FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Powell Crossing lawsuit settlement
(POWELL, Ohio)—Sept. 19, 2017—The City of Powell resolved the lawsuit arising from an unconstitutional Charter Amendment with a payment of $1.8 million. This payment will be made through a combination of funds contributed by the City ($950,000) and the City’s insurer, Great American Insurance Group ($850,000).
This settlement resolves any and all claims and compensates the Powell Crossing developers for legal damages and lost income from the delays in construction of the Powell Crossing development.
“The City is thankful for the guidance provided by the District Court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in coming to this ultimate resolution,” said City Manager Steve Lutz.
The Federal Court ruled in March 2016 that a Charter Amendment initiated by a citizen petition and approved in late 2014 by Powell voters was unconstitutional. The Court stated the Powell Charter Amendment was an unlawful delegation of legislative power and invalidated the Charter Amendment in its entirety. It also determined that Powell Crossing, LLC. was entitled to permanent injunctive relief, damages and attorney fees.
The City was represented by Fishel Hass Kim Albrecht Downey LLP., a law firm assigned by the City’s risk management insurance company.
Developers with Powell Crossing proposed a mixed use development that would include 14,000 square feet of retail, office space and 64 apartment units in the City’s downtown business district. The development plan was approved by Powell City Council in June, 2014. A group of residents challenged the City’s approval of Powell Crossing’s development plan through a Charter Amendment initiative.
On November 4, 2014, the Charter Amendment was approved by 56 percent of the Powell voters. On November 11, 2014, Powell Crossing filed its verified complaint for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, declaratory judgement and damages against the City, sparking the litigation.
Charter Amendment Timeline
July 17, 2014
Petitioners filed an amendment to the City’s Charter.
August 19, 2014
Powell City Council unanimously turned down the proposed Charter Amendment petition because of the Constitutional legal issues.
September 22, 2014
The Ohio Supreme Court found that the proposed Charter Amendment constituted unlawful delegation of legislative authority and that Powell City Council did not have a clear legal duty to put the measure on the Nov. 4 ballot.
September 29, 2014
The Ohio Supreme Court felt that after further reflection, it was premature to assess the constitutionality of the proposed Charter Amendment ordinance and that Powell City Council should first submit the amendment to the electorate.
October 2, 2014
City officials filed a motion for clarification and/or reconsideration with the Ohio Supreme Court because the Nov. 4 ballot is not within the “not less than 60 nor more than 120 days” after passage of the ordinance timeline set forth in Article XVIII, Section 8 of the Ohio Constitution and the City Clerk has the duty to mail a copy of the proposed Charter Amendment to each elector (or give notice by appropriate newspaper advertising) “not less than 30 days prior to such election, making the requirements of the Ohio Supreme Court’s order and the provisions of the Ohio Constitution inconsistent.
October 6, 2014
The Ohio Supreme Court denied the motion.
October 7, 2014
Powell City Council unanimously approved the ordinance to submit the proposed Charter Amendment to the Delaware County Board of Elections for the Nov. 4 ballot, following the Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling.
October 14, 2014
A protest was filed at the Delaware County Board of Elections by an affected landowner pursuant to Ohio elections law. The Delaware County Board of Elections found the following concerns with the proposed charter amendment: the petition is administrative in nature and is therefore not subject to a charter amendment initiative; the form of the petition does not comply with City or State requirements; the title and text of the petition are misleading; and the petition was not filed with the Board of Elections in a timely manner (not less than 60 days prior to the election). However, the Board of Elections stated they would comply with the mandate from the Ohio Supreme Court and place the initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot.
November 4, 2014
Election Day, Charter Amendment approved by 56 percent.
November 11, 2014
Powell Crossing filed a complaint in Federal Court for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, declaratory judgement and damages against the City.
March 25, 2016
Federal judge rules in favor of Powell Crossing, finding that the Charter Amendment was unconstitutional as an unlawful delegation of authority. The Federal Court invalidates the Charter Amendment in its entirety. The matter is subsequently set for a hearing on damages.
April 12, 2016
Two citizens move to intervene for purposes of appealing the Federal Court opinion.
June 20, 2016
Federal judge denies citizens’ motion to intervene based on lack of standing.
July 19, 2016
Citizens attempt to appeal denial of motion to intervene to the Federal Court of Appeal. Citizens also file a purported appeal of the ruling that the Charter Amendment was unconstitutional.
June 16, 2017
Federal Appeals Court affirms trial court’s opinion that the citizens did not have standing to intervene and appeal.
Contact: Megan Canavan
Director of Communications
(614) 885-5380 ext. 1022 (office)