OTTAWA —The Road 5 trial neared its end Wednesday as the jury passed down verdicts on two of the three remaining cases at the Putnam County Court of Common Pleas.
In 2012, the Putnam County Commissioners took 10 feet of property from residents on Road 5 when they expanded the roadway for safety reasons. There were 13 residents who opposed the commissioners using tactics used to get the roadway project completed and also didn’t believe the offers for their land were not fair.
During a pre-trial hearing held at Putnam County Common Pleas Court on Sept. 27 Judge Dale Crawford suggested the commissioners and residents of Road 5 settle the dispute out of court before the trial. Most of the 13 residents accepted the offers made by the commissioners except for three: William and Mary Kay Weis, Mark and Patricia Maag and Carol Reynolds, Marilyn Horstman and the Nienberg family.
The jury reached verdicts on the Weis and Maag cases Wednesday. They jury found both residents were only entitled to the compensation originally offered to them by the commissioners in 2012. The Weis family was awarded a total of $10,000 and the Maags a total of $6,755.
The jury heard testimony from Kevin Schroeder, an appraiser with Martin & Wood Appraisal Group, who performed the before, and in come cases after, appraisals on the properties on Road 5.
When Schroeder appraised the Weis property before the project, he found the total value of the property to be $90,000. After the Road 5 project was completed, he appraised the property again and found the property reduction decreased the value to $80,000. He took the difference of the two totals to determine the $10,000 offer.
The Maag property was different, Schroeder said, because he only did the initial appraisal for their property because the home sat far enough away from the roadway there wasn’t any sufficient damage to prompt a second one.
Daniel Ellis, one of the attorneys representing the Road 5 residents, challenged this in cross examination using photographs provided by Maag showing standing water in a swale along Road 5 after it had rained.
Ellis asked him if standing water on the Maags’ property was considered damage to the property. Schroeder replied he couldn’t answer the question because there wasn’t any context to the photograph such as how much rain fell the day the photograph was taken, how long it had rained or how often standing water was in the ditch.
“Victory for us,” said Vincent Schroeder, Putnam County Commissioner, after the Maag verdict was read.
Puntam County Commissioners have spent over $1.2 million on settlements, attorneys fees for the Road 5 residents and commissioners, manpower for jobs connected to the case and fines when they were found responsible for multiple Ohio Sunshine Act violations.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.