GREEN  When the Green Board of Zoning Appeals voted to overturn a planning commission decision allowing a commercial development on Massillon Road last September, the developer took little time in taking the city to court. When Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Paul Gallagher hears TWL Development’s appeal of the BZA decision, residents neighboring the planned development will also have the opportunity to weigh in on the issue.

A motion to intervene was granted by the court Dec. 28 to three families representing residents adjoining the TWL development site.

"Normally, TWL would act as plaintiff and the city of Green as defendant in this matter," residents’ spokesperson and April Drive resident Mike Cline said in a Dec. 29 email. "However, because we do not feel that the city will mount a strong defense of the BZA decision, some of us have decided to continue on with the legal battle. The city refuses to even acknowledge that any procedural errors were made during the approval process, although our attorney showed that there were errors."  

The TWL development calls for a 22,000 square foot grocery store, as well as a restaurant with outdoor seating, which was granted conditional approval by planning commission June 21, 2017.

Residents on April Drive and other nearby streets argued at the planning commission meeting that the development will eliminate a natural buffer between the neighborhood and commercial activity on Massillon Road, noting that residents have successfully opposed commercial development on this parcel for decades. 

The five-member Green board of zoning appeals unanimously overturned the planning commission decision three months later.

Residents will have their say

In his email, Cline said the motion to intervene filed by the Cline, Weaver, and Ross families "is basically a request that we, the affected property owners, be allowed to submit our own argument as to why the BZA decision was a sound one."

City Law Director Diane Calta said she was not surprised by the residents’ decision to file the motion, adding that such motions to intervene are not entirely unusual in cases such as these.

"The city did not oppose (the residents’ motion); I think they wanted a seat at the table and wanted to be a part of the court proceedings," Calta said. "This is an appeal, so it will be handled in briefs."

Calta added that the city is not aware of any pretrial or hearing dates scheduled at this time.

"According to Summit County local rules of practice and procedure, TWL is required to file a brief 30 days after the record is filed (and) the Record was filed on Dec. 22, 2017," she said. "The city’s brief is due 30 days after the filing of TWL’s brief."