates, not so much about who has the right to own and do what with their property. Its a case study in how a commission can be bullied into not doing its job, which is to hear the communities needs on property use, decide accordingly. They decided no, and shouldn't they; having heard testimony from most who showed up to preserve the green space? KWSH, like it or not, should have been required to wait before taking it up with them again just like everyone else has to! If KWSH didn't like it they should have appealed on legal grounds as SSRG has done!! It seems like a slight technicality, but if our fed' reps' are a lost cause,what do we have left of our democracy if our local reps' can be blustered into doing this on what should be a matter of routine? What chance do we have when bigger more important issues happen? What about our right to clean water when the ODNR can run right over our local rights?! If they can't handle this.... the frackers will get away with murder!!

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