OTTAWA — The Road 5 lawsuit continues with the Putnam County commissioners filing new cases against 13 Road 5 residents Tuesday.
In 2012, county commissioners widened Road 5 by 10 feet on either side, using eminent domain to take possession of residential properties to use in the project. According to a complaint filed by 17 Road 5 residents in June 2017, the commissioners had no right to take possession of their property because they didn’t have a unanimous vote to do so. The 3rd Ohio District Court of Appeals agreed with the complaint by granting an appeal in 2014.
The complainants were seeking damages for trespassing, the complaint stated.
On Jan. 31, Putnam County Prosecutor Gary Lammers filed new application for appropriations against 13 Road 5 residents. The appropriations include offers for the land the commissioners took possession of during the original road project and site the widening Road 5 as the reason.
“What they are doing is illegal,” said Linde Webb of Lydy and Moan, Ltd., attorney for the defendants.
Webb said the commissioners were advised that they could use an old Ohio code statute from the early 1900s, Freeholders petition, to circumvent the lack of the unanimous vote before the Road 5 project first began. Freeholders petition was used by residents living on rural lands back in the early 20th century to convince county commissioners to do work on their roads, she said.
“It was never contemplated that it would be used to get someone living on Road E to sign it for work to be done on Road 5,” Webb said.
The intent instead was to give people living on rural roads a way to get necessary work completed. The way the commissioners used it violates the spirit of the petition and she intends to oppose the applications, Webb said.
According to the docket entries for each application for appropriation, a jury trial has been set for each defendant at 9 a.m. Oct. 10-12 at the Putnam County Court of Common Pleas.
County Commissioner Michael Lammers said the commissioners could not comment on ongoing cases. Gary Lammers did not return multiple phone calls and messages.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.