The golf course owners have asked the Ohio Supreme Court to reverse a Stark County Board of Elections decision that kept a referendum to stop a zoning changes on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The Ohio Supreme Court has been asked to block a referendum attempting to stop a zoning change for a portion of the Tam O'Shanter Golf Course in Jackson Township.

The case was filed in Columbus last week, one day after the Stark County Board of Elections ruled the referendum should remain on the Nov. 7 ballot. It's an expedited appeal and should be resolved by the seven-judge panel in early October.

The golf course and Chuck Bennell, president and representative for the family-owned golf course, are suing the Board of Elections. The Stark County Prosecutor's office is representing the board and has until the end of this week to respond.

The dispute stems from Jackson Township's decision to change the zoning for 62 acres of Tam O'Shanter along the north side of the 36-hole golf course. The property is zoned for residential development, but the change allows for retail business development at the corner of Fulton Drive and Everhard Road NW.

The golf course's owners said opening the 62 acres for retail development allows them to sell 205 acres to Stark Parks and donate another 25 acres to Jackson Township. Stark Parks wants to develop the course as a park, while the township with build athletic fields.

Residents who live northwest of the course opposed the zone change. They argue that new business development would make traffic worse at the intersection of Everhard and Fulton and on nearby streets. They also contend more retail buildings in the area would lead to increased trash, as well as noise and light pollution.

After Jackson Township trustees approved the zoning change, residents collected enough names for a referendum vote to challenge the rezoning. Once the names were certified, Jackson trustees were required to place it on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The golf course, meanwhile, challenged placing the referendum on a technicality because it didn't use the Tam O'Shanter name to identify the golf course, and instead used the Jackson Township's resolution number for the zoning change.

"If something ends up on the ballot, people should know what it is," Bennell said on Tuesday.

"It's our belief that the petitioners did not follow state law," he added, noting that "everyone calls it the Tam O'Shanter zoning case."

Lawyers for the golf course made that argument last week, but the four-member Board of Elections rejected it. Board of elections members said they were confident that people who signed the petition understood what they were signing.

Bennell said the golf course is working to ensure the law is followed. If the Supreme Court keeps the referendum on the ballot, Tam O'Shanter is ready for the election and confident it will win.

A committee called Jackson Decides if fighting the zoning change. "We feel he's (Bennell) afraid to let it go to the voters," said Jenifer Canoles, leader of Jackson Decides.

Reach Edd at 330-580-8484 or edd.pritchard@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @epritchardREP