OTTAWA — The Road 5 case finally went to trial Tuesday at Putnam County Common Pleas Court, and the original plan for how the trial would proceed was altered at the last minute.
In 2012 the Putnam County Commissioners used eminent domain to appropriate 10 feet of property on either side of the roadway to expand it for safety reasons. While most residents on Road 5 accepted the offers for the property, 13 residents opposed the taking of their property for varied reasons, including the commissioners breaking multiple Ohio Sunshine Act laws to begin the project.
All but three of those residences recently accepted offers from the commissioners and removed themselves from the case, but three decided to go to trial and let a jury determine their compensation: William and Mary Kay Weis, Mark and Patricia Maag and, lastly, Carol Reynolds, Marilyn Horstman and the Nienberg family.
Linde Webb, the Toledo based attorney representing the three remaining residents of Road 5, objected to how Judge Dale Crawford intended to proceed with the trial. Crawford intended for the attorneys to proceed with opening statements for the three remaining cases Tuesday. He intended for testimony in all three cases than be heard Wednesday through Thursday, if necessary, and then on Thursday or Friday have the attorneys give their closing arguments on all three cases.
However, an entry in the docket indicated each case would be heard separately and Webb insisted the trial proceed in as the entry stated.
On Tuesday, the jury heard the opening statements concerning the Weis case, viewed all three properties in question at Road 5 and then heard testimony from William Weis. The jury will then hearing closing arguments for the Weis case, then hear opening statements, testimony and closings for the Maag case and finally the Nienberg case before reaching a verdict on all three.
“Mr. Weis will tell you that they lost 42 percent of their frontage to that road,” Webb said, giving opening statements for the Weis case. “The project took 10 feet off their property, but the house was only 24 feet from the road. Now it’s 14 feet from the road. This has changed their life.”
Webb said he can no longer back out of their driveway because it isn’t safe anymore. The Road 5 project has also damaged their chances of selling their home for a good price, should they decide to, because families with children or pets wouldn’t want to live so close to a road with so much traffic.
Gary Lammers, Putnam County prosecutor, said the county wants to compensate the remaining three families on Road 5 because they’re entitled to it by law, but the compensation must be just and fair.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.